Instead of merely opposing the legislation, however, Bachmann compared Washington, D.C. to “enemy lines” and urged her supporters to become “armed and dangerous” and fight a “revolution” against cap and trade legislation:I had previously asked the voters of MN to tell Bachmann that they would not be driven into an Age of Unreason. I ask again: please remove this anti-democratic, anti-reality extremist from Congress. This is beyond unacceptable.BACHMANN: And really now in Washington, I’m a foreign correspondent in enemy lines. And I try to keep everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington. […]
I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.
Bachmann's conception of democracy seems to be that we hold an election and either her party wins or it's time to go to war.
Now Bachman may have been speaking figuratively. But that's well beside the point: this sort of rhetoric is dangerous. It legitimizes the violent, extremists fantasies that we already know are seething in AM radio world.
When Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people, he believed he was engaging in a little Jeffersonian revolution (click here to see the shirt he was wearing when arrested) against "nefarious activities" the last time a Democrat was president. Back then, too, prominent figures within the conservative movement engaged in this sort of legitimizing rhetoric, as Gary Wills noted in Reagan's America
Not orderly rule but violent overthrow is the fantasy haunting the minds of some of Reagan's heirs. Rush Limbaugh, expressing sympathy for the militias said: "The second violent American revolution is just about - I got my fingers about a fourth of an inch apart - is just about that far away. Because these people are sick and tired of a bunch of beuracrats in Washington driving into town and telling them what they can and can't do." Representative John Boehler of Ohio called OSHA regulators the "Gestapo of the Federal Government."And, you know, it doesn't quite help that Fox News' newest and brightest star is busy promoting on a daily basis the same sort of conspiratorial beliefs that informed McVeigh's extremist world view.
It may be objected that this is "just rhetoric" - an odd thing for any Reaganite to say. It was his rhetoric about an Evil Empire that helped destroy one system. Why should we take any less seriously his rhetoric about the evils of our government? Oliver North did not. The Freemen of Montana do not. The airwaves are full of citizens' vituperation of the representatives they have themselves chosen. Though Reagan was to courtly and well mannered to use the caustic insults orchestrated on talk radio, he made the world safe for Rush Limbaugh. And Limbaugh, down through the ranks of his even less contained fellows (like Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy), made the world safe for the militias, the Freemen, the bombers of the Federal building in Oklahoma City. If the government was the enemy, these people would fight it, with guns if necessary; and feel that they worked under the aegis of the man who most effectively taught them that government is the enemy.
I think this would be an opportune time to remind that Dave Neiwert's new book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right will be coming out soon.