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Frank Rich: Tea Party Extremism and Rage Will Only Grow After Election Day

In today's column, Frank Rich lists actual and attempted acts of violence that seem to have been inspired by wingnut/tea party rage, including a planned attack on a charitable group known as the Tides Foundation, a frequent Glenn Beck target, and the stabbing of a Muslim cabdriver just as anger at the downtown Manhattan Islamic cultural center grew. The column is entitled "The Rage Won't End on Election Day"; Rich writes: Don't expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day -- no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they'll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow. The only development that can change this equation is a decisive rescue from our prolonged economic crisis. Not for the first time in history -- and not just American history -- fear itself is at the root of a rabid outbreak of populist rage against government, minorities and conspiratorial "elites." First of all, if tea party candidates triumph, they'll be emboldened and the anger and bitterness will grow. The anger and bitterness will grow because that's the way of the rage junkies of the right -- angry and bitter in defeat, angry and bitter in victory. They scoured the landscape looking for evil liberals and Democrats to hate (Ward Churchill! Eason Jordan!) when the GOP controlled the entre government -- why do we think they'll mellow out if they win one or both houses of Congress? Rage is the point -- they have a need to persuade themselves that the rage is about something sunstantive, like (at this moment) "constitutionalism," but the rage is the point. The rage will need to be sustained by the propagandists, because there'll be a presidential election to win in 2012. I don't know what happens then. I know, as I've said, that teabaggers and other Republicans aren't going to be able to get much of anything signed into law, because what they'll propose is so extreme that even this accommodationist president will veto it -- so they'll use those vetoes as a way to sustain teabag voter rage and frustration until the presidential election. At that point, who knows? I think we'll be in a lost economic decade, and I'm sure the wingnut policies that will then be able to be enacted without impediment won't improve matters, except for the rich. So maybe the rage can just sustain itself forever, as wingnut pols make life worse for ordinary citizens while blaming that standard-of-living decline on increasingly powerless Democrats and liberals, as well as any group of Others -- Muslims, Mexicans, whoever -- seem like convenient targets.