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March 26, 2010

Democrats Have Legitimate Gripes About GOP Rhetoric

Listed in: Other Domestic Policy, NJDC News, Opinions

Originally published in Politico’s Arena

By David A. Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council

Everybody in America should be concerned about what the latest GOP rhetoric is doing to our political and civic culture.

The deeply disturbing conservative circus that we saw on the Capitol grounds last weekend is just the latest chapter of the GOP and right-wing activists using some of the rawest, coarsest tactics imaginable to paint their opponents as the evil “other,” and it has to stop. Throughout the health care debate, POLITICO has documented rallies in which activists—standing directly in front of top GOP leaders—drew comparisons between health insurance reform and the Holocaust, and Obama/Hitler comparisons have become almost passe. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh can’t seem to go a day without hitting these horrific themes. And last weekend’s amped-up protests, egged-on by Republican members of Congress, just took things to a new level as racial epithets and homophobic slurs were hurled at House Democrats.

This is miserably bad for our society, and it’s bad politics for the GOP too as the public associates an unfortunate face with some of health care reform’s loudest detractors. It’s long past time for Republican and conservative leaders to step up to the plate and clearly denounce such comically over-the-line tactics; not only is it the right thing to do, but they’ll look good doing it. Will they lose supporters in the process? Perhaps, but I’d like to think that no serious actor in Washington wants a supporter who spits on members of Congress or loudly and repeatedly compares any sitting president to Hitler.