Ever since the 2008 election ended and a new era in American politics began, right-wing extremists have gradually been coming out of the woodwork. Here’s more…
Disclaimer: I am a Democrat. I am a liberal, open-minded, Atheist, big city-living Democrat. I’m not ashamed of who I am, or my beliefs. I consider myself to be very liberal, but not overly so. I’m not the type of liberal who wants everyone to be a vegetarian who drives a tiny car fueled by corn syrup and love, nor am I the type of liberal who views capitalism as inherently evil and wants to rise up to ‘stick it to the man’. I believe in sensibility, fairness, and solutions. I believe people of all religions, minorities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and socioeconomic strata are equal.
At the same time, I have deep respect for the opinions of those who might not agree with me. Just because I have a certain idea about how government should work or what should be legal or not, does not mean I don’t think others should instantly agree with me. It is our ability to disagree and debate that makes us stronger, because we don’t stifle opinions and ideas that might be of great value.
Still, there are some who are so absorbed in their own ideology that they continue to split people into categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’. The ones I worry about in particular are the far-right nutcases like Glenn Beck and Representative Michelle Bachman (who, although it shames me to say so, is from my home state of Minnesota).
Let’s start with Ms. Bachman. We Minnesotans have known for a long time that this woman is so extreme in her views, that the only reason she gets votes is thanks to her ties with the rich, prominent Evangelical Christians who live in the ‘burbs north of Minneapolis (i.e. Anoka County). The only other reason I can figure that she gets elected is pretty much how any Republican gets elected in this state―the liberal vote is split between the Democrat and the Independent. So, rather than rallying behind one non-crazy candidate, they split their votes between two of them which leaves the crazy one with the highest percentage.
Now, I normally would ignore her insanely offensive comments and actions in regards to homosexuality, which she has called a ‘sexual dysfunction’, or that she wants to see intelligent design taught in schools. Those opinions are generally harmless. What is alarming, however, are her comments on national television last fall that then-candidate Obama was ‘anti-American’ and that our congressmen and women should be investigated for ‘anti-American views’.
More recently, she has suggested that the Obama Administration’s expansion of the Americorps program will lead to ‘mandatory service’ in government projects for young people and that these young people would be sent to ‘re-education camps’. She says her constituents should be ‘armed and ready’ in order to protect against Obama’s radical Socialist agenda.
The problem here is that people actually think she’s right. As someone with family members living in her district who I know agree with this woman, I know for a fact that her words are not just falling on deaf ears.
Then we have Glenn Beck. While the vast majority of Americans think the man is a lunatic, there are people who actually watch his program for something other than laughs. When he fake-cries and says, “I just love my country so much,” there are people who think he is sincere. He feeds off the fears of the Republicans and Libertarians who are reeling over Obama’s win and cursing his administration for its new policies. The man is merely stoking the flames of rage that lie within the conspiracy theorists, the ultra pro-gun advocates who honestly think their guns are going to be forcibly removed from their homes, and those who see Obama and his “leftist agenda” as the end of America as we know it.
Why are these people so scary, you say? Well, aside from the obvious fact that they are stoking the flames of anger under the small percentage of extremists who think Obama’s election is either A) the end of American prosperity as we know it, or B) a sign of Christ’s second coming, there are other reasons to fear the likes of Bachman and Beck.
These people are giving the GOP a bad name, making the Republican party’s image even worse than it was under former President Bush. I’ll be honest: there are some reasonable Republicans out there. I don’t agree with everything they say, but some are reasonable and are essential for maintaining a good balance in our government. What happens if these people become the face of the Republican party? Their power will shrink even further so that the voices of those who don’t agree with the Democrats will be drowned out.
Again, I’ve never voted for a Republican personally, but I know that having differing opinions is essential to a healthy democracy. They have their right to say whatever they will, but it doesn’t mean we have to agree with them, or even like them. Just like the Westboro Baptist Church, also known as the nuts who protest at the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have the right to spew hatred and anger.
Perhaps, the best way to discredit these people is to take the Stephen Colbert approach. Find humor in their nutty ramblings to expose these people for what they really are: insane.