Bob Herbert has a powerful column today about the lack of civility in public discourse, especially as practiced and encouraged by Republican activists. He opens with this disturbing encounter:
A group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: "If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town."
Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, "I'll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot."
Don't believe it? Here's some video, in case you missed it.
To them, life is nasty, brutish and short, and they want to make sure it stays that way.
Here's also video interview of the man they were taunting.
Yes, people are mad and frustrated. I've been frustrated with Washington pretty much all of my adult life. But this kind of nastiness — along with other things like shouting racist epithets at a black congressman, spitting on people, screaming "faggot" at Barney Frank, all the way back to John McCain's concession speech in 2008, where we heard shouts of "kill him" referring to Obama — is just awful. Maybe people like these goons have always been around, and we just haven't had to see or hear them before this age of citizen-generated media (blogs, YouTube, Twitter, etc.). I don't know.
But as someone who considers herself a moderate independent politically — which apparently makes me a communist or fascist, I can't tell which, according to the wingnuts — I can't find myself sympathizing at all with people like this.
The Republicans have a problem. Several problems, actually.
- They're responsible for most of the national debt.
- Republicans in Congress, whatever positions they may run on, vote as a block against:
- Protecting people from air pollution.
- Protecting people from water pollution.
- Protecting people from having their health insurance cancelled when they get sick.
- Allowing women to make decisions about their own bodies.
- Allowing people who happen to be gay to have equal rights.
- Religious freedom. (Only certain Christians are deemed acceptable.)
- They're beholden to the evangelical right-wing.
- They vote party first, country second.
And it's the last point that has me disgusted. Yes, Democrats can do this, too, but the GOP has the corner on me-right-you-wrong politics. Anything that's Republican is good, anything that's Democrat is bad, and that's that according to them. (And that's why you see things like cap-and-trade, a Republican policy under Ronald Reagan, is now evil as soon as Barack Obama endorses it.)
No, I am not a Democrat. But there's no way in hell I will trust a Republican Senator or Congressman to do the right thing, no matter what he or she says.