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The Difference Between Name-Calling and Calling Out Yahoos Holding America Hostage

| October 13, 2013

The Yohos that try men's soul. (Everglades Foundation)

The Yohos that try men’s soul. (Everglades Foundation)

As a dog owner I was alarmed to discover that first-term Republican Congressman Ted Yoho, who hails from Gainesville, is a veterinarian. I had always assumed that veterinarians, with all those years of schooling, were pretty sharp folks. Yoho, though (say that three times quickly), was just honored by the Business Insider for uttering “The #1 Stupidest Comment on the Debt Ceiling.” What did Yoho say? “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke. I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.”

The United States of America going broke would stabilize world markets. Yikes. Having neither horses nor cattle, I was only somewhat relieved to learn that Yoho is a “large animal veterinarian.” It would be easy to dismiss Yoho as a fugitive from something Swiftian, except that he is among the cadre of Republican extremists in the House currently holding our nation hostage to their demands.

OK, enough name-calling. It seems I angered some people with my last column, in which I suggested that the Yohos of the House put me in mind of the Know-Nothing Party of the mid-19th century. Name-calling, I was reminded in one email, is childish and doesn’t advance understanding of the issues. Fair enough. But likening the narrow-minded nativist sentiments of that short-lived 19th century party to the ideals of this current group of ideological fringe-dwellers is really not that far off.
In defending his willingness to sink the global economy if he and his cohorts don’t get their way, one of Yoho’s colleagues, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, said, “All that really matters is what my district wants. And my district is overwhelmingly in favor of my position.” Translation: “Nothing is more important than my keeping my job.” Now, there’s a patriot for you.

Maybe I’m just showing my age, but I’ve always thought that the people we place in positions of authority—no matter the arena—should be held to a higher standard than that of the average guy. It’s why we come down harder on police officers when they turn out to be corrupt. It’s why we fire generals for sexual indiscretions that earn actors cover stories in People magazine. No matter how limited their world-view and how parochial their attitudes, once a Joe Blow becomes Congressman Yoho, a kind of transformation should take place.

Ted, you’re not running the local mosquito district. You are one of 535 legislators who are expected to conduct the nation’s business in a way that serves not only the immediate interests of your district, but also the welfare of 314 million Americans who are at the mercy of your decisions. We have a nearly $17 trillion economy. We have a million-and-a-half men and women under arms, some of them in harms way, all of them ready to defend our nation. We have 5,100 nuclear warheads, enough to wipe out human civilization on this planet. At the very least, educate yourself.

How rich with irony that my email correspondents were mad as hell at my rather tepid insult of their legislative heroes. Yes, people should be mad—but not at the likes of me. Rather, they should direct their anger at narrow-minded ideologues whose understanding of the world begins and ends at the beginning and the end of their Main Street.


In their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” (Basic Books, 2012), political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann offer an oft-quoted portrait of these right-wing extremists as “ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition…”

Facts simply don’t matter to these congressmen, emboldened as they are by their cheering sections back home. Elected officials should not be mere carbon copies of the people they represent—they should be people of substance who listen to and can respond to the needs of their districts, while understanding that their role in our government obligates them to learn and to educate themselves and their constituents.

And if rising above the fears and prejudices of the voters means they may lose an election, well, no one said that these were jobs for life. After all, there are still horses and cattle to attend to.

Steve Robinson moved to Flagler County after a 30-year career in New York and Atlanta in print, TV and the Web. Reach him by email here.

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25 Responses for “The Difference Between Name-Calling and Calling Out Yahoos Holding America Hostage”

  1. Flagler Resident says:

    I really don’t care for either party, but when I read articles like this it makes me think of both parties unwillingness to budge on the issues. How frustrating!

  2. A.S.F. says:

    …And now we’re being entertained by the outrage of Republicans “leaders” who decry the Democratic leadership’s refusal to agree to their “compromise” of raising the debt ceiling temporarily for 6 weeks…Which would bring us up to Thanksgiving. I am sure it’s just a coincidence that their “compromise” would put us right back in the same place just in time for the holidays…so they can whip up more outrage and point righteous fingers at others for the selfish and destructive acts they are committing against the economy and the American public. What hypocrites! And they are as transparent as glass to anyone who who has the willingness and the vision to look beyond their own nose. So, there; call that name-calling if you want–I think it’s more like calling a spade a spade.

  3. Geezer says:

    These same assholes at the helm of our United States send our kids to die in other lands.
    No wonder people have no faith in the government.
    Republicans, Democrats, same rotten apples, just different flavor prostitutes selling out to
    the highest bidders.

    I love my country, the land, the people – but not those who govern us.
    I have disdain for this corrupt government of ours.

    Big trouble is brewing and I think that all the city folks had better learn to hunt
    and live off the land. Collapse is a distinct possibility.
    Rich, poor – won’t matter anymore one day.
    This government isn’t “governing.”
    They’re working to sink us.

  4. dogman says:

    THEY ARE NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF YA-HOOS, AND ITS TIME TO CHANGE IT ………..

  5. Ohmy says:

    Well,

    One has to guess some things will never change:
    From the author:

    1. “Ideologically extreme ” (from book)
    2. “local mosquito district”
    3.”at the very least educate yourself”
    4.”divert their anger at narrow minded ideologues”

    About the only neutral comment is the one about being a $17T economy. However, not a word about the same $17T in debt.

    The article is, however, helpful. It explains why it is difficult to have a rationale discussion about serious matters with folks more interested in ideology than facts.

  6. Reaganomicon says:

    Thanks, FlaglerLive, for printing this article. I would like to point out something very quickly, which I think is pretty illustrative to readership in general. To preface, I don’t care about Yoho or what the latest political idiocy is, however this article is interesting.

    According to the article, Yoho allegedly said this:

    “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke. I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.”

    Which was presented by Mr. Robinson as this:

    “The United States of America going broke would stabilize world markets.”

    That’s not what I gathered from his quote, which as presented seems to imply that stability to world markets might be induced by us realizing that we’re going broke.

    Keep in mind that I don’t care enough about the situation to click on the actual link to the Business Insider article. What I do care about is the representation of truth in journalism, even in editorials or commentary, and even when representing the “other side” of the political spectrum

    What Mr. Robinson has done, at least as stated in the article, is to take an opponent’s position and misrepresent it, and then rail against that misrepresentation. This is called “attacking a straw man” and it’s a pretty common technique used in politics or other places because it makes the opponent generally look bad. The problem with straw men is that they can easily be knocked down, which it what I’m doing right now. Again, I want to stress that I don’t care about the issue, I care about how facts are represented in journalism, and your readership should know that at least as presented the quote and the response don’t really have anything to do with each other.

  7. tom jack says:

    Apparently facts don’t matter to you Mr. Robinson. The elected legislators were placed in office to represent their constituents point of view and that is exactly what congressman Yoho is doing. He is not there to represent the liberals like you, as that is what the congressmen elected from more liberal districts do. You Mr.Robinson are scared of the political shift taking place in this country by the common working man or woman who is sick and tired of paying the freight for everything from a welfare system that encourages generations of people to not work, to a democratic strategy to get more and more people dependent on government to cause democratic majorities in both houses of government and the Presidency forever. Apparently you Mr. Robinson are in favor of spending the money from future generation today and causing bankruptcy for generations ahead by sticking them with a federal deficit currently approaching 17 trillion. If rising above the fears and prejudices of democratic politicians mean they (the democrats) lose an election or control of the purse strings then so be it. Educate yourself Mr. Robinson, read the federalist papers and learn why there is a system of checks and balances. The current government shutdown is exactly what the founding fathers meant to have happen in order to cause compromise in the three branches of government. The position of your President of not negotiating is unprecedented in the history of this country and a position that is untenable over the long haul. He is the President NOT a dictator who gets whatever he wants, although I am sure that is what YOU would prefer.

  8. adanacmac says:

    Elected reps should be carbon copies of the constituents back home & not follow in footsteps of the ideologues of the party (aka obumercare).

    • A.S.F. says:

      @adanamac says–“Obumercare”, huh? But those poor thin-skinned Republicans are so upset by the name-calling! As for elected Reps being carbon copies of their constituents back home–Let us hope that is not always the case. Remember “Joe the Plumber” (John McCain’s best friend who really wasn’t a licensed plumber?) He was touted as the common man who represented the best of grassroots America during that election cycle. He very recently printed one of the most disgustingly racist remarks imaginable on his Blog. “Joe the Plumber” (in his vast wisdom) has decreed that “America needs a White Republican President.” What a Patriot–Let’s all follow his example! What we need in Congress are people truly capable of leading rather than pandering to special interests and the lowest common denominators just to get themselves elected.

  9. Sherry Epley says:

    Very, very well said, Steve! The “narrow minded” people in authority are the ones that are literally killing our nation. No person is an island, we live “together” on this revolving orb. One of the blessings of human nature is that each one of us is unique. We have differences that should be embraced and cultivated to evolve and create a better whole. . . the human species.

    Yet we some how continue to choose leaders that represent the “meaner” side of human nature. . . the side of selfish greed, bias, fear of those differences, being closed to new ideas, disrespect of the freedoms and rights of others. . . and on and on

    “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. . . all negative emotions are born of fear. Let us strive to be courageous in the winds of change and embrace our higher angels. . . Vote for those who represent the “positive” citizens of our community, and also assist in the “best” decisions for ALL citizens of our state, our nation and our planet. Let us choose to evolve towards heaven instead of hell.

  10. Dennis McDonald says:

    Reply to Steve Robinson retired 30 year Media Professional.

    Your second to the last paragraph applies to 90% of our elected officials starting with the current White House resident as his “district” is nation wide. I take exception to the final sentence in that paragraph when you say ” while understanding that their role in our government obligates them to learn and to educate themselves and their constituents.” that educate constituents is the socialist in you. Never did We elect them as Our Teachers !
    This is Communist “speak” that I hear way to often.
    Recently I heard Barbara Revels say that the reason she wanted to pay our tax $$ to a lobbyist to push for removing our right to Vote on where our economic subsidies will be used was the very same ” Fuzzy Thinking”. Her comment….if we could just explain things better then we [the Voters] would understand.
    This Commissioner like that other 90% of elected representatives only thumb their nose at the Voters and say “tough luck I’m here for Four Years.”
    TWO YEAR terms across the board would go a long way to help resolve this, as long as We can still Vote. Next stop for Commissioner Revels may be to push for Super Majority General Elections ! Do you think Barbara Revels could be re elected in 2014 after NOT allowing Us to Vote on the sales tax last year. How about that relic of a hospital/Sheriffs hqtrs. that We got skunked on for $1.23 Million all while violating the sunshine law. Her list of ” Voter re education ” is considerable !
    Barbara knows best for “Us” but only with OUR $$.

    Opinions from the New Palm Coast.
    Dennis McDonald

  11. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    So Congressman Yoho is wrong about the debt ceiling because the same people who ran around with their hair on fire talking about how catastrophic sequestration would be, says he is?

    Not raising the debt ceiling doesn’t equal an automatic default. The Treasury takes in more than enough money each and every month to cover existing debt service. Sure that won’t leave enough left over to fund all of the Governments programs, but isn’t it possible the “markets” may actually prefer we stop borrowing money to make payments on borrowed money?

  12. Ben Dover says:

    Did anyone see today`s paper Solving problems at an impasse in the Senate, what the34 hell are these two old cheese bags doing making decisions for anyone, these two should be in an old folks home deciding between pudding and jello , not screwing our country up with their feeble stubborn old minds
    They probably don t know what year it is or what they are arguing about with whats left of any semblance of a mind worried about their soiled adult diapers, All kidding aside these guys gotta be 80 or older , what in the world are they still doing making life and death decisions for millions of Americans. This is exactly why our country is so screwed up , you got Mitch and Harry sitting on the senate floor well beyond their expiration date, they need to put terms on how long these stubborn old fools can keep a senate seat , I say 8 yrs just like the president!!!!!

  13. wth says:

    You intentionally misrepresent his words to spread your hate for conservatives who only want to prevent your children and grandchildren from living in a nation that may have to file for bankruptcy over your party’s gang-rape of innocent hard working Americans.

    Who’s going to pay for all of this stupid ideology of yours that every American is not required to work for their food, their housing, their healthcare… Are you stupid enough to believe government creates a man’s incentive and creates jobs? Russia collapsed from that ideology. What’s next?

    You think money pops out of thin air. Or, that you can just take it from someone else’s pocket whenever you want it.

    • Ben Dover says:

      @with says , no I dont think money pops out ofthin air I think it pops into the wallets of greedy politicians who have been taking bribes from insurance and drug companies for so long they no longer think they are doing anything wrong , they think its bonuses they earned so much so they refuse to work unless Obamacare is appealed and their bribe money is put back in place, you know how many millions they lose in bribe money just for the pre existing loophole taken away, and believe me Obamacare erases a lot more of they bribes , he should investigate everyone of them seize their bank accounts see who`s living above their pay grades and throw their thieving butts in jail where they belong, Obama already gave them their concessions to the bill , now its helps none of the poor people, because Scott who made a phoney pledge to extend medicare for the first 3 yrs when it wouldn t cost the state a dime , but told his croneys behind closed doors to shoot it down , money is going into the wealthiest peoples pockets and by passing the middle and lower class people , the greed is disgusting, the Pope came out against it, but you keep wearing your rose colored glasses think they are saving money for your children and grandchildren, ;people are dying cause they can t afford their medication , hundreds of dollars for scripts that are a flat rate of 6 dollars in every ogther country in the world,, you tell me how charging people in the hospital 100 dollars for a cotton ball is going to save this country money , its raping the country wake up !!!!!

  14. Outsider says:

    Seriously Steve? The House of Representatives is comprised of, well, “representatives” to “represent” their constituencies back home. They are under no obligation to do the bidding of the opposing party; they are there to ensure the people who elected them have their views aired in D.C. It seems pretty straight forward to me.

  15. Liana G says:

    “What did Yoho say? “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke. I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.””

    Stability to the world markets? Not likely, instability in countries disrupt their markets. Just last week, a US vessel (pursuing oil exploration) was seized by Venezuela for illegally operating in the disputed waters between Guyana and Venezuela. Of course, because the territory in question is in dispute, and the Guyana government is a slave to the US despite loudly objecting to and refusing to bow to US demands to arrest the president of Suriname on bogus claims when he recently visited Guyana (the Surinamese president was elected in free and fair elections but is not a friend of the US), the Guyana government is now claiming it gave permission for said vessel to pursue oil exploration in the disputed territory. But, the territory in question does not rightfully belong to Guyana and is slated to be handed over to Venezuela in a specified date in the future that has been mandated by the UN, so Venezuela does have a say in what goes on.

    But, of course, the US continues it lawless rule breaking, contempt for sovereignty, and plundering of others resources, instead of living withing its means….

  16. Bunnell Resident says:

    Both sides are at fault and both sides have gone way past reason. Both sides of shatterered the cordial decency that once existed in Congress. Instead of name calling, why don’t they go back to addressing each other in Congress as “The gentleman from ….”. This Congress deserves to be thrown out by its ears. The real solution rests in the political center and that requires compromise from both sides. It also requires a recognition that limitless debt will destroy our country in not much more time than it would by defaulting on government obligations.. The real elephant in the room is the 17 trillion in debt that no one on the left wants to talk about. That in contrast to the cyanide pill the right wants us all to take. We can work together, we can balance a budget, and yes we can start to pay off this massive debt but it will not happen with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Ted Cruz, or John Boehner running things. It will take a Paul Ryan and perhaps a Senator Manchin or two to bring this government overspending into balance. I hope the extremist from both parties lose by wide margins in their next election and I hope they and their ideas are permanently discredited. Lastly, I hope the writer of this editorial can self examine his own motives before trashing only one side when both are equally at fault.

  17. JIM.R says:

    If we’re going to Understand the world, Steve, we can start by understanding that those million and a half men and women under arms are not defending the nation ,but are all around the world making it safe for free market capitalism and to plunder resources and control the oil of other nations.
    Our military could be cut in half and still be larger than all other countries combined. All the talk in DC about cutting the deficit and controlling spending is a joke and the joke is on those on the bottom of the economic pile, because that’s where the cuts will take place. The political theater going on making it look like it’s a battle between crazy Reps. and Dems on the side of the people is farce at it’s best. They will vote together to screw the people for the benefit of the rich and corporate interests. Just watch the keystone pipeline get approved and when the TPP comes up it will be fast tracked through congress with little debate.
    Social security and assistance to those unemployed and underemployed are the only place these cowards in power, including both parties and the President can look at to cut spending, not our bloated military or raising taxes on Wall street or the rich, just keep sticking it to the people struggling to get by, it almost looks like they want a revolution.

  18. Anita says:

    I would love to see #Geezer, #Ohmy and #adanacmac find me a quote by any Democratic member of the House or Senate insisting that postponing of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act accompany a Congressional Resolution to raise the debt ceiling. Any takers? Tell your GOPTP friends to pass a CLEAN CR so that Congress and President Obama can begin working on a balanced budget. That’s what we all want, isn’t it?

    • Geezer says:

      Anita:

      For your edification, I am a registered Democrat and voted for President Obama.
      Absolutely, I’m for Obamacare. But I wanted to see Medicare open up for all.

      But at the end of the day I don’t trust him or any other elected official.
      I don’t care what party they’re from.
      It’s obvious to me that this entire government, president and all, are in bed with
      the big banks, and big agriculture (e.g. Monsanto) and the military industrial complex..

      They are all full of crap. When we vote, we’re really voting for the “lesser evil” candidate.
      That sucks Anita. Our government isn’t governing….They’re in it for the money and power.
      They don’t give two hoots about us.

  19. Outsider says:

    Anita, Obama has had five years to work on the mythical balanced budget. Does “Simpson-Bowles” mean anything to you? The idea that passing a “clean” (ie. Obama gets all the wasteful spending he desires) CR is going to be immediately followed by negotiations to balance the budget is like believing The Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch on Halloween night and deliver presents to all the good little boys and girls. Come to think of it, I think I’ll go keep watch on that pumpkin patch before wasting my time waiting on Obama or the Dems to act fiscally responsible.

  20. orphan says:

    I am Sooo tired!
    Is it even possible to just start this country all over again?
    After all, we (our ancestors) did it once before, and I have enough love for my UNITED STATES OF AMERICA to listen to someone with a valid plan.
    I am Sooo tired!

  21. BW says:

    We are seeing a rise of extremism in politics in our country and it’s gaining control over these two parties every day. And the kicker to it all is that we keep adding to the power of these parties by often times simply rejecting candidates solely because they don’t belong to one of these parties.

    This trend is also a clear reason why voter turnout and it’s rapid decline over the the last 5 years is extremely important. Dismal voter turnout levels for our local elections opens the door for special interest groups and the “wings” of these parties to take over. No offense to either, but we will not be best served in our county by having local governments dominated and controlled by Tea Party or Ronald Reagan Assembly candidates. Low voter turnout does not protect our future locally. And we are at a point that we can no longer even afford the turnout numbers we are getting. We need better outreach that raises awareness and changes the face of local politics.

  22. A.S.F. says:

    The Republicans have just given House Speaker Boehner a standing ovation for a job well done–You must be kidding me! The Republican Party has, once again, demonstrated their bizarre penchant for publically congratulating themselves for narrowly averting a disaster of their own making. hey, guys, a simple apology would have done just fine!

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