Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Usurpers

The cry "We're going to take back our country" is one I heard frequently from tea partiers. The sense is that some (usually specified) elected officials are illegitimate usurpers of that office. The implied meaning in  'take back the country' is usually electoral, but violence, or a second amendment solution, lurks in the background

The idea that elected officials are not illegitimate holders of their elected office can come from concerns about the fairness of the election or about the officials themselves. It's often mixed up in the believers' heads. Obama was elected by fraud, he's also not a natural-born American, and no one with his political philosophy should ever be elected.

So Obama is treated like a usurper. But Clinton was also treated like a usurper, and there's no doubt that he was a natural-born American. I think the concerns about fraud and Obama's citizenship are just smokescreens for the real reason people don't want him as president--that they don't want someone with his politics in the White House. Therefore, any Democratic president is going to get this treatment--the constant complaints, the attacks on his legitimacy, the insults like "traitor," and the calls to impeach.

Clinton got it too, and it was surprising in its virulence at the time. Hillary called it a "vast rightwing conspiracy," but it actually became normal operating procedure for Clinton's GOP opponents, and the machinery hasn't ever stopped. Now Obama is the target, along with his senior staff, particularly Eric Holder for some reason.

Bear in mind that here can easily be an unending series of complaints about any official since none of us is perfect or all-powerful or able to accomplish everything within our purview. I think the Obama administration has been relatively clean, which is why Operation Fast and Furious is still such an item of anger. It's the biggest club with which to beat the Obama administration, and it isn't that big (in my subjective opinion), especially since it began under President Bush in 2006.

I wonder about this sense that any Democratic president is a usurper. It can feel that the president doesn't have much support if you live in a deep-red state or receive your political information in a partisan echo chamber. Many people, on the right, left, and middle, thin that they are actually in the majority if only:
  • The media wasn't so biased.
  • The media would get the truth out there.
  • Voting fraud was eliminated.
  • Stupid voters weren't allowed to vote.
  • Freeloaders weren't allowed to vote.
  • Immigration laws were enforced.
The belief that your ideas are superior and would win a electorate majority if only [something] is common enough. I just don't know why it persists in the face of election results. Why is there the sense that you are part of the "silent majority" (Nixon) or the real Americans (Palin), and those others are not?

The echo chamber of media and the politics of the people around you with can certainly reinforce that idea, and Fox News and other right-wing outlets do plenty of conscious reinforcement. But I think there's more. There's a kind of resentment at work. It's resentment of elites, particularly in non-conservative media and in academia, who have used their power to stifle. Many people feel stifled, belittled, and embattled. It's no wonder they want to take their country back. That's how anyone feels when they're shouted down, or just perceive that kind of treatment. So they turn their resentment on these elites and their allies, the Democrats.

I don't have a quick solution to this. But I want to remind people that civil discourse and true listening are lacking, and we see the outcome of this situation and probably thousands of others.

  Not a bull's eye for the topic, but a great graphic for 
"take our country back" from

Type "most Americans want" into Google to see what phrases come up in auto-complete.

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