Friday, April 17, 2009

Sour Grapes and Sedition by Ron Powell

On April 15th, Tax Day, conservatives held "tea parties" all over the country, to protest against taxes, government spending and the growing federal deficit. The affair was billed by various conservative advocacy groups and think tanks as the biggest moment in what has become a growing movement.
By most accounts it amounted to little more than a tempest in a teapot.

Since the election and inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States, Conservative Republicans have become increasingly more confused , apparently suffering from cognitive dissonance, the uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. Their attitudes and beliefs regarding patriotism, and the awareness of behavior that is contrary to those beliefs and attitudes are causing the dissonance which normally occurs when a person perceives a logical inconsistency among his or her thoughts and actions.

This happens when one idea implies the opposite of another. Awareness of the contradiction can cause anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states. Love of one’s country and disdain or hatred of its newly elected black president are causing internal psychological conflicts for many individuals and ideological identity conflicts for the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

Like the fox in the fable, many conservatives and Republicans are expressing a "sour grapes" attitude regarding their failed attempt to win the presidency and control of the executive branch. The “tea parties” have been characterized as nothing more than an unsportsmanlike or ungracious expression of anger or frustration at having failed to defeat the black Democratic candidate. In short, they are behaving like a bunch of sore losers. The efforts to instill or rejuvenate fear of a black man in a position of power and authority, the attempts to vilify and/or demonize the President and his plans or policies are clear evidence of this.

Further evidence of the ‘sore loser’ mentality being adopted and even encouraged by conservative Republicans is the obstructionist posture that congressional and gubernatorial Republicans have taken. Some have expressed their wish to see the president fail. Others have refused to help him, and hence the country, succeed. Some have gone so far as to call for secession from the union in language which borders on sedition or which is at the very least seditious in nature.

Sedition is the legal term which refers to covert conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of the constitution and incitement of discontent or Resistance to lawful authority. It may also include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence, against the law, and or legitimate enforcement of the law. Seditious words in writing are deemed seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition. Put simply, sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power.

In 1940, the anti-sedition or Smith Act was passed. The Act made it a crime to advocate or teach the desirability of overthrowing the United States Government, or to be a member of any organization which does the same. Although unused since at least 1961, the Smith Act remains US law.

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