For Republicans, the Sky is Falling - Again?
Here We Go
Though it goes against my better judgment, I am going to wade into the political mud with this post. With the election close at hand, I look, half aghast and half amused the ramblings and pronouncements of the Republican Party and conservatives in general. There is a refrain that happens every time there is a Democrat in office. They are always trying to “Take Back” or “Restore” something.
That something being these United States of America.
If you don’t believe me, Google it and see all the websites devoted to “Taking Back and Restoring America.” There is nothing that can rally the troops more than when the other side is in charge. This seems to be one of the main reasons that the presidency goes back and forth between the two parties. Most of the time, a sitting president wins re-election but then after eight years in office, the people are ready for a change and the other side is really ready. Reagan/Bush managed to last 12 years before the change and Carter only 4 but in all cases, there seems to be a “where’re fed-up, let’s change sides” mentality that takes effect. Weather this flipping from one party to another is good, bad or doesn't really matter would be a good topic for debate but that is for another time.
Whenever the Democrats are in power, the Republicans feel the need to “take back” America.
Take My Country, Please . . .
But I am getting a bit off subject; the purpose for this hub is to rant about the “doom and gloom” scenario that is the constant refrain of the ones that are out of power. I level my complaint specifically at the Republicans. It is true that both parties lament their demise (at any particular moment in time) and want to regain political control but I am mostly concerned with the tone that is taken when the conservatives are out of power. For some reason, and I wish I could say what that reason was, whenever the Democrats are in power, the Republicans feel the need to “take back” America.
To that I say . . . take it back from what – from whom?
I don’t like the tone of this phrasing and other similar pronouncements because of what it suggests. Apparently, Democrats are not real Americans. If you have to take something back, that would suggest that the takers (in this case, the Democrats) are not the same as you. They must not be American citizens. They must not have grow up in this country. They were not raised by their American parents. They must not have had any ancestors who fought in our countries wars. They did not come from small towns or rural America or go to public schools. They do not go to church on Sunday. They do not work hard and try and raise their children to be good citizens. Most of all, they are not patriotic (I could go on and list every possible scenario of being American – but you get my point). Instead, according to conservative movement, the Democrats (or liberals) want to destroy America and they don’t share real American values. Democrats may think or say some of the same things about their Republican rivals but somehow, it doesn’t seem to come across in quite the same manner.
There Goes the Neighborhood!
If a Democrat is elected president, has the country been given away? If we need to take it back, then we must have given it away – right? I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans. I find both of the parties problematic in many ways (and sometimes I have to hold my nose when I vote) but I have never given away my country and never felt the need to take it back. I encountered this phenomenon, first hand, when I heard Newt Gingrich give a speech to a crowd that I would characterize as conservative and friendly to him. He stated over and over again the need to take back the country and restore America . . . from them.
This was during the Clinton administration. For my part, I never voted for Clinton and don’t think that much of him to this day. I will say, however, that, even with the scandals, his presidency will probably go down in history as a successful one.
As I listened to the Gingrich speech, all I could think about was the nerve of this guy. Who is he, a man with extensive personal and political baggage of his own, to talk about taking back anything. That was my first close-up encounter of this but it would not be my last. The “take-back” movement has returned (with a vengeance) with the election of the current president. I think it is safe to say that the vitriol is much worse this time around. Some might blame the internet for the level of noise that is generated but I believe it would have happened regardless. There are dirty tricks and bad players on both sides of the political aisle but I get the sense the conservative movement has won the "battle of mean.".
I find both of these groups equally annoying, good at playing the victim card and often acting in the opposite of their pronouncements.
The Christan Party of Conservative Tea
Who leads the charge in this war of meanness? I am sad to say that it is the Conservative Christian and the Tea Party movements. I don’t really like making these broad-swath generalities about any group and I am sure that there are those who consider themselves part of these movements who do not fall into the stereotypes that I am about to lay-out but there does seem to be something going on here. It should also be noted that, no matter what their beliefs, I would never consider those conservatives to be un-American, un-Patriotic or outsiders of any kind. I also do not feel that I have to “take back” anything from them even if I disagree with their positions or ideas.
Having said that, I find both of these groups equally annoying, good at playing the victim card and often acting in the opposite of their pronouncements. The Conservative Christians don’t seem to follow the golden rule very often or turn the other cheek much either. They love to make the claim that they are under attack from all segments of society, when in fact, they often seem to be the attackers. Then there is the Tea Party. When this movement started, there was a great deal of interest from people of all political stripes. The idea of having more of a say in what the government does, rediscovering the constitution and generally being more engaged in a sort of popular civics is a powerful one. Who wouldn't be interested in that! Unfortunately, the true identity of the Tea Party soon came to the surface. It turned out to be just another conservative movement and my guess is that the there is much overlap between those calling themselves Christian Conservatives and those that affiliate themselves with the Tea Party. I know that there are a lot of smart, well-educated people in the Tea Party movement, yet they seem to see American history through rose-colored glasses. If you are a history buff, then you know that the version of America they are trying to re-invent never really existed.
Just a few days after the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history, things don’t really look so bad.
Things are Soooo Bad!
I also hear a lot of talk about how bad it is, how some are “not going to take it anymore,” about the coming revolution and the day of reckoning. But just a few days after the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history, things don’t really look so bad. 75 years after the 1937 great recession (the second blow of the great depression) you might say that things could be worse. A mere 45 years after American cities burned during the civil rights and Vietnam War era riots, I must ask, a revolution?
Not Your Father's America
American history is full of violence and struggle, strife and conflict: religious, racial, ethnic and economic. It is a story of political unrest, disenfranchisement, corruption and greed. It is also a story of amazing sacrifices and great accomplishments. We are a country of ideals. We don’t often (nor have we ever) lived up to all of those ideals very well but we have committed them to paper. By that very deed we have started down a road toward meeting those ideals. There is a great debate in this land. It started even before the American Revolution and it continues to this day. It is about how to live and govern; the role of citizens and the role of government. This debate will go on forever because America is an experiment in freedom and a work in progress. Despite what you might hear from the “constitutionalists” the founding fathers left a lot of wiggle room in that guiding document. It might also be worth noting that the United States Constitution is one big compromise and an exercise in pragmatism. I wish those polarizing forces that rule today, both the right and left, could see that and take a lesson from it.
Regarding the president, I am not afraid to admit that I like him. He is a good man: driven, successful, a good husband and father and hardworking. He has a keen personality and seems to be the closest thing we have had to a regular guy in the white house since Harry Truman (and Gerald Ford). At the same time he is many things that we have never had in a President. He is black and from a mixed race marriage. His father was foreign born and was estranged to him. His mother seemed to exercise, at the very least, some amount of youthful indiscretion. He spent time in Indonesia with a step-father and more time with very-grounded, mid-western-bred grandparents.
As president, he inherited a financial mess that has not been seen since the great depression. As to the handling of that mess, well, the jury is still out on that. But it troubles me a great deal when I hear people showing disdain and disrespect for the president. You can disagree with him and dislike him but still act civil toward him. You can exercise your American right to support his opponents and vote against him, but you do not have to villainize him. It pains me a great deal to see what appears to be a nation of loud-mouthed fools, spewing nonsense, whether it be on talk radio or the all over the Internet. I wish it was different. I wish there was an agreement to disagree but with a civil tone. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that might be wishful thinking.
As for the President, he will either serve four more years or not. Either way, there is nothing to take back and the sky is not falling.
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