Proud and scared

/ 26 March 2010

I want to be on the record that I am proud of my party today. I am proud that Democrats in the House found the courage to compromise. The Senate health care bill was a bitter pill to swallow for many progressives. It is far from what we hope for, but it is what we could get. The realism of this vote is the real victory for America. We may be slowly learning how to govern again, how to make hard choices and move forward. I am proud to be part of a constructive political party.

But I am also scared today. Over the past couple days John Avalon at the Daily Beast has circulated two posts that chill me to the bone.

One cites a Harris Poll which showed 57% of Republicans think Obama is a Muslim, 45% think he is ineligible to be president, 38% think he behaves like Hitler, and 24% (one quarter of Republicans) think Obama may be the Antichrist. The Antichrist? A “mainstream” party, a gem of our democracy, is becoming a home to delusion and paranoia. This can’t be good.

The other describes some of the militia movement targeting Democrats after the healthcare vote. Avalon notes that the breaking of windows at congressional offices around the country…

…follows the online exhortations of militia leader Mike Vanderboegh of Pinson, Alabama – who wrote on his blog “Sipsy Street Irregulars” this past Friday: “if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.” The parallels, intentional or not, to the Nazis’ heinous 1938 kristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass,” so-named for the 7,000 storefront windows that were smashed, are hard to ignore.

I just returned from Vienna this week. The horrors of kistallnacht are still remembered there. And even though we “won” the war against Hitler, there are still very few Jews left in Austria. Once violence starts, even winning is losing.

As Vanderboegh’s home page warns “All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.”

Really? Is that how far political discourse has descended? I hope there are some in the GOP who rescue their party from this lunatic fringe. Some who will stand up for the value of civil government, rather than civil war. Some who will return to constructive debate rather than obstruction and fanning flames. We need a civil opposition for democracy to work, we cannot become a one-party state.


Update via the Washington Post:

Vanderboegh said he once worked as a warehouse manager but now lives on government disability checks. He said he receives $1,300 a month because of his congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension. He has private health insurance through his wife, who works for a company that sells forklift products.

How’s that for hypocrisy?

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