Over the course of the last decade, liberal protesters like antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan and well-financed left-wing activist groups like Moveon.org worked overtime opposing the Bush administration.
Sometimes liberal grassroots activists would call the president "Hitler" and "Satan," and their venomous language often detoured into conspiratorial obsession. Many said that Vice President Dick Cheney started the Iraq war for the benefit of government contractor Halliburton. Some even claimed that Bush, Cheney, and the entire Republican cabal orchestrated 9/11 to justify a war that would increase their personal profits.
Despite the crazies and kooks, I thought the Left's critique of the corrupt nature of the Bush administration had merit and America needed to hear it. Predictably, Republican defenders of the ruling regime simply focused on the nuts in an attempt to discredit the Left and their message.
And now Democrats are doing the same thing.
While the dissident Left has curiously become mute under Obama, the dissident Right has turned up the volume, questioning a president whose agenda includes some of the most ambitious big government experiments in this nation's history. Targeting Americans who have been vocally uneasy with such drastic government expansion, last week a few of my left-leaning friends at the Charleston City Paper wrote scathing indictments of Sen. Jim DeMint and his "followers," declaring that "Jim DeMint blows harder than the bone-chilling winds across the Siberian tundra" and that his blustering has been effective in "scoring points with the yahoo contingent of the Republican Party." I suppose those "yahoos" would be conservatives like me.
DeMint has quickly become one of the loudest and most unwavering voices for the grassroots opposition to Obama. Liberals are behaving as if the Democrats' spending — whether for stimulus, national healthcare or anything else — is just some humdrum, better-late-than-never business-as-usual that no reasonable person would even question. Many of the same liberals who were once comfortable calling Bush a "warmonger" now scoff whenever anyone dares consider Obama's explicitly statist agenda "socialism."
If questioning Obama wasn't bad enough, the Left continues to portray Americans who organize "tea parties" and protest at town hall meetings as the wackiest fringe imaginable. And that a politician would not only encourage these peasants with pitchforks, but take sides with the angry mob makes that politician the worst sort of scum.
This, in a nutshell, is why liberals really despise Jim DeMint. Critics will continue to bash DeMint's social conservatism, question his sanity, or even make fun of his new book, but these are peripheral distractions designed to appeal to progressive prejudices and the liberals' sense of superiority. It's no different than Republicans who called antiwar protesters "un-American" as an attempt to obfuscate the actual issue by appealing to conservatives' sense of patriotic superiority.
The Left hates the mild-mannered DeMint because he is articulating what many Americans fear from the accumulation of unprecedented national debt and formerly unthinkable government takeovers of the private sector. That many on the dissident Right aren't articulate, sometimes make outrageous statements, and even subscribe to conspiracy theories doesn't discredit their limited government message anymore than Code Pink and 9/11 Truth discredited the antiwar message. By definition, populist movements are made up of real people, some of whom scribble on blogs or scream on street corners, and predictably say all sorts of things that would never pass muster at The New York Times. But the individual rants of these folks by no means negates the collective worries of what millions who fear Obama's agenda say in unison.
Yet, I still expect better from my colleagues who work in broadcast or print media. The crudest conservative talk hosts — men like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin — make a living calling people names, hanging up on listeners, and doing anything to avoid any debate that might challenge their own ideas. In trying to childishly marginalize DeMint and his grassroots supporters as "racist," "redneck" and "full moon loony," liberal pundits have proven themselves no better. This holds true for national columnists or even local "blowhards" who write for the City Paper.
It continues to amuse me that Democrats, who have long advertised themselves as the party of the working class, continue to spew venom at DeMint and the mostly blue-collar and middle-class folks who support him. New York Times bestselling author Tom Woods nailed this liberal hypocrisy beautifully when he wrote, "They're all tears and pity for average Americans, while at the same time demonizing people who think there might be something a teensy-weensy bit not-progressive about creating trillions of dollars and throwing it at the financial elite."
Woods is right. Whether or not you agree with Jim DeMint and his followers, reasonable people cannot dismiss valid fears about the increasingly statist and, yes, socialist direction of this country. And those who do, by calling such folks "rednecks," "racists," "blowhards" or worse can rightly expect the opposition to become louder, get angrier, and blow harder.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.