—Sen. Jim DeMint
Yes, you've read it. We've all read it. South Carolina's junior senator is on the warpath against President Barack Obama and health-care reform. He's clearly scoring points with the yahoo contingent of the Republican Party. That's good for Jim DeMint and for yahoos, but does it do the GOP any good?
Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks took up this issue last week and reached a conclusion I am not sure I agree with: "These days, the South is a mirror of the nation, a state of mind. Geography has little to do with it."
Granted, there are yahoos — even full-blooded rednecks — in other parts of the nation. Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin might have just as easily come from Dorchester County. But they are the exceptions that prove my point.
As the Republican Party shrinks in numbers and demographics, what is left tends to be old, white, religious, and crazy as a June bug. And we have more of those in the South than anywhere else. That's why the South is the reddest region of the country and it's why Jim DeMint and other full-moon loonies of the GOP will keep throwing red meat to these true believers. He's got nothing to lose. As the Republican Party grows smaller and angrier, DeMint's stature within it will only rise.
I started thinking of this recently after a friend suggested I go to DeMint's blog at jimdemint.com/blog/2009/07 and see what his followers are saying to their hero in the "intimacy" of a blog. There they swear their love and fealty to DeMint; they pour out their anger and fears — mostly fears. White Southerners are nothing if not fearful. Fear has been driving their politics and culture for 200 years and generations of politicians have been happy to stoke their fears with incendiary rhetoric.
In the past, those fears have been about race and communism; today they are about socialism and health-care reform. White Southerners have always seen the world as hostile, full of dark and insidious forces, usually emanating from Washington, Moscow, or the United Nations.
DeMint's fans and followers describe current issues in nothing less than apocalyptic terms. One of them writes: Democrats "are ruining this fine country with their Socialist policies and government takeover tactics. I firmly believe that the Democratic Party is in the process of destroying The Constitution and stripping us of our rights."
And another: "I think Obama has one goal in mind and that is to destroy our civil and political system as it has existed and made this country the best that has ever existed. Obama will be happy when we are all subserviant [sic] to the totaliarian [sic] government as is the world and faith of his family."
Read this one and you can almost hear the black helicopters circling overhead: "OBAMA is POWER HUNGER[sic] ... It seems more clear every day that his plan for CHANGE is to ignore the U.S. Constitution and convert the office of president to DICTATOR ... By then he will have merged us with Canada and Mexico to form the North American Union which he can deliver to the United Nations."
Among the senator's correspondents there is much referencing of the Almighty and many wishes of "God bless you." There is no question among DeMint's supporters that god is on their side.
"I am praying for you, and that God would stop Obama's agenda sometime," wrote one inspired supporter. "Thank you for being His tool. I am proud to have you representing my state in Washington! ... God bless you!"
In response to Sen. DeMint's remark, President Obama said, "This is not about me." For some of the president's critics, it clearly is about him.
"At this point in the Obama Administration, I wouldn't believe Obama if he told me he was black..." one wrote. "I've never witness [sic] such decite [sic] as this person puts forth.... WHERE IS THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE...???????????????????? THAT IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST ISSUE, and everyone of you should be DEMANDING it be brought out in the Sun Light..."
Another wrote: "I think that Obama and company don't have a plan, they've got an agenda ... They and the rest of the Democrats (Socialists) think we're a lot of 'Clueless Serfs.' They're a lot of hypocrites. And Obama (I refuse to call him President) is a serial liar to boot!!!"
Go to DeMint's blog and read for yourself what the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower sounds like in the 21st century. This is not the voice of reason or the voice of compassion. But it is the voice of President Obama's "loyal opposition" in governing this country.
See Will Moredock's blog at charlestoncitypaper.com/blogs/thegoodfight.