“Teabaggers”, “Birthers” and other racists.

Demonstrators at this past weekend’s rally at the U.S. Capitol carried a powerful message. They toted signs with photos of President Obama wearing a Hitleresque moustache. There were signs that called Obama a socialist, a Marxist and even a Nazi. There were signs calling him a “Muslim Kenyan” and an “African Lyin’.” There were signs stating “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy” and “We came unarmed (this time).” The only things they were lacking were torches and pitchforks.

These messages were not just tasteless and threatening. They were revealing. They exposed those who carried them as a rabble of misinformed racists who are angry and aren’t going to take it anymore. But they can’t even say what “it” is. All they seem to know is that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi are the problem.

Could it be that these people simply can’t accept an African-American and a woman as our nation’s leaders?

Of course, Republicans dismiss any such claims. They’re fond of pointing to the demonstrations against President Bush. However, there’s a significant difference. During the Bush administration, political opponents attacked his policies. During the Obama administration, the opponents seem to want to attack Obama. And not just with words. Why else would the demonstrators feel it necessary to threaten violence? Why else would they feel the need to bring guns to demonstrations?

If it were economic policy that concerned these people, they would be protesting against Bush for overseeing the first real decline in median household income in recent history. If the issue was spending, these people would have brought out the torches and pitchforks during the Reagan years or as the result of the $2 trillion war in Iraq. If it were the housing crisis and resulting financial meltdown that concerned them, they would be looking to lynch Bush, Greenspan and Henry Paulson. And if rationed health care was the problem, they would be surrounding the headquarters of United Health Group, Cigna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

No, these people are not angry about policy. They believe their country is being taken away by a black man and a powerful woman. They’ve been fuming for many years as they’ve seen African, Asian and Latino immigrants arrive in large numbers. They’ve been told that their “values” and religions are under attack. They’ve been told that President Obama hates white people. They’re easily manipulated by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and organizations such as Fox News Network and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. They’re encouraged by elected officials like Dick Cheney, Sen. DeMint, Rep. Boehner and Rep. Cantor. Worse yet, they’re given publicity and credibility by a media too lazy or afraid to expose them for what they really are.