Is the Republican Party trying to forment an armed rebellion against the government? I am forced to ask this question because of the fundraising e-mail I received today from the Republican National Committee.

The e-mail from RNC press secretary Kirsten Kukowski begins:

In just ONE week, under the tyrannical leadership of President Obama and the Democrats:

  • Obama abused his power by issuing an executive order on immigration.
  • The Obama Administration lied about ObamaCare enrollment numbers.
  • Mary Landrieu failed to get the Keystone Pipeline passed through the Senate.

All this shows how much things can change in just one week — and how important it is that we win the final races of the 2014 election next week.

I’m not going to argue this list, though I have no idea how the third — the Republicans failing a cloture vote on Landrieu’s Keystone XL bill — is “tyrany.”

What concerns me is the rhetoric — “tyrannical leadership.” There has always been demonization of political opponents in American history — even George Washington was denounced as a monarchal tyrant during his presidency, and there’s an argument to be made that a hostile press drove him from office and was the reason he didn’t run for a third term — yet the character of this feels different. There have been fringe voices arguing for years that Obama is a tyrant, but the important thing is that they were fringe voices. Then, a few days ago, Senator Ted Cruz compared Obama to the Roman senator Catiline and said he was “openly desirous to destroy the Constitution and this Republic.” Now, the RNC is pushing the idea that Obama is “tyrannical leadership.”

They are using the rhetoric to raise money. I get that. The RNC’s donor base is implaccably hostile toward the President. Yet, by their rhetoric, the RNC is also normalizing the idea that Obama is a tyrant. That can’t be by accident; the formative American national myth is that the colonies became a nation by rebelling and throwing off a tyrannical King. If the RNC keeps pushing the idea that Obama is a tyrant, then aren’t they normalizing the idea so that the unthinkable — removal of a tyrant through extra-legal means — becomes thinkable?

It’s worrying.

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