There’s really nothing all that new or interesting about reports of GOP/TeaParty legislators at various levels making comments which are questionable, irresponsible, incomprehensible, or just downright outrageous — and the story of Nevada Assemblyman Wheeler’s latest adventures would be merely one among many if not for the window into GOP/TeaParty thinking opened by the Lyon County Republicans.
Now, who are those “forces?” Let’s assume this introductory point was crafted with some care, and the Lyon Republicans meant precisely what they said. What does this tell us? There are other ways to describe the reaction to Assemblyman Wheeler’s off-putting remarks about “voting for slavery if that’s what his constituents want,” the term criticized might have been employed, or condemnation, or denigration, or censure. However, the Lyon County GOP chose the word “attack.”
In the world of GOP/TeaParty liberals are attacking the righteous. Their religion is under attack [RNS], their liberty is under attack [TheHill], their schools are under attack [CapTimes], and their families are under attack. [CNN] They imagine a War on Christmas, on Easter, on their values, their homes and their sacred honor.
Avi Tuschman offered this assessment of the mentality:
If, as conservatives tend to believe, human nature is fundamentally competitive and self-interest prevails, then people live in a dangerous world. The “dangerous world” metaphor has long been associated with right-wing ideological views. In the last couple of centuries, though, this metaphor has taken the form of folk-Darwinism. University of Michigan philosopher Peter Railton has dubbed this worldview “your great-grandfather’s Social Darwinism,” in which “all creatures great and small [are] pitted against one another in a life-or-death struggle to survive and reproduce.” [Salon]
The language of assault continues: if there is an unwarranted attack upon the righteous, then the villains must be unethical and manipulative, seeking to criticize the Assemblyman with the explicit intent of taking more power in the Legislature. Calls for Assemblyman Wheeler’s resignation aren’t perceived as indignation from a few individuals who find Wheeler’s comments unconscionable, they MUST be part of a great assault on conservative voices in the public forum.
The Lyon County Republicans then offer Wheeler their unqualified support:
First, if we call for the total elimination of intentional misrepresentation of statements, then there will be precious little content on the Sunday morning chatter shows. Secondly, no one is questioning the right of Nevadans to vote for the representative of their choice — what is at issue is whether or not a person who displays a singular lack of judgment should continue to serve in a legislative body.
However, the real battle cry is incorporated in the predictable reproof to the press — corporate, media and other (unspecified) interests — which has the temerity to publicize views which contrast with the will of the conservative minority. The double standard is immediate and obvious.
The elasticity of conservative standards is quickly demonstrated by the “Obama lied” motif current in vogue, referring to the President saying if you like your health insurance plan you can stay on it. This is true for 85% of the U.S. population. The remaining 15% who purchase individual health insurance plans comprise about 5% of our total population. Of the 15% of policy holders (5% of the total population) who purchase individual plans some may have no problem at all because their insurance policies are ACA compliant, i.e. they are REAL insurance plans. Others, approximately 3%, who purchased what Consumer Reports was quick to call junk, will need to find plans on the exchange which actually cover medical treatment, and don’t rip off consumers.
Now, if someone has been castigating the President and the Department of Health and Human Services for “lying” about how those who purchased these junk policies will have to purchase more expensive (real) insurance, does this constitute “intentional misrepresentation?”
Another point in this regard, an insurance company off-loading non-compliant policies may indeed send a letter saying the “policy has been canceled,” this doesn’t mean that the insurance has been cancelled — the individual may well be offered a new, ACA compliant policy to replace the one that wasn’t compliant. A wise consumer will compare the new policy (and its prices) with what is available on the exchange and decide accordingly during the enrollment period. Is this notification and elaboration “intentional misrepresentation?”
These examples are illustrative of another issue — Who is to speak? And, to whom do we listen? The right wing media has told its readers and listeners since time out of mind that IT was the sole source of Truth, a “fair and balanced” alternative to the Main Stream (Lame Stream) media, and have paid for it in the process, witness the 2012 election results:
“Conservatives were at an information disadvantage because so many right-leaning outlets wasted time on stories the rest of America dismissed as nonsense. WorldNetDaily brought you birtherism. Forbes brought you Kenyan anti-colonialism. National Review obsessed about an imaginary rejection of American exceptionalism, misrepresenting an Obama quote in the process, and Andy McCarthy was interviewed widely about his theory that Obama, aka the Drone Warrior in Chief, allied himself with our Islamist enemies in a “Grand Jihad” against America. Seriously?” [Atlantic]
What the Lyon County Republicans are demanding is that all voices other than the reassuring intonations of those who confirm their biases be scrutinized — preferably out of print and off the air waves. They will be watching, they warn, all those who print or broadcast alternative opinions and analyses and these will be assigned to the great pool of “corporate, media and other interests” which assail them.
In the interim they may very well remain tucked securely into their informational cocoon, in which women are renditions of caricatures in 1950’s sit-coms, in which ethnic minorities are safely assigned to segregated schools and housing, in which members of the LGBT community stay closeted, and those laid off in corporate mergers and acquisitions have only to “pull themselves together” and saunter down to the employment office to find hundreds of jobs for which they are qualified.
There isn’t much air wafting through that window on the world, and no, the controversy created by Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments and subsequent apology, isn’t part of a Great Liberal Conspiracy to bedevil those who know the Truth and represent Real America.
If the intention of that Great Liberal Conspiracy is to marginalize the GOP/TeaParty into a clique of misogynists, bigots, and low information voters — the GOP/TeaParty appears to be doing the job without need of outside assistance. However, they’d be better advised to open their window a bit.