So the question I have to ask is: when did the Republicans transistion from the party of slow careful progress into a bunch of bloodthirsty vengeful animals? I know that's certainly a provocative question. But recent actions by both politicians and even the dedicated Republican voters have me wondering how it came to this...
Did 9/11 really change everything? Prior to that, the Republican party represented financial selfishness and a regressive social agenda. After the attacks, though, it seems that the gloves came off, and pro-war chest thumping and accusatory finger pointing became de rigueur
. America was hurt, and someone
was going to pay, even if it was some unrelated country like Iraq.
Maybe it's that republicans seem to get crazy when there's a democrat in the White House, and this time seems no different. Consider the violent rhetoric of the 2010 campaign, with exortations to "reload"
, or to apply "2nd Amendment remedies"
, or with the circulation of maps with crosshairs
over targeted districts (including Gabby Giffords, who was later shot). These are all from campaigns, not citizen supporters. The citizens - taking a cue from the politicians - come to Democratic functions with guns strapped to their waists quoting Thomas Jefferson
(you know: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.").
None of that, though, prepared me for the audience reaction in two of the recent Republican debates. The first one came when a question was asked of Rick Perry. Part of the question quoted the statistic that over 200 people had been executed under his watch. To that point, the audience cheered and applauded
. These people knew nothing of the individual circumstances of each case. They didn't know if the person was convicted with bad or circumstancial evidence (the Innocence Project
has proven hundreds of wrongfully convicted people innocent and won their release). To cheer the deaths of so many people is cold-blooded enough, but the reality that some of them may have been innocent is horrid.
The next debate provided another similar case. Ron Paul was asked about uninsured people and whether the government was responsible to provide them with healthcare that might save their life. He responded by saying "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks". When pressed further and asked whether society should just let him die, several audience members
yelled "Yeah!" and laughed. One has to wonder what kind of person thinks its a good thing (or a funny thing) to let someone die because they are uninsured. It's a particularly apt question for Ron Paul, since one of his staffers - who raised tens of millions of dollars for Ron Paul - died of pneumonia
because he couldn't afford health insurance. When did the suffering and dying of one's fellow citizens become an applause line?
It comes down to this attitude of vengeance and punishment that seems to go to the very core of their psyche. It seems that in their mind, it's better that a few innocent suffer than a bad person get away with something. I am wondering if these people lay awake in bed at night, tossing and turning, just knowing
that somewhere - someone is getting something they don't deserve, that they didn't work for. That person MUST be PUNISHED
I don't really have a good explanation for this. It's so alien to my mindset. Are Republicans Old Testament and liberals New Testament? It's a mystery - and a scary one.