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Peter out or get crazier?

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 14:49 EDT
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It’s the question on the minds of those of us who’ve been alarmed watching the teabaggers give up all pretense of civility (not that they had much) in the run-up to the health care reform vote in the House. Now that it looks likely that we’ll actually get health care reform, the question is what will the teabaggers do with all that anger? While the fact that the world not end cause them to run out of juice and go home to stew while listening to Rush and Glenn? Or will get they get uglier and more violent? It’s clear that some Republican politicians see the latter as the preferable option, presumably because they think it improves their electoral prospects. Witness Steve King playing footsie with violence and secession: (It’s the first 3 minutes of the video).

Of course, we had our trolls yesterday trying to claim equivalency between anti-democratic sentiments from the right and a few blowhards on the left. But this sort of thing demonstrates the difference—sitting congressmen talking up secession and praising a giant crowd for its violent impulses. Indeed, I would say demands that we see an equivalence are another example of how conservatives simply believe they get to have more and get away with more because of their cultural identification as right wingers. In order for the left to complain about politicians calling for violence and secession, we have to make sure there isn’t a single left-leaning person who has fantasized about violence. In order to be alarmed about crowds of people who brag about being gun nuts and who practically beg for someone to declare an official revolution so they can start shooting up perceived enemies, we have to make sure the left has not a single loner who has violent fantasies. They get more leeway, according to them, because they’re better than us. The evidence for this has so far not been produced. The wingnuts who bug me on Twitter use abortion as a fallback position for their moral and cultural superiority, but I reject the idea that respect for women’s liberation and human sexuality makes a person immoral. I actually think it’s the morally upright position.

What do I think will happen here? Will it peter out, or will they get crazier? Well, I think both things will happen. Most of them can’t sustain this outrage that long. The natural inclination of haters is to sit at home, stewing in their toxic brew of racism and general haterade, and take cowardly potshots at people they don’t like, while pretending to be brave for doing so. They’re also not very creative people. They’ve been able to keep it up, because the insurance industry has been pouring enormous amounts of money into organizing “grassroots” events for the sheep to show up to, but if the insurance industry decides to cut its losses after this and stop pouring money into that black hole—and I’m sure they will, if not immediately, then soon—then the teabaggers will be leaderless and will just go home.

A minority, however, are organized enough to keep it up. They’re bored and paranoid. Many of them are dumb shits who have derived all their self-esteem from racism and sexism and homophobia, and being confronted with the proposition that people really are equal (and that a black man and a white woman could manage to pass a piece of legislation that’s confounded a century’s worth of politicians) makes them feel small, and they’ll do anything to regain their self-esteem. Except that they’re not really bright people, so creating self-esteem through productive projects isn’t really their thing, and instead, they’re going to stew even more in their hate, and find more like-minded people. They’ll join militias and white supremacist groups, and the FBI is going to have their work cut out for them monitoring domestic terrorists.

Meanwhile, the punditry that encourages this crap will not slow down. It’s their jobs! Just like you and me, Glenn Beck has to get up every day and go to work. Except his job is keeping the outrage high by any means necessary, and keeping his audience from being truly educated by making them think they have the inside information.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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