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The New GOP: Civility Optional

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Shaw       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 9/14/09

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Today's GOP is no longer the party of Lincoln, the party of Eisenhower, or even the party of Reagan. Today's so-called conservatives are anything but conservative in their seemingly desperate displays of anti-Obama sentiment.

Indeed, their behavior in 2009 makes their 2004 anti-Kerry chants of "flip-flop" seem almost charming by comparison.

It was bad enough when some of the needlessly frightened sheep started bringing loaded guns to health care town hall meetings -- even including a meeting where President Obama was the featured speaker. (Remember how George W. Bush's handlers would systematically banish -- and sometimes actually arrest -- citizens who merely sported tee-shirt slogans that they disagreed with?)

And the rabidity of the vocal right-wing masses was illustrated again recently when author, columnist, and frequent cable news commentator David Sirota shared the following development: "Just received a full-on death threat for my CNN appearance discussing the racial undertones of the tea party protests."

This is what politics has become.

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But every party has its fringe elements. Can't blame the whole party, right? At least not usually.

These days, however, it seems that the boldness and the rudeness have become much more pervasive throughout the GOP.

It's no longer just the radical fringe.

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It's no longer even just the extreme right-wing mouthpieces like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and Beck, although their encouragement surely helps to embolden others.

No, it seems that the belligerence has worked its way into the very halls of Congress. During one of our nation's most solemn kinds of official events -- a presidential address to Congress and the American people on September 9 -- Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted "You lie!" after Obama said that his health care plan would not cover illegal aliens. (For the record, it was Wilson who lied. H.R. 3200, the House health care proposal, actually contains a section titled "No Federal Payment For Undocumented Aliens" which explicitly states that "there will be no federal funds spent to cover illegal immigrants.") But why let the facts interfere with their agenda to establish fear and distrust of Obama as a cornerstone of our national zeitgeist?

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that it has come to this. After all, this is the same GOP whose then-vice-president Dick Cheney once dropped the f-bomb on the Senate floor.

If that's the kind of behavior that they feel they must resort to, it's their prerogative. I just wish they'd stop telling us that they stand for "family values".


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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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