It’s been abandoned by the Obama Administration but the Bush Administration used it like Pavlov might have, pressing the button to make the orange light go on whenever they wanted the public to drool in fear.
When Bush made big mistakes, when reports came out criticizing his Administration, when sentiment would turn against the Iraq War, when Bush’s poll ratings declined and his re-election approached, they’d just hit that ol’ orange light and many people would flip from critical thinking and whatever they were focused on to fearful support of Bush as our President.
Since the Republicans have returned to power, the dynamics of fear and hatred naturally appear as the center plank of their platform but the form has changed slightly. Without any seeming hesitsation, they act openly as “terrorists”. This is not hyperbole or merely an insult, witness the following definitions of terrorism:
From Merriam Webster:
“The systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion”
1. The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. The state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. A terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
1. The calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.
2. The use of extreme fear in order to coerce people (especially for political reasons); “he used terror to make them confess”.
3. A radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities.
There have been threats of actual physical violence by Tea Partiers and GOP politicians but I would call more attention to the bulk of the definitions that refer to using fear to coerce people. From the threat to shut down government over the budget to the threat to do that AND destroy our economy, the Republican Congress has embarked on a campaign of terror against the American people to squeeze from them the political changes to our democracy and society they otherwise would be prevented from achieving because of opposition by most of America.
Most would recall Jim DeMint’s and Mitch McConnell’s words since Obama was elected president, their laser focus on denying Obama any accomplishments, preventing his attempts to reverse the recession and in any way succeed as President so he could be eliminated after one term. They began as a minority and implemented a policy of just saying “no”, even to their own policies and plans, even to something as inexcusable as providing health compensation after 9 years to the 9/11 first responders. Their ruthlessness in pursuing only their own power over the welfare of Americans has never faltered.
Now with a majority in The House, their opportunity to move from a defensive posture to an offensive one (very offensive indeed) would not escape them. Their campaign in 2010 set the stage for what was ahead. For two years they instilled fear and hatred of the black, Kenyan, socialist, Muslim President. He didn’t just have political views and opinions that they fiercely opposed, he was evil and intended to destroy the country and Americans (especially white ones). He wasn’t just the opposition, he was the Devil.
As was EVERY proposal and EVERY nominee he proposed. Health care reform was about killing Grannies and making America a socialist country like China. Getting rid of DADT was his ploy to destroy our military. Sonia Sotomayor was a racist (as all minorities seem to be to those Repubs in power who are white). Even Michele Obama trying to encourage Americans to have healthy kids (with 1/3 of US kids obese now) is a case of the Obamas trying to have government steal freedom from its citizens.
As usual, helping with the rationalizing of all of this is the corporate media which allows any accusation to be presented as simply a different, valid POV, no matter how plainly dishonest the propaganda is. Yes, the President had to actually respond to the media’s propagation of corporate/GOP propaganda that the ACA did not contain “death panels”, he actually had to deny that America would not murder its elderly citizens as part of its plan to improve health coverage for all. Seriously, that had to be denied and yet many elderly STILL believed it was true and some still do today.
The cynical, terrorist game plan of the GOP includes the same “stop Obama” agenda. As long as the GOP can manufacture one major crisis after another, it blots out attention and energy from accomplishing anything else that Obama and the Dems may wish to focus on. The potency of this fight also energizes their base, resolving it would be detrimental so not only is having a crisis “good” for the GOP but many are anxiously awaiting default on the debt ceiling to destroy “Obama’s economy” and use that crisis to gain even greater power.
It’s hard to find the time and energy to remodel your house when someone keeps setting fire to it. That is essentially the other part of this game, paired with extorting changes to this country that the majority opposes.
People often remark, “Why is it that whether Dems are in the majority or minority, they can’t muscle their agenda forward like Republicans?” The answer may now be a bit more self-apparent, the Republicans’ method of extracting what they want from the public and Democrats comes from a willingness to put a gun at America’s head and pull the trigger.
Only Republicans have shut down our government to get what they want. Only Republicans have refused to raise the debt ceiling, threatening a worldwide economic catastrophe, in order to blackmail America into giving them what they want.
Republicans in Congress are operating as terrorists. Democrats in Congress are operating as diplomats. This has even caused some Dems to complain, they want to fight fire with fire. All that would do though is burn The House down.
Why is the plain truth of Republican terrorism obscured in the media? Why is that as reasonable a “side” as their “kill Granny” accusation against the ACA? The answer seems two-fold, conflict creates increased viewership and any lull in conflict or crises is bad for viewership and corporate earnings. The other element is that the Repubs’ demands come from and are intended to benefit these very same corporations.
How do you deal with a terrorist? It’s great rhetoric to say, “Don’t make deal with terrorists,” but when all of your relatives and friends, your entire community is being held hostage, rhetoric isn’t very consoling. If you refuse their demands, they could destroy everyone but if you give them what they want, there’s no guarantee they won’t snuff the hostages anyway or take them hostage again because they’ve seen that it works.
What should the Dems and Obama do?
Since this game has become dangerous and corrupt, I think it’s time to kick the game board over and let the pieces fall where they may. President Obama may or may not be on solid legal ground in declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional or claiming authority to pay bills anyway but he should be prepared to do so at the end of this week if no reasonable deal can be reached.
The result could be a Constitutional crisis, some saying Congress would not have grounds to take Obama to court because they could not show harm to them, others saying they could. If it did go to the SCOTUS, an unfriendly majority may overrule his authority but…the debt ceiling will have been raised, the economy will have a repreive from destruction and the hottest crisis will be about Congress (Republicans in Congress that is) failing to uphold their responsibility to protect America vs. a President who was willing to take the heat for doing what they refused to do. This crisis is the discussion we should be having and it is one that Obama is likely to win.
The public wants this resolved, they don’t want another economic crash and I would guess that they don’t care as much about Congress whining that their authority to destroy our economy was usurped. If the Repubs fought against this and if they won in the SCOTUS to bar Obama from further protecting our nation and its economy, would they not lose support from all except for the Tea Party extremists? Fighting for the right to threaten and destroy our economy?
It may be unfair but President Obama may have to put himself on the line like this to defeat the GOP terrorists that threaten us all. In the end though, I think that the GOP will incur the lion’s share of damage and scorn and end up losing a great deal of power in 2012, as they should.
In this case, the best long term solution may be to fight one crisis with another crisis, the latter being a crisis only for the GOP terrorists in the House.