By Edward Flattau
Forget about negativity or fear. The Republican Party is being transformed into the party of hate. Instead of engaging in civil discourse on substantive matters when policy disagreements arise, many congressional Republicans and their sympathizers have resorted to ad hominem attacks on President Obama’s character. He is portrayed as evil incarnate, a president seeking to enslave the American people in a de facto dictatorship for his personal political advantage. According to this bizarre thinking, Obama’s sole objective is to amass enough power to turn the nation into a liberal ideological playpen. Those gullible enough to swallow this guff and work themselves into a lather are further incited by an over-the-top- warning that if Obama succeeds, their way of life is in jeopardy.
About the only incendiary allegation that hasn’t yet surfaced is that Obama intends to rewrite the Constitution and declare himself “president for life” while transforming Congress into a rubber stamp Hitlerian Reichstag. If you think this sounds implausible, the Heritage Foundation, a supposedly reputable conservative think tank, is already making noises in that direction. It has accused Obama of undermining the Constitution by circumventing the Separation of Powers clause through the appointment of environment and other administration “czars” that need no Senate confirmation.
Hoping they have stumbled upon a successful vote-gathering formula, many conservative Republicans assign a sinister motivation to everything President Obama does. They are critical of the president even when he is engaged in such a universally well-regarded activity as striving to halt environmental degradation. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who is a leading mouthpiece for the Republican Party these days, calls the Obama plan to curb global warming “organized religion for atheists and a disguised liberal plot to advance a political agenda.”
Perhaps Limbaugh got his inspiration from the Republican National Platform, which makes Obama sound as though he were a cult leader. His policy on climate change is dismissed as “dogmatic adherence to no-growth radicalism.”
The GOP Platform characterizes Obama’s cap and trade proposal to reduce greenhouse gas pollutants as a “job killer” that will tax families and small businesses into economic oblivion. Lost amid all the discredited data and demented criminalization of Obama and his “green” agenda is any reference to the need to save the country, not to mention the planet, from environmental disaster.
Theories on what motivates many Republicans to denigrate Obama’s character range from racism to fear of a national demographic trend that will strip Caucasians, who constitute the core of the GOP, of their ethnic majority status and accompanying inordinate political clout.
One thing is for sure. Republicans unleashing a virtually uninterrupted stream of invective that accuses political opponents of milking the country dry for personal gain is not conducive to a healthy, enduring democracy. It creates a climate in which the more feverish Republicans warn that if Obama is not “stopped”, we shall forfeit our personal freedoms and the future prosperity of our nation. How will impressionable, unstable people gripped by this grim prognosis interpret what “stopped” actually means?
@Copyright 2009, Edward Flattau
Edward Flattau is an environmental columnist residing in Washington, D.C. Telephone (202) 363-1270 Address: Suite 609, 1330 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036