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The “Cornerstone of Socialist Utopia”

Or, why do conservatives hate democracy?

I’ve been commenting on the over-the-top rhetoric and reaction by the right-wing to the passage of the health care bill.  However, this piece in the NYT by Paul Krugman does the subject much better justice.  Some highlights:

Going to Extreme

I admit it: I had fun watching right-wingers go wild as health reform finally became law. But a few days later, it doesn’t seem quite as entertaining — and not just because of the wave of vandalism and threats aimed at Democratic lawmakers. For if you care about America’s future, you can’t be happy as extremists take full control of one of our two great political parties.

Yes, the fringe of the right has now become the mainstream of their party.  Perhaps their new slogan should be “All Aboard the Crazy Train!”

To be sure, it was enjoyable watching Representative Devin Nunes, a Republican of California, warn that by passing health reform, Democrats “will finally lay the cornerstone of their socialist utopia on the backs of the American people.”

Interesting in that the same sort of hyperbole was used by the GOP at the passage of Medicare and Social Security legislation.  I still have not been issued my little red Mao book.  Still waiting….

A side observation: one Republican talking point has been that Democrats had no right to pass a bill facing overwhelming public disapproval. As it happens, the Constitution says nothing about opinion polls trumping the right and duty of elected officials to make decisions based on what they perceive as the merits.

But democracy is only worth using as a talking point when it benefits Republican issues.  How dare the Democrats use the exact same legislative tactics that the Republicans have so many times before!

But back to the main theme. What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party’s leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was “Armageddon.” The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee’s chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on “the firing line.” And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.

All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush — but you’ll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.

Even though the right-wing is doing a full court press pushing the line that “both sides” are guilty of this incendiary rhetoric and propaganda, I have yet to see or hear it. 

For today’s G.O.P. is, fully and finally, the party of Ronald Reagan — not Reagan the pragmatic politician, who could and did strike deals with Democrats, but Reagan the antigovernment fanatic, who warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. It’s a party that sees modest efforts to improve Americans’ economic and health security not merely as unwise, but as monstrous. It’s a party in which paranoid fantasies about the other side — Obama is a socialist, Democrats have totalitarian ambitions — are mainstream. And, as a result, it’s a party that fundamentally doesn’t accept anyone else’s right to govern.

The GOP hates the democratic process.  They talk as if the “government” were an evil thing that will devour all that is sacred, is too obtrusive  and will turn us all into communist zombies.  But for some reason they strive like hell to get elected and work in the government.

No, this visceral response to the whole process of trying to pass health care reform legislation has nothing to do with the specifics and facts of the legislation.  It is all the right’s response to a) losing and b) losing to a black man.  Frank Rich has an excellent op-ed on this subject also at the NYT and can be found here.

And one more thing.  Mr. Boehner, not only could we, we did.


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