Fear and the Smart Girls
The Smart Girls Summit is not a Republican gathering. It's decidedly Tea Party. And in a movement defined primarily by angry men, these women don't seem to fit.
Sure, there's anger from the speakers, plenty of it. But among the audience the prevailing emotion seems to be straight-up fear. At the "Identifying Voter Fraud" session there was fear that "the left" will steal the election. And not just ballot-box stuffing. There was fear that Democrats will use intimidation and actual violence against conservatives at the polls.
Literal illustrations of the horror included a mock movie poster titled "Dawn of the Democrats," suggesting we'd set about registering dead people to vote. Both alliterative and hilarious.
But most of the fear wasn't jokey at all. It was clear these women took it home with them and into their daily lives. One woman was scared to give her full name to an NPR reporter who interviewed her. She felt unprepared to defend her self and her house if someone came after her after hearing her on the radio. She'd stopped talking to her brother because of political differences.
But she said the Tea Party movement was worth it. She was afraid for her son's future and she believed this would help.
The Tea Party movement isn't about Republicans. These women couldn't be farther from Roy Blunt, or John Boehner, or Mitch McConnell. They're genuinely fearful that Democrats will inflict violence on them and their children. Maybe it's all the Mama Grizzly imagery, the rifle scope optics used to "target" political opponents. Maybe it's being told by Sarah Palin to "reload," or by Michele Bachmann to be "armed and dangerous." Maybe the rhetoric has spilled over into reality for some of the women at the Smart Girls Summit today.
How sad. And scary.
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