>As Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wakes from the nightmare she suffered yesterday morning, she and the rest of the country are coming to grips with how a lone gunman’s actions have shaken the core of our democracy. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, and his allege shooting of Rep. Giffords and killing of six others, including a nine-year-old child, has not only strung together Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, in their denunciation of his acts, but has also jump-started a national conversation on anti-government sentiment.
Many reports have identified Loughner as a disillusioned young man whose behavior had recently become so unpredictable that others around him began to worry as this New York Times article details. The article noted Loughner on his Myspace page had a photographer of a U.S. history textbook with a handgun placed on top, prepared a series of videos filled with rambling statements and began acting odd during classes at Pima Community College.
The article even pointed to a student who took a poetry class with him last semester. Don Coorough called Loughner a “troubled young man” and “emotionally underdeveloped,” according to the article. The article also quotes Coorough as saying Loughner referred to a student who wrote about having an abortion as a “terrorist” for choosing to terminate her pregnancy.
Republicans and Democrats elected to high office are well aware of the targets on their backs once they enter public service. They are mindful of the small number of deranged men and women who would have no problem resorting to death threats and violence to make their voices heard.
However, Loughner’s rants against the government and increasing erratic behavior parallels the rise of anti-government sentiment among a growing number of mainstream Americans. This surge in down-with-the-government behavior isn’t an isolated cause: it correlates with the election of The Other as president and the WASPs’ feeling of losing control over the political and economic system set up in their favor.
The Tea Party movement, its grassroots supporters and endorsed politicians have fueled the fire of the growing distrust and resentment. These people believe our government has been hijacked by socialists who seek to give free health care to Welfare Queens who pop out six babies with six different thugs and dismantle our free market economic system with that of a shared wealth system.
It’s hardly a coincidence Sarah Palin encouraged a lock-and-load mentality when it came to rallying the base to return Congressional power back to Boehner, McConnell and Co. It’s hard to forget SarahPAC’s infamous use of gun targets to pinpoint which Congressional Democrats were on the chopping block to defeat in the midterm elections.
Palin didn’t stop there. She encouraged common sense conservatives “Don’t retreat, Instead-RELOAD” and read a note on her Facebook page used to rally the troops to “Take back the 20” who voted for the health care law.
It should be noted Rep. Giffords was on Palin’s hit list to be taken out on Nov. 2. In Saturday’s short and sweet condolences to Rep. Giffords and the other victims, Palin failed to mention how her reckless and inflammatory campaign to defeat Democrats have all but backfired. She failed to acknowledge how the political rhetoric she helped shape in the past three years have contributed to the attempt on Rep. Gifford’s life and the senseless death of six innocent people.
It’s hardly a coincidence Sharron Angle concluded the country needed “Second Amendment remedies” to solve the Harry Reid problem in Nevada.
You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.
I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.
Even Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann encouraged her fellow constituents to get “armed and dangerous” in opposing the administration’s cap and trade policy.
When suicide bomber and terrorist Joe Stack last year flew a plane into the IRS building in Texas, politicians extended their condolences to the victims, but in the same breath sympathized with his disillusionment with the oft maligned IRS. The mere fact Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) would condone the attack as an assault on an unnecessary government entity demonstrates just how deep pro-violent political rhetoric had seeped into the skin of American politics.
This Palinization of political discourse signals the arrival of radicalism in mainstream America: it’s now cool to hate the government. It’s now hip to indirectly threaten the lives of politicians and call for armed violence against government tyranny. The Tea Party movement has made it safe for ordinary (read: white men and women) to dress up in full military gear and bring guns and ammunition to political events. The Tea Party movement has made it cool for soccer moms, NASCAR dads and middle- and upper-middle class yuppies to protest what they see as the steady decline of American power and prestige at the hands of The Other and his socialist cronies. Being a patriotic American is synonymous with advocating for the overthrow of the government.
No, I’m not pointing fingers at any politician and blaming him or her for Loughner’s actions. However, we must reassess the impact of vehement political rhetoric on the likes of the Jared Lee Loughners and Joe Stacks and understand how politicians’ indirect endorsement of violence influences discourse and debate.
The massacre in Arizona shines a light on the squalid state of American politics. In the name of winning political popularity contest, or what we call elections, our politicians have resorted to a call for arms and violence in the name of protecting our interests. The shooting of Rep. Giffords and killing of six other people has to serve as a catalyst to call for an end of the use of violence in the name of political debate and discourse.