The Government Shutdown Demonstrates GOP Hostility Towards Democracy
Voting booths (Shutterstock)

Ordinary Americans, defying the GOP's wishes by voting.

Rachel Maddow's segment on why the Republicans are shutting down government is a must-watch tour de force:

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As she explains in the video, House Republicans have not shown a bit of interest in the past three years of doing things like governing, passing laws, or anything silly like that. What they have done is mount a series of showdowns where they threaten government shutdown, resulting in the inevitable actual shutdown. That it happened after the elections is not a coincidence, and not just because Republicans didn't want to take the electoral hits of forcing a shutdown in 2012. No, this is because they were "graciously" giving Americans a chance to take back our "mistake" in electing Barack Obama President, when they believe that office permanently belongs to a Republican.

I made a crack about this on Twitter this morning:

black president

Unsurprisingly, this caused wingnuts to send half-literate rantings at me for hours---they're probably still doing it---which suggests it hit a lot closer to home than I really even intended it to. Truth told, I think they would be throwing this temper tantrum regardless of the race of the Democratic President, because they don't think a Democrat should be President. They did this to President Clinton and it was basically driven by the same underlying belief that's endemic on the right that Democrats are always illegitimate when they take office because the people who vote them in don't count as real Americans---and therefore our right to vote itself is suspect. That's the sentiment behind the voter ID laws that are cropping up in the wake of Obama's reelection. That's why Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners that all Obama voters are on welfare, even though that's statistically impossible. They have convinced themselves that they are Real America and that simply by being liberal---or even being persuaded to vote for a Democrat---you aren't and really don't deserve even basic suffrage. (Obviously, people on welfare deserve the right to vote, but I am fairly certain the majority of Limbaugh's listeners don't agree.)

That said, race is indisputably making the conservative temper tantrum over the fact that they don't actually have permanent control over the White House all the uglier. They hated Bill Clinton, absolutely. They impeached him! (They want to do that to Obama, too, but the Benghazi thing just doesn't have legs.) But the overwhelming anger and desire to punish the voters for putting Obama into office is much worse than I remember it in the 90s. The voter ID stuff is part of it. The increased attacks on abortion---and now contraception!---are part of it, since women voted for Obama more than men. The obsession with shutting down the government is absolutely part of it.

In other words, as far as the Republican base is concerned, they would rather burn this country to the ground rather than share it with you people.

This is how Republicans imagine the majority of American voters who voted for Obama and our relationship to the President, courtesy of Michele Bachmann.

“President Obama can’t wait to get Americans addicted to the crack cocaine of dependency on more government health care,” she said in an interview with the far-right WorldNetDaily site where she regularly gives explosive interviews.

Not only is the use of "crack cocaine" a racially loaded term---since crack is associated with black people, whereas powder cocaine tends to be more associated with white people---the overall message here is one of searing contempt for the majority of voters, and a belief that they do not deserve to be considered full citizens. This risible description is meant to send home the message that people who voted for Obama are irresponsible people who can't be trusted.

What makes this all the worse is that Obama's election and the passage of the Affordable Care Act should be held up as good examples of democracy working. America had a problem, and we came together and elected leaders who are ready and willing to take care of that problem. Now the problem is going to get better. Sure, the law doesn't do enough and could do a lot more, but no one said democracy was perfect. But this is an example of how a democracy working how it's supposed to, fumbling bit by bit in the right direction and helping improve things for citizens. And boy howdy, do Republicans clearly hate that.