The "eliminationist" tropes we've been hearing about recently are part of the problem, but so are the less violent notions we see them parroting every day: That Obama is a Muslim, an alien, a psychopath, and consciously trying to destroy the United States; that Teddy Roosevelt was a dangerous radical; that America's scientists are engaged in a deliberate conspiracy to bankrupt the nation via global warming fraud; that deficits, which were harmless and even kinda fun under Reagan, are under Obama a menace to the future of our famous statues; etc. etc. etc.
The cumulative impact of this kind of magical thinking may or may not lead to assassinations, but it certainly weakens the sufferer's ability to respond to even obvious problems in any reasonable way. And in the long run this is more dangerous to the Republic than the grrr-lookit-me-I'm-a-Minuteman blood-lust we're currently focused on. The wingnut looks, for example, upon millions of citizens financially unable to visit a doctor when they're sick, and the first thing he asks himself is, "How can we defend these people from socialism?" He sees the stock market doing great while ordinary people can't find jobs, and surmises, "This Administration is anti-business." Etc.
Even if you embarrass them (fond hope!) into talking less about guns and revolution, you aren't touching the real problem. I'm not confident that it's curable. The best we can do is keep them away from sharp objects and the levers of power.
Comments, too; a lot of which disagree with his assessment. If you're getting there late, as I did, it's a daunting five pages or more, but worth it. I went through saying, "Oooh, I'm gonna feature that one tomorrow" at least seven or eight times.
If I can, or must, return to the fog-shrouded swamps of my own cerebral landscape, then I agree with everybody, and don't, and don't know what to make of it, except I'm sure we're all on the wrong page, or something. The levers of power are broken, or else over my lifetime they've been reconnected to operate a country not my own. And you can't trust a repairman; they're all certified by the same people who broke (or swiped) the thing. I have a sense--I started blogging specifically from the sense--that this is a center-left country at its heart which has been seized by issues as defined by the Right, and that the proper response--of Liberals, who seek to make things better, not scabrous mongrels like myself--was to show America, aggressively, since that's all it understands any more, which side it was really on. Instead, after twelve years of responding to Reaganism the way the French responded to the Wehrmacht (and that's probably unfair. To the French.), they more or less codified the differences (let's elect a President who really cares!) and then offered to split them if the other side would just play nice.
So much of our politics seems to be a debate about how best to remove most of the pieces of eggshell from our omelette, and none about figuring out how to properly crack an egg. If you're concerned about eliminationist rhetoric--and you have every reason to be--then you should be hopping mad at the Obama administration (as you very possibly are) for the failed policy of Timid Response, and hopping mad that it could have been voted into power in a pivotal year without the extraction of a promise to Do Something about the madness of the Republican party. The timidity of the 110th Congress (in fairness, Pelosi wouldn't have had the votes for impeachment even if she'd had the political courage; in fairness, it's always the Left which is saying "in fairness"); the USADOUBLEGOODPATRIOTAct, The Iraq War Resolution, the 2000 Elections: it isn't long before the litany predates most voters. If you think a toxic political environment was a contributing factor in the Giffords shooting, then the failure to confront it--going back to Nixon, at least, in some quarters--is inculpatory.
Instead, when this sort of thing gets noted, it's Jon Stewart winging an opening segment Monday because it's no time to be funny, and pointing fingers at James Carville for blaming Palin, as though Carville was as major a factor in the Democratic party as Palin is in hers, and, in Norbizness' absence, the official spokesman for The Left. Dreaming a World where none of this exists is not the same as confronting it where it does. Carville may be dead wrong, and/or gauche, but what he said is not entirely unwarranted; for that you have to go to the people who dragged out "The President once said 'bring a gun to a knife fight'". Palin, and the Teabaggers, and the Right, and the Republican party are responsible for their rhetoric. They are responsible--not solely, but unanimously--for the complete lack of gun control in this violent land. They may be unfairly hoist on a canard here, but Who Controls How An Issue Is Raised? I wish we'd have a rational discussion about economic exploitation or basic justice every day of the year, not just when Wal*Mart gets caught looting timecards or "extraordinary rendition" hits the headlines. I wish we wouldn't have a discussion about our Toxic Political Environment only when it's time to urge "both" "sides" to shut up. I wish Charlie Manson didn't represent Youth Culture, Altamont didn't represent Rock n' Roll, and Len Bias didn't represent What Happens On Your First Hit Of Coke. I wish I could still buy a Betacorder.
I wish a loon with a semi-auto Glock shooting up innocent people--Congresswomen or no--was reason enough to discuss gun violence and gun culture. It's not. So I'll take what I can get.