Non-patriots can concoct their own opinions, not their own facts – nor get away with denunciation of what drives democratic legitimacy, namely elections. When rage, victimhood and racism fuse, mass hysteria will embrace not just preposterous conspiracies, but lunacy and violence against the very values phony patriots extoll.
In fact, the word “rage” comes from the Latin for madness (rabere to be mad) and the Sanskrit for violence (rabhas). Root meanings fit today perfectly, merging “violent or unrestrained anger – fury, ire, wrath” with with mania and passion. Perhaps we shouldn’t be stunned when rage produces mania, then violence, a cocktail today that begins with delusions of illegitimacy.
Close to half of Republicans labor under an unpardonable delusion: that political legitimacy is a matter of their outrage or racism – or that of rapacious radio runts or boorish, self-approved voices of God. How else to interpret the Harris poll, reporting 45% of the GOP reject President Obama as American born, thus not legitimate? That 24% imagine Obama the Antichrist (whatever that means) disturbs me less, being a theological fancy about invisible dominions.
The Party of No Legitimacy
Look folks, this is no leftwing scheme, nor pro-Obama spin. Only one sanctioned process awards indisputable legitimacy in a democratic republic: lawful elections, mirroring majority rule, finalized as necessary in the courts. Like the gamut of federal powers, or the myriad of crimes including brick throwing, treason and secession, no individual, or town, county, or state gets to cherry-pick which laws or which election results to recognize. Do elections count or what?
Bulwark to civilization, legitimacy is thus conferred by the collective and confirmed by institutions. After county and state confirmation of voting, the Electoral College bestows presidential legitimacy, finished up with inauguration and oath-taking. That’s it, except for the shouting. Anyone who then willfully denies a duly installed figure denies American democracy, committing intellectual treason if not sedition.
Is this rocket science, birthers? Because denying and defying an inaugurated president makes you delusional and dangerous if it lasts more than five minutes – wrong on the facts, on the law, on the Constitution, and omniscient reality.
Legitimacy Not Excellence
That leaders are dishonest, unpopular, or stupid – like W.’s glorification of a secretive, extremist clique – or corrupted by sex, power, and money – doesn’t dispel legitimacy: only formal indictment and replacement does that. Nevada’s Senator Ensign wins the classic sleazebag prize by paying off his mistress’ family – but he’s still a legitimate senator, an equal among betters. However gerrymandered or bought, legal elections either dictate winners – or call a Constitutional Convention pronto.
Thus, it beggars the imagination when hypocritical “patriots” deny the legitimacy of a president simply because they can’t stand his policies or allies or skin color. You cannot, without inviting political chaos, claim to elevate legal, Constitutional elections as unassailable, then peevishly disdain results that displease. Worry less about the Antichrist and consider what’s unAmerican and a problem right now: the tantrums of chronic sore losers.
The sanctity of majority rule comes from its absoluteness, however impermanent, thus honoring what most voters choose. National politics implodes without adult supervision, considering quorums and committee meanings, even unity against national foes (terrorists here and abroad). Just as one can’t be half-pregnant, there’s no half president, half-legitimate commander-in-chief. That went for George Bush, for whom rightwing operatives arguably “stole” the 2000 presidential election. By our rules, messy details vanish once the decision is legally approved and enacted. Without legitimacy, this complex nation falls to mob rule, mass hysteria, or pitch-fork paranoia.
Where do rightwingers get their delusions of grandeur, their arrogant “right” to trump elections? No one controls everything, just as angry liberals had to deal with Dick Cheney as V.P. for eight years. People don’t control many of life’s huge variables, like our place of birth, parents, siblings, genetics, home town, state, nationality, race, religious indoctrination, even political orientation. The right doesn’t get to willfully violate our election outcomes.
The Tea Party of Sedition
Rage doesn’t have to get to secession to feed incitement to riot. Is that not why “taking the law into your own hands” is so dangerous, with the ultimate public crime being political assassination, when terrorists insist their individual will trumps everyone else’s? Public protest and civil disobedience, non-violently challenging bad laws, are defensible, ultimately defining the extent and degree of government authority, whether collecting taxes, educating children, regulating drugs and disease, or drafting youngsters for war. Denying legitimacy, however, of legitimate government assaults the social contract which defines citizenship. It’s another kind of domestic bomb against democracy.
Former Bush speech writer David Frum (“the axis of evil” line) now warns rightwing indoctrination, along with arrogant Congressional firebrands, make unquestioning Tea Baggers “more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed.” When do the rational remnants on the right, if any, excoriate fomenters of sedition, the “reload and re-shooters” like Sarah Palin, before all hell breaks loose? By giving allegiance to baseless conspiracies, disproved time and again, screaming rabble-rousers define their own deranged illegitimacy. Though birthers don’t match Christian militias as national threats, their mindless attachment to disruptive conspiracies can enrage armed extremists with fingers on the trigger.