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Fake outrage needs to stop if GOP is to be taken seriously

It comes as no surprise that conservatives are adrift in the wake of last November’s election, in which the voting public gave the Democratic Party what is by recent standards a very strong mandate. I’ve commented on the lamentable presentations of several would-be Republican Party leaders with some degree of schadenfreude. But some conservatives no longer see small-d democratic politics as a worthwhile enterprise. They lost an election, so they’re taking their belief in our nation’s supposedly inviolable founding principles and going home.

That’s more disturbing than it is funny.

Liberals felt disenfranchised during the Bush years, due in part to the conscious efforts of GOP leadership to disenfranchise them. Being in the minority is no fun, but it happens to the best of us in a democracy.

Consider the behavior of liberals during the Bush administration. There were conspiracy theories put forward and ugly words and ridiculous accusations hurled at the majority party. Six years ago, at the start of the Iraq War, the GOP called those of us who opposed the invasion “traitors.” I was a mere freshman in high school, and I knew enough to understand that the Bush administration’s justifications were bogus. I went to protests and wrote letters to Congress. These were fitting responses to a foolish and illegal policy, one that has now proven to be one of the single biggest mistakes in the history of the U.S. government.

Despite the grave nature of the undertaking we in the anti-war movement were protesting, to my knowledge no one contemplated violence as a means to prevent the invasion from happening.

FOX News host Sean Hannity was one of the principal cheerleaders for the war and eagerly implied that its opponents were treasonous.

Compare that to a poll posted by a user of Hannity’s Web site entitled “What Kind of Revolution?” The poll read as follows:

“There’s a lot of talk on this board about armed revolt. I am curious what form of such a revolt the revolutionaries would prefer.”

The poster presented three options—military coup, armed rebellion and war for secession. There is some significant minority of Republicans who harbor revolutionary intentions against the Obama administration. I never heard a liberal call for an armed rebellion during the Bush years. Who are the traitors here?

Barack Obama is the duly elected president of the United States. He is conducting policy much as he promised to do in last year’s campaign, in which a majority of American voters endorsed him. There are legitimate means of dissent in a democracy, up to and including nonviolent civil disobedience. But it is shocking to hear that people born and raised in America and schooled in its proud tradition of the peaceful transition of power would advocate violence merely because they lost an election. I can assure anyone contemplating such a thing that they are not more offended by Obama’s policies than I was by the war.

Indeed it is strange that anyone would be so offended. The policies the conservatives are rebelling against are hardly radical. One major rallying point is Obama’s tax plan, which will eventually put the top marginal income tax bracket at 39.6 percent, meaning that income over and above $250,000 per year will be taxed at that rate. The pending restoration of the Clinton-era tax rate has met with the sort of paroxysms that ought to be reserved for some gross atrocity.

“Going Galt” is used to describe reducing one’s income to avoid moving into the top marginal tax bracket. This is distinct from “gulching,” named after Galt’s Gulch, the libertarian community populated by the corporate captains fleeing government regulation in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. These Galtian dissidents are not building their own society; they are merely being petty and refusing to do anything that might benefit the society they live in now.

This is nonviolent civil disobedience, but it happens to be for an embarrassingly inane reason. They aren’t venturing outside the blanket of protection offered by society, merely refusing to be productive. Maybe they should call the movement “going golf.” Rich people are indignant that society is asking very slightly more of them—indeed, far less than was asked during the prosperous 1950s and ’60s. And so they have decided to go into what amounts to early retirement, bleating about their victimization as they live a lifestyle most people will never be able to accommodate.

It is galling to hear protests of this kind from people who complain on the one hand about dissent as treason and on the other about lazy wards of the state sponging off of the productive people in society. If they would like to be mad as hell, they should at least find an atrocity to be outraged


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