The selfish revolution

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, July 11, 2011 12:00 EDT
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"If I can't have you, no one can!" seems to be the mantra of Republicans with regards to this country.  I think everything about this debt ceiling debacle can be understood in those terms—if Real Americans® have to share power with the pointy-heads, black people, gays and lesbians, Mexican immigrants and their families, feminists, Muslims, and hippies who run organic food stores, well, they're not going to do it.  Teabaggers are always talking about a revolution; did we honestly think that it wouldn't matter that they believe that it would be better to burn the country to the ground than to share it?  What's nice about this debt ceiling debate—whether they force the U.S. to default on its loans or whether they just get a deal that's so terrible it functionally destroys the economy for at least a generation—is that they get their revolution without having to marshal an army of elderly Glenn Beck fans waving guns and screaming about how Thomas Paine was a creationist.  I want to offer a novel interpretation of teabagger nonsense.  When they insinuate they'd rather be the complete rulers of a shitpile than share power over the greatest nation on the planet, believe them.  That appears to be exactly what they mean.  

It's worth remembering how much of an existential crisis white, Christian conservative America is feeling.  The writing is on the wall; they are losing numbers.  I realize it's beating a dead horse to some people to remind everyone that this country has gotten so far past their way of viewing the world that we elected a black President, but the election of Obama is the primal scene from which everything else follows.  You can sense that the nation is changing in the little ways: More women in leadership positions, gay couples having big weddings and inviting their entire families, there being black professors at Harvard for the cops to harass, decent Mexican food joints opening up in the Midwest. But electing a black President basically proves everything you were worried about, if you're a teabagger, is happening on a large scale.  And right now, the only thing they can see that will turn the boat around is burning the place to the ground.  They sense that their opportunity to tear this country to pieces is limited and that their hold on power might permanently slip out of their hands in response to demographic changes, and so there's a sense of immediacy that just feeds their panic. 

You can see this attitude in more than the debt ceiling fight.  God knows it's what's compelling the "kill Planned Parenthood" frenzy.  It's also feeding a surge in passing legislation that openly defies the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both in letter and in spirit.  The idea is to disempower the groups that threaten them the most and ideally, to keep enough of them from voting or organizing as to artificially depress the effects of these demographic changes.  Poor women on Medicaid marshalling around an extra child or two they don't want aren't really in a position to fight the power, or at least, not as much as they could be if they weren't so burdened.  

But destroying the economy is just pure rage and hate, I suspect.  And, at the end of the day, Republicans don't see it as something that's going to hurt them that badly. The housing bubble bursting was something the rich recovered from and then got a bonus—the gap between them and everyone else grew dramatically.  The sickest part of all this is that they don't even have to personally pay any price for their revolution.  Most revolutionaries have to sleep in tents, suffer illness and injury, face arrest, and see their comrades get killed.  They just get to see the gap between the rich and everyone else grow larger. 

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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