This is an actual billboard in Iowa, created by the Iowa Tea Party.
This stuff really has me down. I wish I had some understanding of where this hate and despair is truly coming from. The number of people that feel this way–that Obama is the anti-Christ and that liberals are killing the country–is WAY out of bound with normalcy. It’s just too easy/lazy for the liberals to say “they’re all a bunch of rednecks and radicals” and dismiss them as stupid. Something else is happening here and we really need to understand it better (if we want to get our country back on track).
Is it really as simple as jobs or race? One one hand, job loss does fuel the rage when people feel anxiety about income and job security; the pitchforks get raised and the government is blamed. But, something inside of me says that its more than that. And, there’s been lots of research that says its not about race (my other intuition). Note that the GOP was nearly as vicious with Bill Clinton, Hillary, John Kerry, etc. So, race probably is part of the issue, but not the deepest root. Did the liberals and democrats get this vicious when Bush started a war for the wrong reasons? No (but maybe they should have).
I sense that something bigger and deeper is going on here and that it can only end in violence. Really. I honestly feel we’re closer to 1861 than most people realize. It feels to me that this problem is growing out of our control and nothing can turn it around until it climaxes, probably in some form of violence and tragedy. I hate to use this word lightly, but a lot of this rhetoric sounds like treason and mutiny to me.
Heather and I had a long debate last night. She’s a Canadian liberal, social progressive and ranted about all the core problems with America: over-powered lobby interests, financial greed, and an overall national character trait of me-me-me are the root problems in America. I argued that while I agree with a lot of her points, NOW is not the time to start picking the country apart. We are in the midst of several real national crises and this is the time for people to come together, support the government, not attack it, and solve the problems. We all learned this in Kindergarten for goodness sakes! This does not mean to roll over and accept everything the government says! Rather, it simply means that we all need to appreciate how grave the situation is, try to be constructive, and realize that these people are doing their best. Man, I sound like a conservative! 🙂 Remember how England came together during WWII?
I have a feeling that a lot of conservatives feel that the liberals did exactly the same thing during the eight-year Bush presidency, i.e. completely destructive and divisive tactics. It’s payback time! But, I honestly feel that things are very different and hope that this does not need proving (i.e. Iraq war was a lie, actual civil liberties reductions, lack of transparency, adversarial attitude with outsiders and rest of world, financial deregulation, etc.). But, I’ll bet that many of the extremist conservatives are rationalizing their bad behavior this way.
But seriously, if you’re gonna criticize Obama, you only have a few public policy issues to point at. First, is the health care law. But, anyone who actually takes the time to read the details knows that this health care law is actually quite conservative, and in fact looks almost identical to the plan offered by the GOP a few years ago. It’s nonsense to call this socialist.
The next thing that one might criticize Obama for is the economy. But, just like health care, his actions have paralleled exactly what the Republicans were doing and would do if they were in office. It’s the safe and conservative approach. It’s truly hypocritical for conservatives to bust on Obama for this, especially considering he inherited it from the GOP! Of course, the conservative argument is that Bill Clinton is the guy to blame since he also contributed to federal deregulation of business. But, seriously, does anyone have any doubt why we’re in this economic mess? It’s a result of the conservative principle of “let business do its thang and everyone else will benefit.” It’s their mantra for goodness sakes! It does not take a genius to see that this principle can be carried too far.
BTW: I am a big fan of free markets and some libertarian positions, but clearly now is the time for directed action by the federal government (you don’t expect the free markets to fix it, do you?). Let’s loosen things up after the crisis is over.
And lastly there’s the Gulf oil spill. It’s hypocritical for conservatives who have been calling for more US offshore drilling to criticize Obama for BP’s mistake. Ok, so if its not his fault for creating the problem, let’s attack Obama for not fixing it fast enough. How lame!
The last big ticket issue is Financial Reform. How is it possible for conservatives not to see the need for this after what happened in 2008? And frankly, the current bill is quite weak and really does not go far enough to prevent another meltdown of this type. Seems to me the conservatives are all about destroying Obama, regardless of what his policies are (even when they are quite close to GOP positions)! And, that really can’t be good for the country.
Side note: I’ve worked for a lot of different high-tech companies and there is always a lot of opinions and disagreement on strategy and execution. This is normal. I have observed that the companies that make decisions and execute them, without grousing or “I told you so” mentality, are the companies that succeed. Of course there are rare cases where you gotta go ballistic, but these are reserved for criminality and major ethics violations. Otherwise, you get with the program, even if you disagree and execute at 100%. I find there’s something liberating about the clarity and consensus of a plan that everyone supports and does not second guess. So, my point is that our country is in crisis, our leader is trying his best to lead us out of it, and it’s time to work together. Continue to disagree, improve the solutions, participate, make it better, but do not destroy the conversation, make up loony accusations, and turn it ugly.
btw: It’s kinda funny that I consider myself to be a “social liberal, fiscal conservative”, and for the most part, still do. But, right now, our country needs some major healing (economic, energy, and education policy). And, if the policies needed in desperate times oppose my everyday positions, I can get behind it.
Tired rhetoric that needs to end:
- Obama is taking away our personal liberties. => Complete nonsense used to incite anger in lower-income folks.
- Obama’s health care is socialism. => Man I wished it were, but it’s not. The health care bill is practically identical to the GOP proposal from a few years ago. It’s extremely weak and just a start. It’s nothing close to the successful systems used in Europe and Canada.
- Obama has ruined the economy. => Come on, this is just nuts. Bush’s wars debt and GOP deregulation caused it.
- Obama should not have bailed out the banks. => Yeah, right. And, let the world economy meltdown? No sane economic expert or leader would do this. Pure nonsense.
- Obama is leading a fascist government. => WTF! This is really nutty stuff with no substance.
- Obama is a radical. => I wished he were more of a radical! But, the facts are quite clear and the guy is another centrist democrat that could run as a Republican in some states.
Lastly, the personal attacks on Obama’s character just make no sense to me. Nothing about this man seems evil, false, incompetent, or insincere. He came into office with the strongest anti-partisan attitude of any president in recent history. He sincerely reached out to the GOP and tried to find common ground (well documented), but was strongly rebuked. He paid for this by looking weak and sappy. I think the guy truly prefers to work with his opponents than fight them, but the GOP just can’t seem to find it in themselves to work with the guy. America is suffering as a result of their childishness.