For people who feel strongly about politics, election outcomes can be a real kick in the balls sometimes. Yes, you win some and you lose some, and we all get used to it. On occasion, though, there's a candidate who really gets under your skin; someone who represents everything you hate about politics, everything that is wrong with America. Then he wins and you feel like punching a wall and/or telling the entire country to screw itself and/or swearing off politics forever because it's all hopeless.
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And then of course you get over it.

I felt that way for a few days after the 2004 election. Good lord did I hate George W. Bush. Still do. Whatever the idiotic run-up to the Iraq War didn't destroy of my sanity, that election did. I'm fairly certain that even if I live for another fifty years, 2002 and 2003 will be the worst I'll ever see from this country.
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Then Bush got re-elected after a campaign that never seemed to end and was truly hard to watch. It felt like the country had completely lost its mind and there was no turning back.

Then I settled down and started to think about it. Bush was just slightly over 50% approval at the time of the election, so based on history we would have expected him to win.
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John Kerry was the Mitt Romney of the Democratic Party, a guy who got nominated because he was rich and had decent name recognition and there really wasn't anyone else to nominate. He didn't inspire anyone except for people who really, really hated Bush and would have voted for Carrot Top if it meant getting rid of him. By the end of 2005 the nation was largely sick of BushCo's bullshit, and the next two elections were Democratic routs.
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You know, the world didn't end.

There are quite a few people out there who have the same viscerally negative reaction to Obama that many of us did to Bush. Just like lots of us swore and fumed and said mean things after the 2004 election, lots of people will have plenty of swearing and venting to do if Obama is re-elected in two weeks. I'm a bit nervous, though. The anti-Obama rhetoric has a flavor all its own, which is to say apocalyptic and violent and tribalist. It worries me not because I think it represents the thinking of the average Republican – it doesn't – but because there is some minority, however small, that seems primed for a major over-reaction if Obama wins.

There is some number of people out there – I have no idea if it's ten, a hundred, or a million, but they exist – who are going to, for lack of a classier term, completely and totally lose their shit if Romney does not win. It has little to do with Romney and everything to do with confirming their paranoid suspicion about what has happened to Their country. It has been stolen from them by the Muslim Usurper, who of course will have stolen the election (how could he win legitimately?) with busloads of illegal immigrants and Welfare Queens bribed with Obama Phones and the New Black Panthers and the U.N. and every other neo-Bircher boogeyman in the modern pantheon. If you thought the 1990s were bad under Clinton – Waco, Oklahoma City, the Michigan Militia, the Montana Freemen, etc. – I don't want to think about the level of anti-government insanity we might be primed to see in the next four years.

Maybe I'm wrong and the reaction to an Obama win will be pretty uneventful. They'll kick around Romney for a few weeks, piss and moan about Obama, try to float some baseless conspiracy theories about the loss, and then get over it. Hell, the right wing media will probably be thrilled on the inside; nothing drives their audience quite like having The Enemy in power. But man, some of these people seem remarkably unhinged. To hear them talk, to see what they write all over the internet, to see what their heroes say on TV and talk radio…they do not seem to be tethered to reality. If they have a relationship with sanity, it's their own special version of it. The overheated rhetoric certainly makes it plausible that "Second Amendment remedies" and homemade truck bombs in front of Federal courthouses will seem like a decent option among the angry, frustrated, and half-crazy people who want so badly to take Their Country back.

51 thoughts on “THE FRAYED ENDS OF SANITY”

  • I predict that the Right-wing crazies are going to get a fair bit crazier in the next few years, regardless of who is president, but it'll be worse under Obama, of course. Conservatism is a dying ideology (they can't change shifting demographics), and nothing fights harder than a critter in it's death throes.

  • Given what we've seen from the GOP leadership — ie their reticent silence over Angle, Lim(p)baugh, Beck(erhead) and Co, Giffords, etc — they complicitly endorse the outcome you've described simply because it has been politically expedient for them. Combine it with Turtle's "One Term", and that general shitholery that tries to pass itself off as a human being in the form of Gangrenitch explicitness, and well…

    Best hope you don't have any official government business to do for the next four years. I'm thankful I'm not there.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    This country always had crazy extreme wingers. We even had them on the left in the 60s. It is not impossible that we harvesting the bitters fruits of the terrible violence we have inflicted upon the legitimate owner of this continent, American Natives. We also allow financial violence sanctioned by both parties.

    You are probably right, but it is not just the crazies, it's the whole system.

  • I was laughing with a colleague a month or so ago, riffing on the "Romney is a Liberal Plant Sent to Destroy the GOP" conspiracy theory. Another colleague of the conservative persuasion overheard and interrupted the fun to let us know that the theory "may not be too far from the truth".

    This guy has never struck me as a loon. I'd describe him as an old-school conservative, who inhabits the same really-real, fact-based world I do. At least I did, before this election cycle. Now I'm left to wonder if conservative rhetoric is radicalising even the sane people on that side of the aisle.

  • Guess the only thing to do is drive a stake through their heart at the ballot box, again and again, and again and again. In accordance with the Second Amendment, I also do that and can also do that other thing, at a moment's notice. Vote Blue!

  • Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    I didn't hate George Bush; I remember specifically thinking "Well, that's that– he'll be the President now and there it is." (after the Supreme Court decision).

    I didn't hate George Bush, that is, until the Iraq invasion. I knew Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and i saw that invasion as a straight-up war crime, the kind of thing people got hanged for in 1947. THEN I hated him.

    The hate for Barack Obama is different– he has been hated by the extreme right since before he took office; and the hate has only ratcheted up. They haven't hated him for what he's done– they hate him for what he is.

    And, I expect violence. There are way too many crazy white men with guns who are going to take an Obama re-election badly. I fully expect "lone wolf" attacks during a second Obama administration; and I definitely expect those attacks to target black and brown people.

    I would love to be wrong, but what I've seen of American white men over the last four years tells me I'm not.

    (and if you're a white man who's offended by what I just said, dude, you need to talk to your white brothers about what they're doing and saying, not me)

  • Take an awesome song out of Metallica's best album ever, work it into a post title — pretty cool.

    It also makes me feel pretty old.

  • I say, hit these crazies–at least the ones who read—with a little amateur sociology, to wit that our right wingnuts are a direct parallel to the Muslim crazies. That the causes—a desperate and impotent fear of a multinational and multicultural world, principally, but one that is already here—are the same for all these fundamentalist loonies.

    The Tea Party–our own American Al-Queda. Irrational Hatred Rules!

    Maybe "American Al-Queda" isn't very catchy. Christian Jihadists? Better minds than mine can be set to work on it.

    Surely they'd be shamed by the symmetry of it all.

  • The stark insanity about Obama in people who appear otherwise normal is frightening. They go from placid to foaming in a heartbeat. Example: last weekend I had plans to go to a fall festival in (town) a few hours away. I called an acquaintaince I used to be quite friendly with until she moved to that town, which is too far away for frequent get-togethers, to see if she wanted to come as my guest. Me: "Hi! I've got tickets for (event) in your town and I'd like to bring you as my guest. We can drink spiced wine and buy some crazy crap we don't need and catch up with each other." Her: "Sure! I'd love to! (pause) You're not going to vote for THAT N***ER next month, are you?" Thus followed a 10-minute tirade about how the simultaneously Muslim Christian Atheist man with Fascist Socialist Communist leanings had single-handedly destroyed America and was going to force every woman to undergo an abortion (even the ones who aren't pregnant?!?). It was the perfect distillation of every Fox Talking Point.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Back when I had Bush Derangement Syndrome, I had some reasonable excuses:
    Tax cuts for the richest
    Ignoring warnings about 9/11
    2 idiotic wars and occupations
    Shipping unqualified Evangelicals to Baghdad to handle the occupartion
    A hand-out to pharmaceutical companies
    Ignoring a drowning city
    Spying on citizens
    Elimination of Habeas Corpus

    Obama Derangement Syndrom is purely based on the President's race and political party.

    And yes, if Obama's reelected I fully expect trouble.
    There will be blood.
    Hopefully, it'll be the moronic racist's and Conservatives, but there WILL be blood. They will be stoked, locked, and loaded – their ammo clips full, their heads and hearts empty.

  • You are not wrong. The reaction to an Obama win will not be uneventful which is why, as I've said here before, if O wins I am predicting the largest domestic terror event in US history.

  • @CU: The bizarre thing about your list is that all of these fools were okay with this Gubamin' over reachin' an' monitorin' n stuff when it was Shrub in charge of it. Sometimes ya gotta sacrifice a little bit of freedom in the name of safety an all. Same with racking up a huge unpaid debt in military expenditures, and handing over taxpayer dollars to those precious flowers of the job creators.

    Yet all of a sudden these same programs are an indication that Satan is now in the White House (Hey Obama, didn't you see the key word there?). Go figure.

  • I was here to toss around how I was accused of having Bush Derangement Syndrome and berate you for not using specific examples of the right-wing loons.

    c u n d gulag beat me to the BDS. (Although, to be fair, I think people would say that our critics would say the list was BS, and we were really critical of—what, wealthy people? Christians? People who rightly attack…no, no, I'm getting myself worked up again…) I think the ODS accusation has a surface story, as well, and it's not race/party. It has to do with Obamacare and taxes. (Nevermind that most of the people protesting would agree with his actions on those two subjects, they're convinced…CONVINCED by the talking heads that they don't.)

    Still, I would have laughed harder (and I like a good, hard guffaw) at the story with some specific examples…

  • And just to add another level to the justification for outrage on the crazy right, consider the possibility of an Obama electoral win with Romney winning the popular vote by a small margin.

    Hoo boy, will that be fun.

    OTOH, if Romney wins, Harry Reid becomes the bulwark between sanity and Armageddon.

  • @ Rosie's Dad.
    I know you said 'won't that be fun' if Romney won the popular vote and Obama won the Electoral Collage, but fun is the last thing that I would call it. The last time that a president was elected that was so hated by the South, eleven states committed treason and killed 600,000 people.

    Fun is the last thing that I would call that.

  • @ sluggo: It was meant in the most sarcastic possible way. (I thought it was obvious, especially since I am here.)

  • On the plus side, the majority of people most susceptible to that rhetoric are either 1) too fat/lazy/old/disabled/rural to wreak any real havoc or 2) limited to areas of like minded people upon whom they are most likely to wreak havoc.

    I mean, let's say some right wing revolutionary gets his hands on some fertilizer and sets off a U-Haul bomb in the parking deck at the Galleria in Birmingham, AL. How many liberals is that going to take out, exactly?

    All gallows humor aside, what you had in the wake of the first election was the nut in Pittsburgh that shot and killed police officers because in his mental delusion he thought the administration was going to take his guns away, and the nut in Tennessee that shot up a Unitarian church. What I would fear most, really, is being a blue organization in red state territory near a military base.

  • If Obama's reelection will cause a rampant series of lone wolf killers or even small party vigilantes that's still better than the alternatives. Sure the news will eat it up and it's terrible, blahblahblah, but 12 years of Reagan/Bush Sr institutionalized racism through the war on drugs — no amount of vigilantism can be that horrible.

    Side note / barely relevant – Interesting piece on NPR this weekend (I know, I know, I'm a rightwing-pinko-commie) about Oklahoma's state-wide preschool system. You know, their socialized universal preschool education system. From what I know of Oklahoma and Oklahomans it's not that far out of the ordinary for them to have a big state program – as long as it's a state program and not the federal government it's better/okay, but still — Oklahoma has one of if not the most complete early childhood education plan in the nation. This is the same state where Obama didn't carry a single district (thanks again NPR) and where I have heard wonders from it's residents like 'What if I like to stick it in my horse every once in a while, can I marry her too?' and 'Obama wants to raise our kids and take control over the schools'.

    Personally I think the main effect of this election 'either way' is that it's proved the system is working great — for TV ratings, news stations, elected officials, national parties, etc. So after Obama wins 52~47 expect more of the same in 2 years (with a Republican shift in the house & minor gains in the senate – because of lower turnout and to provide 'checks and balances' against the Dem overlords) and two more billion dollar candidates in 2016. U-S-Freaking-A!

  • MY personal feeling is that the least we can expect if Obama wins is a rerun of the 1960s (socially if not economically). The worst would be more like a rerun of the 1860s. Of course, if Romney wins, all bets are off. It might only be as bad as the 1920s, or the 1930s, or the 1930s in Germany. Or worse – Heinlein may have been accurately predicting in If This Goes On. Stranger things have happened.

  • @sluggo
    Are you saying that if the Old Confederacy wanted to secede again, we'd actually try to stop them? Because fuck that noise.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    "What I would fear most, really, is being a blue organization in red state territory near a military base."

    That was me in Fayetteville, NC, home of Fort Bragg:
    Anti-war and Anti-Rendition protest organizer. And one of the people who helped the Obama campaign since the beginning.

    I didn't turn my back too often.

    In late 2007, early 2008, putting Obama bumperstickers on my car took an act of courage. I kept waiting to find my tires slashed.

    But after the economy went in the sh*tter, and McCain chose Palin, people who used to look at me weird, and talking up McCain, were all of a sudden treating me with a degree of respect.

    This year, it's probably worse. But this year, I'm back in blue NY, after having moved back here in early 2009.

  • Oh, people will say all manner of shit on the internets. DOING that shit, however, requires getting off the couch. I'm not too worried.

  • @ mothra: I agree. The shrieks over Obama are just noise, and for good reason–they're the screams of people who are just enjoying the adrenaline rush of a good, unprovoked, consequence-free rage-fest. Because when the red mist fades, they have to be confronted with the fact that…there's really nothing tangible to be pissed off about. Not in their immediate lives. Not that Obama has done. Looking for work still sucks, but the unemployment benefits keep coming. Nobody's getting arrested and detained for praying in school. Churches are still open for business. Gas is too expensive, but you can still get it, everyday. Food is cheap and plentiful. And the internet offers you all the free porn you could consume in a dozen lifetimes. Bottom line: life just doesn't suck *nearly* enough for anyone to risk what he has for a shot at something better. People with warm homes and full stomachs don't rebel.

    Mind you, there are always the crazies. But there always have been, and there's nothing you can do about that. (Note how it was *imperative* for Guiteau to kill Garfield–yeah, because *that guy* was the lynchpin of history.) IS the next Timothy McVeigh out there? Yep. But he'll be renting his van no matter who wins in November.

    I'm not being optimistic–it's just that my misanthropy is so great that I can't give White America enough credit to believe that they'll put down the Cool Ranch Doritoes long enough get off their dead asses to take up arms. Not when we're so close to Bowl season.

  • mel in oregon says:

    the problem with most liberals is they think everything that has happened recently is unique. plus they're too lazy to learn from history, & thus see today's problems not linked to the past. do you really think racism started with the election of obama? racism has always been a great part of america since europeans came to the americans & started slaughtering the natives & stealing their land & resources. have you forgotten all the africans brought here as slaves to make europeans now living in the americas wealthy? the civil war didn't end racism, jim crow went on for another century out in the open & still goes on today in a more hidden form with all the blacks in prison & much higher levels of unemployment. i hated gw bush, but i also hated reagan & nixon. i also hate clinton. kennedy or obama? i have no use for them, nor do i respect them. nothing is more irritating than hearing someone say, "well that was before my time". for christ's sake sonny jim. learn from the past. romney? just the lastest in a long line of characters that are stealing everything from the working people & giving it to the leisure, wealthy class of non working investors. obama, yes the victim of tea party insane racism, but also a wallstreet puppet. either way, 90% of you will be worse off 4 years from now than you are today. it's mathematically impossible for the economy to improve with current policies.

  • @ mel

    There is huge difference between neglecting a house, and burning it to the ground.

    That is the election choice next month.

  • Naturally enough, a lot of posts start with the phrase "if Obama wins" of something similar, then go on to predict events in the aftermath of this victory. I think something else might happen. I think the wingnuts will try to change the very definition of victory. They will bring dozens of lawsuits in every swing state, and possibly others, attempting to delay certification of election results. The election officials in some states will aid and abet this. Voter fraud is non-existent, but election fraud will be common. They brought it off in 2000. They've had 12 years to perfect it. There will be such a shitstorm revolving around vote totals from wingnuts, which will be met by the left with accusations of massive election fraud, some of which will be factual, but very difficult to conclusively prove. Obama may "win," but it sure won't look like it, or feel like it. All this will provide fuel for the anger will trigger the right wing violence described in some of todays posts. Massive chaos, then the fire.

  • I read a lot of the wingnut forum conversations in social media and in a national online Tea Party group and I've gotta say, I do expect nasty outbreaks if Obama is re-elected. These people are driven not just by personal hatred, but by an intense sense that they're the last standing vanguard against the total destruction of America. Their true believer hysteria can't be overstated. Most are probably indeed just blathering internet warriors, but the crazies among them will get off the couch, there's been hints of organized plans, and yeah, they've got guns.

    That said, they're fully anticipating "inner city riots" should Romney be elected….lots of talk of stockpiling bullets to be ready for the race wars they're certain will occur.

  • "Of course, if Romney wins, all bets are off. It might only be as bad as the 1920s, or the 1930s, or the 1930s in Germany"

    Yes, because Romney being elected is like losing a massively destructive war and being forced to accept humiliating, economically devastating terms for peace.

    Hyperbole much?

  • @mothra & J Dryden: I dunno. There's something else in the air (Warning! Anecdata alert!).

    My sister is a military wife who's been living in that right wing bubble for almost 15 years. She's never shown an interest in firearms at any point in her life, but has taken up shooting in the last few months. This isn't a matter of her being surrounded by rural gun culture, either – her husband is a senior officer currently stationed at the Pentagon, and they live in Arlington, VA.

    Clearly a significant proportion of the people around her expect violence in the near term. Whether as perpetrators or victims is open to question, but still…

  • There's more and more evidence of coordinated, massive voter registration fraud on the Republicans' part, like the last fiasco in Virginia where a GOP operative tossed a bunch of Democratic registrations in the dumpster…yet the (Republican) State Board of Elections is declining to look into it, claiming the act "was not political". They're not even trying to hide their illegal acts anymore.

  • Halloween Jack says:

    "John Kerry was the Mitt Romney of the Democratic Party, a guy who got nominated because he was rich and had decent name recognition and there really wasn't anyone else to nominate."

    Oh, bullshit. Kerry had twenty years in the Senate at the time of the '04 election, i.e. twenty times as much public service as Romney has had (it's up to seven times now). His antiwar activities led to his getting on Richard Nixon's enemy list, and eventually to getting shat upon by the swift boaters. Even his money comes from marrying a ketchup heiress, not from taking some of daddy's money and buying up companies and kicking their workers to the curb. And, most importantly, even if he'd ended up taking the fall for the mortgage/banking crisis, he wouldn't have nominated Roberts and Alito to the SCOTUS, therefore no Citizens United.

  • Yes but during the election Kerry seemed to squander his anti-war credentials by getting in "I can kill more terrorists than you" spats with Bush. I remember one of his planks being that he would raise three new active army divisions if he were elected. Given the recruitment levels at the time and the fact that many Democrats were talking about a potential draft, that probably didn't go over too well with the young people(I remember MTV had Vote or Die commercials discussing a draft as though it were a real possibility).

  • @Arslan: "Hyperbole much?"

    Yeah, maybe.

    But Shrub left the US two wars, The Patriot Act, the biggest recession in recent memory, Citzens United, etc, etc… And he was elected under a "moderate /compassionate conservative" banner, pre-Tea Party.

    So, maybe not.

  • Bumpersticker seen on oversized pickups as of late: "I'll keep my gun, my money and my freedom. You keep the change." AS IF, Obama has tried to take anyone's guns, money or freedom. To what non-events are they reffering? The paranoid fantasies playing out in their brains? Let's have an actual conversation about real things, like health care, military spending, taxes, not fantasy-shit. These are the trolls that will vote for Romney, which is like voting for someone who will immediately kick you in the ass.

  • lol, the coup by the Supremos appointing Bush as president was enough to rebrand this country as a Banana Republic. what Obama's re election will do in the Red States, well, heaven knows.

    the way people on the Right laughed at the Left and at Bush Derangement syndrome. now it's reversed. i just don't remember a lot of violence, like today, at least. and 9-11 happened on Bush's "My Pet Goat" reading.

    in the meantime, our people are getting screwed by the Rich/Congress owned/ who write our laws, steal our money and Business continues to ship our jobs to China and elsewhere. the Right will never ever admit any error of judgment. so prepare for the worst if Obama wins.

    and read about Rmoney buying the company that will count the votes/software for the machines in Ohio. now that is just par for the course, i.e. voter fraud. makes Florida small time hustling.

    yes it will be an interesting time. Run, don't walk, for cover come Wednesday.

  • one interesting thing i discovered lately was the Louis Powell memo, Supreme Court Justice, thanks to Nixon. Read it and weep.

    the precurser to ALEC and US Chamber of Commerce, organized business takeover which foreshadowed Citizens United. here all along i hear all about how "liberal" Nixon was compared to St. Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Bush !!, etc. lol, if Nixon was liberal compared to those after him, well forget it folks. that goose is cooked, way past done.

    The Powell Memo laid the groundwork for the Corporate Takeover we see sanctified in Citizens United today. another Right wing successful organization coordinated by other Republicans. Why do these people hate America so???

  • @eau

    King George the W?

    Patriot Act passed 10/26/01

    HoR 357 to 66 Composition (D – 212, R – 221, I – 2)

    Senate 98 to 1 (Mr Feingold) " (D-50 R-50)

    RENEWAL of the P-Act cleared the Senate on 05/26/11

    HoR 275 to 144 Composition (D – 193 R – 242, V -1)

    Nays D -122, R – 27

    Senate 72 to 23 Composition (D – 51, R -47, I – 2)

    Ayes D – 31

    Nays R – 27

    I would like y'all to stop pretending that the Ds don't exist. Bush in no way decreed the P-Act nor did Pres Obama decree the renewal.

    The Ds could have single handedly stopped the original by filibuster and easily stopped or gutted the renewal in 2011 with most of those 31 ayes in the Senate.

    Bush wasn't a King and neither is Pres Obama (yet).


  • Hinterstoisser says:

    I disagree. I was in rural Idaho four years ago, in one of those old fashioned diners in which Fox News is always on the TVs above the bar, and I remember the proprietor saying "I was talkin' to some fellows up in Montana, and they said if this Obama gets elected there's gonna be blood in the streets." Of course, there was no revolution, and presumably the Monatanans in question (and probably the proprietor to) went back to stockpiling their guns to defend against the eventual government attempt to take their land. Which is a roundabout way of saying that if Obama wins reelection, I don't think the reaction will be any different this time around.

  • I quail in fear of the 101st Hoveround Battalion rolling into action on their mobility scooters. Those things can do 4, 5 mph easily.

  • I'm fairly certain that even if I live for another fifty years, 2002 and 2003 will be the worst I'll ever see from this country.

    Really – have you slept through 2012?

    John Kerry was the Mitt Romney of the Democratic Party, a guy who got nominated because he was rich and had decent name recognition and there really wasn't anyone else to nominate.

    Jesus Christ, Ed. Kerry was uninspiring, but he's smart and he stood for things. There was some there there. Romney is an empty suit, abysmally ignorant on all important topics, foreign and domestic, and just bright enough to lift a pen sign into law the bills that ALEC originates.

    There are quite a few people out there who have the same viscerally negative reaction to Obama that many of us did to Bush.

    Except the reaction to Bush wasn't knee jerk in any sense. He worked hard to earn our contempt. In stark contrast, all Obama has to do is show up. Looking so damned black has rather a lot to do with it.

    I'm a bit nervous, though. The anti-Obama rhetoric has a flavor all its own, which is to say apocalyptic and violent and tribalist. It worries me not because I think it represents the thinking of the average Republican . . .

    Maybe not the average Republican, but I think it's pretty close to the only slightly below average Republican. Also – many very smart and highly educated regressives have an Obama derangement that defies all logic.

    It is truly frightening.


  • Halloween Jack says:

    @Arslan: I remember one of [Kerry's] planks being that he would raise three new active army divisions if he were elected.

    I sincerely doubt that the Yoof Uv 2Day did the calculus to figure out that Kerry was really talking about a draft and voted accordingly. And, really, Kerry did pretty well against W given that the latter was a wartime president (the real human cost of the war had barely begun to sink in at that point; the Iraq War was less than two years old at that point) presiding over an economy that seemed to be doing great.

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