During Wednesday’s Republican debate (which you can see here), there was a moment that I knew would make headlines. Texas Governor, Rick Perry, was asked if he “had trouble sleeping at night” in regards to his state leading the nation in executing its inmates and the possibility that some of them might have been innocent. In my opinion, neither the question nor the answer were all that “outrageous”, but some could argue that the reaction from the crowd was. When Brian Williams stated that Rick Perry had overseen more executions than any other governor in modern times, the crowd not only applauded, they whistled and cheered. I’ve included a video below from The Young Turks, not because I agree with them, but so I can easily share some of what the Left have been saying about this excerpt from the debate.
So let’s go back to the title of this piece: Are Republicans Bloodthirsty? Cenk Uyger from the Young Turks seems to think so. (the man in the video above) As does Laura Clawson from the DailyKos. Judging by the comments on their respective sites and many tweets I’ve seen, it would seem that several of our citizens do too. And in the interest of discussing things objectively, I have to say that the over the top applause was cause for even me to pause, and I generally “like” Rick Perry.
So, are Republicans bloodthirsty? As with all questions like this, you would have to say that some of them probably are. Any time you gather more than 20 people into one room, your odds of having some bad apples present start to look pretty good. Now, with that said, I would like to proffer some perspective that some people might not have thought about.
First and foremost, Republicans have been America’s punching bag for most of the last decade. It’s gotten to the point that if you vote for anyone but a Democrat, you are labeled as any combination of the following:
4. Hate the poor.
5. Want to kill Muslims.
6. Anti semitic.
7. Don’t believe in science.
8. Son of bitch.
9. Won’t let women control their health.
10. You can go to hell.
11. And as a bonus…
Republican voters were accused of having blood on their hands for the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords BEFORE her attacker was even correctly identified. It ultimately turned out that the assailant was mentally disturbed, and Sarah Palin was the furthest thing from the cause of this violence. Strangely, the accusations were deafening, but the apologies for such false charges were barely a whimper. To this day, there are people who believe that “Right Wing rhetoric” was the cause of Mrs. Giffords shooting.
What’s crazy is that the entire country has been in on it. Number ten? That was Maxine Waters, a sitting Congresswoman from California. She wields a lot of influence in this country, and she said that a voting bloc of citizens can not only “go to hell”, but she’ll help them get there. While we’re talking about politicians, number eight was said by a man who was introducing the President of the United States of America, and no one batted an eye. Excuse me? If someone from the Chamber of Commerce had introduced George Bush in 2006 and called Democrats “sons of bitches”, I am pretty sure that would have been big news.
But that’s just politics, and let’s be honest, not everyone pays attention to politics. So with that in mind, it’s of great importance to note that every single facet of our culture paints conservatives as villains.
How many Grammy winning artists have told impressionable youths how evil Republicans are? How many award winning actors have denounced the values of middle America? And how many times have they been cheered for doing it? How long has Hollywood’s running joke been that people in the South as a whole are “stupid”. On the subject of Hollywood, how many plots have featured conservatives as villains? How many time have Christians been attacked, while every other religion has received a “pass”? And how many times have the majority of “news” outlets denigrated Republican politicians while trying to sweep the missteps of Democrats under the rug?
It is in this frame of mind (I believe) that many conservatives found themselves cheering for a candidate who looked an NBC reporter in the eye and answered a loaded question without flinching. Most Republicans stumble or backpedal when handling loaded or “gotcha” questions. Not Rick Perry. Republicans like him and Chris Christie are the type of men that can stare the devil in the eye and say “boo”. Many conservative have been waiting for a candidate that won’t take a news anchor’s abuse. I would like to believe it is this quality that Republicans were cheering during the clip and not the execution of fellow citizens.
Unfortunately, the paragraph above cannot explain the applause at the start of the question. (people applauded the mere statement that Texas has executed more inmates than any other state) That, I’m afraid, requires a great deal more analysis. So let’s get started…
Remember the bad apples I mentioned? I’m sorry, but some people probably really are bloodthirsty. I would be a liar and deserving of no credibility if I sat here and denied it. However… I believe those people are in the minority. (vastly in the minority)
So what else could be at play? Going back to the point of Republicans being America’s punching bag, I think some people cheered to hear that question, because they anticipated Perry’s answer to it. I think many of them felt that Brian Williams had shaken the cage of the “wrong Republican”, and they were glad to see the exchange.
There’s also the matter of “support”. Watch the video again. At 22 seconds, you can tell that only a small number of people clapped. At the 23rd second, you can tell that other people joined in the clapping in a manner that denotes support. You can tell that it started with a small number of people engaged in a short burst of clapping. I believe that as a sign of solidarity, other people clapped to show support for fellow conservatives and basically “wave the flag”. Again, this goes back to the idea that conservatives have been told for most of a decade that they should be ashamed of themselves. I think that what you will see in the next year is a growing sign of this solidarity. And to be honest, the more abuse “Liberal” media heaps on conservatives, the more fuel you will see poured onto this “fire”.
Speaking of when the clapping started, watch the video again. At about the 20 second mark, Perry goes from looking at the podium to staring Brian Williams in the eye. It you watch and listen, the applause almost seems a result of the afore mentioned anticipation that people had for Perry to confront Williams. I really think this was a matter of conservatives feeling like they finally had someone to effectively champion their message. From my perspective, the cheering was more for support of Rick Perry and their fellow party members than it was for the lust of blood.
But what about optics? I have to admit it looks pretty bad. It wasn’t until I wrote this post and rewatched the video several times that I started to see all of the elements at play. It really does come off that Republicans (in that crowd, anyway) were just hungry for people’s blood. I can see how, at a casual glance, people could think that. But… I think the days of casually analyzing things are behind us. There’s no excuse anymore. Thanks to YouTube and the internet in general, you can take time (like I have) to analyze a video and see what is really going on. Maybe back in 1992, when this option didn’t exist, you would just have to go with your gut. But that’s not the world we live in. Everything has an instant replay now, including political debates. I suggest we start using it.
So… Are Republicans bloodthirsty? I think you would have to say that some of them could be, but most of them are not. Let us know what you think in the comments below. This is your election for your president of your country. I encourage communication for this election cycle and beyond.