Can we please regain our sense of community?

Bob Herbert unloads on The Republican Party for savaging America’s sense of community and mutual concern:

For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich…

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party — think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants — tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country.

Herbert offers many examples, including the following. I was beyond angry as I watched this video:

A group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town.”

Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot.”

If a healthy-bodied adult begs you on the street for money, I can understand why some might scream “hell, no!” It’s selfish and rude and arrogant, but it’s an intellectually honest response for a free-marketeering true believer… though less so with unemployment running 10% (more realistically 20%, when you add in people who’ve dropped out of the work force or can find only part-time, low-wage work). But to spew vile at a man sickened by a disease like Parkinson’s for exercising his constitutional right to express his opinion that America needs a national healthcare plan is inhuman. And this was a crowd of people, not just one jerk, screaming at a sick man sitting quietly on the ground. And it’s standard operating procedure for followers of Rush Limbaugh, who himself mocked Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease.

It’s heartbreaking to watch my fellow Americans attacking other Americans for being sick and advocating better healthcare for all Americans.

Posted by James on Tuesday, March 23, 2010