Terrorism, Republican-style

If someone dropped a bomb on the United States of America that killed 20,000 people, maimed millions more, and blanketed the nation with a toxic cloud of poison that nudged more than twenty-million American citizens closer to their graves, what would we call the droppers of this bomb? And, after experiencing such a horrific attack, what do you suppose the appropriate response should/would be?

The answer is simple: You’d call the bomb-droppers terrorists, and you’d expect the American people to rise up and destroy their attackers. That would, after all, be the patriotic thing to do.

Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical scenario. The Republican healthcare bill currently under consideration is just such a bomb, and the people proposing it—House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his band of sadistic cohorts—are the terrorists dropping it.

What to do? How to respond?

Those are the questions facing Americans as they celebrate “Independence” Day this year. When Mitch McConnell and company return to the Capitol next week, they will try yet again to detonate their latest weapon of mass destruction on the American public. It may yet fail (the test firings have not gone particularly well), but it is McConnell’s hope that if he just keeps jabbing the button enough times it may come unstuck. Then he would get to experience the ultimate thrill of terrorism—a public square overrun by panic, chaos, and death.

Then . . . supplication and obedience.

Few people want to say or believe it, but America is under attack from within. The modern GOP has become a rogue band of psychopaths bent on destroying what’s left of American democracy. Is there any other explanation for their seemingly insane behavior?

Maybe, but no one knows what it is. And they aren’t telling.

Terrorism is a loaded word, of course, but it’s the only word that applies. That’s the word we use to describe people who will use any means at their disposal to threaten the American way of life. Terrorists don’t care about democracy, citizenship, truth, character, reason, fairness, justice, or any of the other ideals upon which America was built. They care about one thing, and one thing only: exercising power and control. To what end? Even they don’t necessarily know. But one thing is certain: people who are motivated by the need to exercise power and control over others operate according to an entirely different set of assumptions and principles (if you can call them that). They are playing a different game, one with entirely different rules, and much of their strength comes from their willingness to defy long-established norms and traditions—the rules everyone else is supposed to live by.

And they are very dangerous. Why? Because they love their game, winning is everything to them, and they don’t care who they hurt or kill along the way, as long as history records them as the victor.

Just so we’re clear: terrorists don’t use bombs to attack the physical world; they use bombs to spread fear and destroy ideas they hate. In this case, the idea they want to obliterate is democracy itself. Republicans decided long ago that democracy—the will of the people—was an obstacle they had to overcome, an idea they had to destroy. Because if they didn’t destroy it, it would destroy them. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, income redistribution to the rich, education de-funding, environmental degradation, mass incarceration—all are tactics meant to undermine and erode the foundation of American society. Orwellian double-speak is their native tongue, but their message is becoming clearer by the day. “They” want you to know that “they” are coming for you, that there’s nowhere to hide, that their power extends beyond the reach of democratic institutions, laws and government.

“They” in this case isn’t a bunch of hooded jihadis, however; it’s a club of aging white guys with bad skin and worse suits who refuse to yield their grip on power. No, they’re not hacking people’s heads off with machetes—that would be barbaric. Instead, their weapons of choice are procedural gamesmanship and a willingness to lie so bigly and boldly that it’s hard to take them seriously. But the result is the same: death to one group of people at the hands of another. If you ask them what they are doing and why, they will insist that they are trying to save “us” from the other “them”—immigrants and ISIS and people who love humans with the same set of body parts. If you believe them, you have only yourself to blame for what happens next.

Overreaction? Hyperbole? Exaggeration?

Perhaps. But if by some chance Mitch McConnell and company ever succeed in executing their evil plan, do not think of it as just another piece of unfortunate legislation. Think of it as the day that America went to war with itself and the true carnage began.