Democrats are pushing back and the violent rhetoric is being archived. But the threats and incitement escalate, not diminish up to and beyond the elections in November.
[Via TPM] House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters he believed over 10 lawmakers have been threatened since they voted for the health care bill on Sunday.
Appearing before reporters alongside House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Hoyer expressed concern about the recent spat of incidents targeting lawmakers, and blamed the violent rhetoric surrounding the health care debate for creating a potentially dangerous atmosphere.
And there will be more acts of domestic rightwing terrorism.
Immigration reform will cause the rightwingers and Republicans to descend once again into deep ritual outrage before the elections.
Because of the cumulative effect of seeing Obama enact more and more of the agenda he campaigned and won on, but also due to deep seated racial, ethnic and cultural anxieties, the coming debate over immigration reform might be even uglier and more extreme than the hcr debate.
The prevailing opinion is that the only question regarding the 2010 midterms is over the level of Democratic defeat and whether or not they’ll even lose their House majority. But we are really in unprecedented territory in our national political debate.
I and others have written before about the trouble the Republicans have set themselves up for by unleashing and pandering to — and even becoming — the most extreme fringe of their coalition.
They have two bad choices:
- continue pandering to the extremists, even as threats of violence and perhaps even murder turn into actual deeds and even as the extremists engage in vile and retrograde racist discourse in the immigration reform debate
- emulate WF Buckley and kick the kooks to the curb
If they pick option 1, they will alienate more and more potential supporters and greatly increase the likelihood that they will become little more than a southern and mountain west based party made up of angry and largely willfully ignorant old white people.
If they pick option 2, they will further infuriate their perpetually outraged base of extremists who will either stay home and close their wallets or even, although this seems highly unlikely, support a third party.
I think the most likely strategy will be to try to deny the dilemma and walk a line between the options I propose. But I think they will not succeed and will only get the worst outcomes from both options.
Most of the Republicans will be circumspect in their in their criticism of the ugly naked racism, the paranoia, and the blatant threats — and actual instances — of violence that will unfold before the election. They will tut-tut and harrumph and denounce the loss of civility that Obama has forced them into by his “totalitarian tactics” of using the democratic process to get elected and then pass (some of) his advertized agenda.
But they will not fully denounce most of these people or their actions and deeds.
This will cause huge numbers of voters who might otherwise consider supporting them to back away from the Republican party.
However, the Republicans will criticize and even cut loose some of the fringiest of the base. They will also fail to meaningfully and credibly maintain their current pose of complete repeal of hcr. Further, they will fail to support the base’s position of solely putting forth complete lack of cooperation regarding immigration reform.
The base will not be amused. They will talk of betrayal of primary campaign promises and will swear vengance on the “rinos” and “squishes” that most of them will come to believe their candidates are once the candidates try to moderate their rhetoric in the general election campaign.
As with McCain in 2008, this agitprop will cause the Republicans to veer erratically between extremist and center right positions, which will make them appear reckless and unready.
I certainly wouldn’t say it’s probable, but the continuing and escalating extreme rhetoric and behavior by rightwingers in the coming months, and Republican failure to make full throated denunciations of them, might make it increasingly possible that the Democrats could even pick up seats in November.