If you believe the media, you might think there’s a grassroots revolution taking place in America. No, not the radical reforms of the Obama Administration. This revolution is a movement to block those reforms. It is instigated by conservative extremists, and – again if you trust media reports – it looks as if it could get ugly.
One of the conservatives exhorting followers to turn back the clock in America is radio commentator Rush Limbaugh (left), who makes no secret of his desire to see the new President fail. Another is Sean Hannity of Fox News (right), who took the blatantly seditious step of including a questionnaire on his web site asking visitors to choose the best way of overthrowing the government. The choices were a military coup; armed rebellion; and a war for secession.
Another Fox News commentator, Glenn Beck, (below, left) predicts that an army of survivalist “bubbas” might take up arms against the “communist” Obama government. Beck is attempting to label President Obama and the Democrats as communists, and has initiated a red scare segment on his show – with Soviet flag graphics, a “Comrade Update” logo and a Russian language crawl at the bottom of the screen.
And you might have witnessed the recent diatribe by CNBC’s Rick Santelli against the Obama plan to help homeowners battling foreclosure. Santelli (below) even went so far as to suggest viewers stage a “Chicago Tea Party” revolt. When the President’s Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, suggested that Santelli check out the mortgage rescue plan and “download it, hit print and begin to read it,” Santelli tried to incite fury among his viewers by claiming Gibbs was “threatening” him.
You might gather from all this that a significant number of Americans are outraged by the Obama Administration’s plans to restart the stalled economy and steer the nation along a progressive path; but that is far from the truth. What is going on is just another public relations campaign by the leaders of the far right, abetted by the gullibility and self-interest of media commentators. The President’s approval rating is very high: Two out of three Americans think he’s doing a good job. So there’s really no imminent threat of an armed uprising in America.
Hannity’s appeal for votes on the best way to overthrow the government, attracted less than a hundred votes. The “Boston Tea Party” also drew about a hundred participants. I have never met anyone who watches Santelli on CNBC. And Glenn Beck’s audience is made up of the usual low-information Fox viewers who rant about “baby murderers” and other lurid fantasies blamed on the hated “liberals.”
These right-wing “personalities” are trying to build their audiences and generate sales for their crazy books. Their influence does not extend beyond the “ditto heads” and “wing nuts” of the lunatic fringe, but there are enough of those to generate substantial sales. The “crowds” attending right-wing rallies are easily explained. The practice of busing in paid “demonstrators” to create a photo op is as old as politics. They might not even have read the messages on the placards they carry. And there is no shortage of funds for right-wing propaganda.
They cannot be ignored, however. Their wild talk could still be dangerous. As we have learned – tragically – in the past, it only takes one deranged person to snuff out a President’s life.