In my column two weeks ago, I led off with a very simple statement of fact:
The 21st century opened with a handful of Supreme Court puppets appointing George W. Bush president after he lost the popular vote...
You can quibble with my use of "puppets," of course, and you can make an argument (which I don't agree with) that Bush deserved to be appointed president despite losing the popular vote because he (supposedly) won the Electoral College vote -- but it is a verifiable fact that George W. Bush lost the national popular vote, and it is a verifiable fact that after losing the national popular vote the Supreme Court appointed him president.
This is why I'm really perplexed that I continue to receive a steady stream of email from right-wing readers of my column who insist that it's a liberal conspiracy theory to state this verifiable fact. I'm not kidding -- I'm not just getting one or two emails, I have been getting scores of emails from people who are adamant that it's inaccurate, untruthful and treasonous to say Bush lost the popular vote. And what makes the screeds particularly strange is that the emailers do not offer an alternate theory -- say, a theory insisting the election was miscounted. No, there are actually people in the United States who lived through the 2000 election who seriously believe that Bush simply won the popular vote as it stands, that everyone obviously knows that supposed self-evident truism, and that anyone who says otherwise is crazy.
On top of this, I've also gotten a lot of email from people insisting that because the U.S. Senate's undemocratic structure is in the U.S. Constitution, it means it isn't undemocratic. This is just straight-up bizarre. The Constitution is pretty clearly undemocratic in creating a Senate that gives the same representation to Wyoming's 500,000 people as it does to the millions of people who live in California. And this says nothing of a filibuster that lets an already undemocratic institution block something with less than a majority of that same institution's votes.
Obviously, if you are someone who gets angry at those who point out the verifiable fact that Bush lost the 2000 popular vote or that the U.S. Senate is undemocratic, you require a straightjacket and a team of physicians working exclusively on you 24 hours a day seven days a week. The problem is, our nation doesn't have enough resources to accommodate that need for the thousands, and perhaps millions, of right-wingers who have been driven to this state of psychopathy.
I'm not sure if there is a lesson in this, other than that we're way beyond laughing at people who believe reality has a liberal bias. These people aren't funny -- they are scary, and they should be seen as a threat that needs to be confronted.
What's going on here is pretty simple: the 2008 election clearly drove a certain segment of the population certifiably insane -- and I'm fairly sure the wave of emails I've gotten is only one ripple in the bigger storm of zombie Teabagger-ism we're seeing sweep across the country. The fact is, I've been writing for a long time now -- and thus getting hate mail for a long time -- and I've never seen the kind of virulence, bile and sheer know-nothingness on such a consistent basis.
If I had to guess, I'd say this storm represents a segment of the population that is overwhelmingly conservative, overwhelmingly white, and overwhelmingly populated with people who can't sleep at night knowing an African American Democrat is in the White House. The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson agrees:
When future historians look back at this passage in our nation's history, I suspect they'll conclude that this Obama-isn't-American nuttiness refracted the insecurities and, in some cases, the hatred that a portion of conservative white America felt about having a black president and about the transformation of what many thought of as their white nation into a genuinely multiracial republic.
This political reality has very obviously driven them to pure batshit lunacy -- the kind that turns people into frothing balls of rage whenever anyone states inarguable facts that offends or contradicts the conservative delusion.
The good news is that these folks and their political leadership (ie. Limbaugh, Gingrich, Steele, etc.) are helping marginalize themselves for the long haul. Their extremism has become so, well, extreme that the more they open their mouths, the more deranged they look to everyone else.
The bad news is that these folks are so fucking crazy that I have no doubt they will stop at absolutely nothing to prevent any kind of policy change -- however small -- from passing into law. In that way, what we're seeing is not the emergence of an innocuous Idiocracy. We're seeing the political equivalent of the zombies in World War Z -- these mindless automatons are singularly focused on eating the body politic, cannot be reasoned with and will not be deterred. As I said, they are scary.
For my part, I've put up a first line of defense -- an automated email response that goes out to anyone emailing me at my public address. I'm attaching it here -- the message is fairly straightforward and gives me peace of mind that I've at least done my part to tell the sick fucks out there to eat shit.
*** THIS IS AN AUTOMATED RESPONSE ***
Thanks for your note -- I very much appreciate you taking the time to write me. If you are offering feedback on a column of mine -- whether negative or positive -- I encourage you to send a letter to the editor of the newspaper you read it in expressing your views.
While you can rest assured that I read my email, I regret that because of volume I cannot respond to each email individually. I apologize for that, but please don't take it personally. If I spent all my time replying individually to each and every email I received, I'd have to be chained to my computer and would never be able to see my family.
If you've written me a constructive email, let me just again say THANK YOU -- as long as feedback/criticism is constructive, it is extremely valuable to me and makes me a better writer/journalist.
If you are angry about my inability to respond to every single email I receive and actually believe you should take precedent over my family, then I suggest seeking help for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
If you have sent me an email pretending that George W. Bush won the 2000 popular vote, asserting that the U.S. Senate is 100 percent democratic, claiming that the richest 1 percent aren't actually rich, stating that thousands of Americans do not die every year for lack of health insurance, denying that the Holocaust happened, swearing that taxpayers weren't forced to hand over trillions to Wall Street executives, or otherwise insisting that other verifiable facts aren't true, rest assured I have deleted your email and added you to a spam list -- and may I suggest that you seek immediate medical attention for psychopathy.
Likewise, if you have just sent me angry or deranged hate mail absent any substantive/constructive facts, check the following two links and figure out which kind of pathetic freak you are:
Thanks for the note -- and keep up the good fight.
Rock the boat,