Friday, January 27, 2012

Democracy Means "Loyal" Opposition

Wow, I am even more depressed than usual about politics. I've just been having a back and forth discussion with a good friend. I would normally describe her as a generous, reasonable and intelligent person. But she's completely off the rails about President Obama. She's one of those who believes he is a Muslim, an alien, a stealth president who secretly (well, not even so secretly) wants to destroy America. She can't understand why I, whom she considers to be a generous, reasonable and intelligent person, can not believe those things.

Here is her e-mail (from which I edited some purely personal asides):

Vic ~ ....I am going to try to explain to you why I feel the way I do about the current jackass (pun intended) and my political thoughts. 

    First, the current president is in my opinion allot like Bill Clinton.  I know how much you like the Clintons but as soon as it's campaign time, he got all "conservative".  obama knows what the people want to hear so that's what he says and his speech the other night was nothing but a kick-off speech for his campaign. (if he said all the things you wrote to me). Yes, I agreed with 98% of what you wrote but again those were words, not actions.  And no, I have not watched or listened to that speech yet, and seriously doubt I will.      

    You say I 'hate' him, well maybe I do. I definitely have serious disdain for him.  And as I've said in the past, he may be president but he will never speak for me. 

    He is disrespectful of all patriotic Americans, and has been from day one.  His 'agenda' has nothing to do with the citizens but furthering his own cause. And yes, this can be said about anyone that runs.  But someone who has and projects so much hate for the country he's supposed to love bothers me on many levels! 

    He disrespects our flag and our military and states over and over and over again in speech after speech his Muslim background and affiliation.  I have listened to several of his speeches online and he bashes America in almost every one of them. And affirms his Muslim beliefs and affiliation. This is a number one bell ringer for me!  99% of the terrorists today are Muslim because of their beliefs.  This is very scary.

      You asked why I can't watch him.  Hell, I can't even stand to look at his picture in the paper.  Egotistical, manical, two sided s.o.b.  Again, a description of darn near every politician around these days.  And I AM NOT PREJUDICED!  I am willing to help elect any person, regardless of race (& religion) as long as they show respect.  Colin Powell would have outdone this clown 5 times over.  I have serious doubts about Romney.  I just don't like any of them Vic!

    Guess I fall into the bracket with about 80% of the people who just don't want to spend their time on politics, and hope for the best outcome without have to spend much effort.  Which is pretty sad.  It should be exciting and dynamic like it was when I was in high school.  I remember helping Alex Devine make signs at one of the party headquarters.  It seemed there was an excitement in the air and hopefullness and quality about those running.  That they had values and thought the same as me, and could actually change the country for the better.  Maybe it was because I was a teenager?  I don't know. 

    It will be several months before I decide for sure, but I can guarantee you this, even if I know nothing more than I know right this instant, I would vote only to vote against this current jerk. Although I do not know who I will vote for, only against.

    Voting for the lesser of two evils.......is a sad sad way to vote.  Your awesome e-mail back to me was astounding in clarity and very convincing.....you should be a speech writer for the democrats!  Seriously, you are that talented a writer.  But I'm sure if I looked up the republicans descriptions of that speech it would be totally opposite.

    Again, I'll judge the president on actions not on words alone.  His actions are against what I believe in.  

    I guess, we will just have to agree to disagree and not talk politics because unfortunately we do not see eye to eye and never will.   I have a right to my opinion, no matter how faltered it may be or you can prove that it is, just as everyone else has a right to theirs for whatever reasons they have. "

We began this debate shortly before the State of the Union address and it carried on until after.

What I find such a source of despair is that this is one of my best friends. I know her extremely well. I can't simply dismiss her as a right-wing wacko because in other areas, she isn't.

I responded to her letter, of course, although I know it is a waste of time. I asked her what actions of Obama's are against what she believes in?

Killing Bin Laden, which Bush failed to do in 7 years?

Obamacare? She is a older single woman. I asked her where she'd be if she lost her job tomorrow but I know the answer. She'd be without healthcare because she couldn't afford to "choose" her own as Romney wants her to be able to do. She has several pre-existing conditions. Obamacare would prevent her from being discriminated against by insurance companies because of them.

Saving the American auto industry? Although most Republicans were against bailing them out, Obama went ahead, preserving tens of thousands of jobs. G.M. is back to being the number one automaker and has since repaid the loans given to them by American taxpayers.

Fighting hard to force the Republicans to extend the payroll tax credit (from which she benefits)?

Proposing that the exceedingly rich pay a tax rate of at least 30%? I don't know how much my friends earns but I'd be surprised if it was even $40,000 annually. Does she truly think it is fair for Romney to pay only 13.9 per cent on $20 million dollars while she pays more?

I told her that I don't think it is politicians that have changed, it is the voters and that's because of both the Republicans and the media, their media. Because, of course, the Republicans pioneered creating their own media so that their true believers would never have to deal with the awfulness of hearing any views except their own. Democrats were way behind on this and still haven't caught up completely. Early on, the Republicans had Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and a whole slew of right-wing websites that pumped their vitriol into the body politic.

I told my friend that back in those good old days she remembers so fondly both the parties and the people believed in elections. We might work as hard as we could for our candidate but if the people's choice disagreed with ours, we accepted the results....and even if we opposed the policies of a president we hadn't voted for, we gave him the respect the office deserved. And our representatives followed the same philosophy. They would fight hard for legislation they believed in but, beyond that, they were willing to come together to compromise for the good of the country. And that was so, even when it involved their own. I watched every minute of the Watergate hearings. It was the Republicans who eventually told Richard Nixon that his actions constituted high crimes and misdemeanors.

I believe this attitude changed with Bill Clinton. The Republicans hated Clinton so much that they refused to accept the decision of the voters and decided they would destroy him. They impeached him over something that barely rose to the level of a misdemeanor, much less a high crime. They said the most hateful things about him. They posted the details of his impeachment on the freaking internet. But, in the end, he was re-elected despite their best efforts. It wasn't just Bill Clinton they maligned, it was our entire American system.

Then came George W Bush, whom we Democrats disliked almost as much as the R's disliked Clinton. To make it worse, we weren't even convinced he'd actually won the election. But...the Supreme Court said he did and despite our disgruntlement, we acceded to that ruling. I violently disagreed with many of Bush's actions - unnecessary war with Iraq, the Patriot Act's weakening of our civil rights, torture and extraordinary rendition and holding people forever without the opportunity to defend themselves in opposition to the very Geneva Accords America had fought to bring into being. I could go on....and on. But the point is, I wrote columns critical of George Bush. I worked against him in his re-election. I lost that fight. I did not want to impeach him. I did not accuse him of being a traitor. I did not say he did not speak for me or that he was not my president. Because, by God, you either believe in our democracy or you don't. You can't pick and choose and only pay lipservice when you get your way.

So, grumblingly, we lived through Bush and then along comes another Democrat president....and it is Clinton all over again. The Republican noise machine goes into overdrive to convince their followers that he isn't even really an American. He isn't even really a Christian. He hates America and wants to destroy it. They obstruct every piece of legislation he wants, even on issues they had approved in the past. They are willing to hurt Americans in the name of the higher goal of ensuring that he is a one term president (such as refusing to pass an extension to the payroll tax cut or for God's sake, practically letting America go bankrupt.)

And my friend, who won't watch either the State of the Union speech or the Republican debates to see whether she actually supports any of her party's candidates, says she has a right to her opinion.

But no one has a "right" to an opinion that is based on outright lies.

And no American should say any president is not their president....at least, not if they believe in our democracy.