Breaking up a toxic tea party

The anti-Obama rhetoric from the fringes of the Republican Party is reaching fever pitch, once again. And while it was alarming during the campaign, this time it is toxic. Even conservative anchors of Fox News are very concerned enough to call it frightening. Watch below.

In an op-ed piece published today by the NY Times, the author, Frank Rich, warns us that this rising right-wing rage could only lead to nothing good, both for us as a whole, and for the well-being of Pres. Obama. He argues that responsible Republican Party leaders ought to speak out against this rage the same way McCain did during the campaign. Read Mr. Rich’s op-ed here.

For a respected national, if not international paper, like The NY Times, to print an op-ed like Frank Rich’s is saying something serious. For conservative Fox News anchors to go on air to essentially say, “Folks, better look at this, or something deadly is going to happen,” is saying something urgent and frightening.

The right-wing smears over the work of the young, 145-day administration is un-American; this is not us. In a time when we should be ganging up against the bad economy, we are instead ganging up on each other. Republican leaders and opinion-makers must build an opposition strategy on something else more substantial than the utter annihilation of the young Obama administration. Good governance is not about this.

Through the false lens of a culture war, the Karl Rove-Dick Cheney-Rush Limbaugh-Bill O’Reilly clique and its toxic black propaganda is fanning the passions of the extreme right-wing base to near rebellion. And Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are capitalizing on it, instead of defusing it. Which is what responsible statesmen would do? Setting aside the need to score political points against Obama, what is Republican leadership about?

Americans are better, more decent, and more sensible than this. But the better, more decent and more sensible among us are choosing to look the other way. We cannot and Republican leaders must not allow partisan politics, regardless of who is president, to be driven only by anger, hate and now rage. The lessons of the past are far too many and too catastrophic.

As for responsible Republican leaders who are choosing to remain silent over this — Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Susan Collins, Colin Powell and others — shame on you. If the Republican party never finds its way back to political relevance, its members and leaders will have deserved it. If Republicans can’t control toxic rhetoric that is going out of hand, how can they argue to lead a country?

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