Let me finish tonight with the whiff of street thuggery in this tea party. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned to pay attention to when political movements begin to act out their extremist streaks. You tell me the last time a mainstream American candidate hired strong-arm types, paramilitary types, to provide him with street security? That guy up in Alaska has the guys you see here working for him? Do you find something historically familiar in this recruitment of street muscle to comprise your cadre? I do. These guys look a little “martial” for our American brand of politics. And what are they doing “arresting” a reporter out to ask their leader a question? And what do we make of this stomping scene in Kentucky. I’ve been to a lot of political events where all kinds of people show up. I’ve also see street scenes where thugs show up and take advantage of any disorder. They use chaos as their opportunity to hurt someone. Take a good look at this guy jamming his foot on that young woman’s neck. That’s not the behavior of someone who believes in live-and-let-live. That’s the instinct of someone bent on rigid, ideological “enforcement,” political street thuggery at its most graphic. Think I’m seeing things? Check out this Tea-Partier in New York state who thought another reporter - not me - who had dared to ask him a question he didn’t like. “I’ll take you out!” What’s your reaction to that. What do you think is going on “there?” Where’re they getting these candidates? Could it be that the tea partiers are nominating folks of the fringe who have been pushed aside over the years but are now getting near actual public office? Catch this guy up in Ohio who spends his weekends strutting in a Nazi uniform? If that turns you off, it hasn’t pushed away Republican leader John Boehner who’s out there saluting the guy. Wonder if he knows the right salute? Then, there are the real right-wingers like Sharron Angle who talks of people using their right to carry a gun against politicians who don’t vote the right way. “Second amendment remedies” she calls ‘em, the right people have to take up arms against a government it doesn’t like. There’s a whiff of something here, of something I dare not speak its name, something redolent of an earlier era and of a distant far-right politics we’d like to think is gone but not forgotten.
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A whiff of something from an earlier era