Crying “Fire” in a Crowded Theater
This year in American politics also saw the regrettable convergence of several especially loud and ugly political factions. Between the viscious tone of debate over health care reform (which Republicans were basically dead set on obstructing by any means necessary) and the rising anti-Obama movement amongst some “angry white voters” evident at many Tea Party gatherings, America’s political and popular discourse descended to the highest level of vitriol and downright hatefulness that this country has seen in decades. Examples of particularly egregious political speech include: racial epithets being shouted at African-American members of Congress as they entered Congressional Halls to vote on health care; homophobic slurs being thrown at out U.S. Senator Barney Frank and his lover as they entered Congress hand in hand just prior to the health care vote; and even shouts of “baby killer” being aimed at avidly anti-abortion Rep. Bart Stupak as he cast his vote on the health care legislation—which thanks to him included a clause ensuring that no federal funding would be used towards any abortion or birth control procedures. Despite Stupak’s adamantly anti-abortion stance, it seems he wasn’t quite adamant enough for a certain faction of the far right—which pretty much sums up the tone and character of the year in politics that was.