Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's Not the Most Inspiring Theory of Government, No

I've heard of social contract theory and divine right theory and whatnot, but an awful lot of people on today's right seem to have embraced the "either gratify my desires or you're EVIL, EVIL!!?!" theory of government. Digby takes off from Mitt Romney's bizarre denunciation of the healthcare bill as an "abuse of power," a "usurpation," etc. (because no Republicans voted for it, see), but his petulant whining is merely an example of a growing genre that I fear we're going to see a lot of for the next three years:

I can't help but recall hearing a whole lot of patronizing advice from these same people a few years back when anyone breathed that President Bush might not have legitimately taken office since he lost the popular vote, his brother manipulated the system in Florida and he was was installed by a partisan supreme court decision. Back then it was all "get over it," and "I've got political capital and I'm gonna spend it!" Now, these same people are all screaming that it's a usurpation if the Democrats win the majority and then pass legislation that they don't like.

It's fairly clear that Republicans don't understand how democracy works. You campaign, people vote, you win elections, you get a majority, you pass legislation. They seem to think Democracy means that that elections are irrelevant, majorities are meaningless and that all legislation is contingent upon the permission of the Republican Party.

I'm sorry these people are so unhappy. I know how they feel. I used to hate it when the Republicans passed some disgusting initiative that went against everything I believe in. But I don't recall having a mental breakdown at the notion that they could do it even though I didn't want them to. The idea that they were obligated to do my bidding didn't actually cross my mind.

As they used to say repeatedly, "elections have consequences." If the people don't like this bill, they have every right to turn the Democrats out of office and repeal it. But screaming hysterically that it's cheating to pass legislation with a majority just proves that these folks' great reverence for the constitution is based more on their love of wearing funny hats than anything that's written in it.

I suppose that the most charitable explanation is that some of them really don't understand the fundamental concepts of democratic/republican government—though that's a pretty scary thought considering that many of the loudest screamers either have held or currently hold public office, e.g., Romney, Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, etc.

A less charitable explanation is that many of them are nuts— they suffer from some emotional disorder that makes otherwise grown adults throw tantrums when their will is thwarted. (Hey, many of us have anger issues, but we generally try not to act them out in front of cameras.) The contributions of Fox News, talk radio, etc. to this derangement may not be minor, of course. (Their frequent denunciations of greater access to health care as "tyranny" and "the death of freedom" certain suggests some level of dislocation from observable reality.)

The least charitable explanation, I suppose, is that some of them are just shameless: they'll do whatever it takes to further their long-term project of making America more like a Third-World oligarchy (while disguising this behind a loudly proclaimed reverence for "freedom"), and if that means throwing public tantrums, spreading bizarre lies, throwing around racist and homophobic epithets, turning "social justice" into an evil concept, vandalizing lawmakers' offices and threatening their children, etc., they're game.

I'm not sure what precise of ignorance, insanity, and/or mendacity is behind this madness, but I sure wish these people would learn to take disappointment more gracefully. As Eric Boehlert says, "It's the kind of childish and hysterical reaction I didn't think we'd ever witness from a major political movement."


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