Over at Talking Points Memo, David Kurtz quotes a reader’s email on the outrage espoused by former Bush administration assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey at President Obama’s economic policies, comparing them to the fascist economic policies of Hitler and Peron. The reader’s email concludes:
I teach Latin American studies and have a pretty deep knowledge of right wing and left wing economic populists and I can tell you that were Ms. Ellen Sauerbrey my student that comment of hers would earn her an solid F. Not just because of her mistakes about Peron, or her utterly dangerous misunderstanding of Hitler, but for her obtuseness in confusing being a minority party with being under tyrannical oppression. [Emphasis added]
It’s that last part that is key. One of the dominant threads in the extreme Right’s narrative of the Obama administration is that he is creating a tyrannical, fascist government. That includes the following sub-narratives: he is destroying the Constitution; he is stealing the country from “us”; he is establishing a Nazi youth corps; he is marshaling an armed civilian army; and, of course, he is not legitimately President. Naturally none of these claims have any basis in reality, which begs the question, what the hell are the tea baggers on about?
Those that are most able to marshal coherent thought from the right surely recognize that this sort of outrage has utility in blocking President Obama’s agenda. But the answer that most comes to mind for the general tea bagger set, which it seems Sauerbrey is a part of, is that they are confusing the consequences that stem from losing a democratic election with oppression. Elections have consequences. When the nation overwhelmingly elects a Democratic president with massive Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, it is only natural that these Democratic elected officials will produce some combination of liberal and centrist policies that you would not have seen under a Republican administration (see: everything the Bush administration did).
As I’ve said before, the inability of the tea baggers to accept President Obama likely stems in good measure from underlying racism and a fear of the Other. But it is nonetheless driven by a lack of acceptance of the 2008 election results. The result is a fundamental confusion of what it means to be the minority party, to be subject to the policy aspirations of the majority, in a democratic system of government. It’s not tyrannical oppression, it’s what happens when you have bad ideas that the rest of the country does not like nor wish to see enacted.