Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'Sink or Swim'

In his "Flunk the Right" post over at The Daily Beast, former George W. Bush and John McCain advisor Mark McKinnon decries how our political discourse has sunken to such a level of partisanship that
"an American president can’t give a simple inspirational speech to students about staying in school and working hard without having his motives, character, and politics questioned", and goes on to summarize President Obama's recent speech to the nation's schoolchildren:

Show up with a good attitude. Listen to your teachers and elders. Work hard. Figure out what you’re good at. Don’t drop out. You can do anything you set your mind to. God bless America.” What part of that is at all objectionable?

Yet, we are quite aware of how vociferously numerous GOP politicians, right-wing pundits and misinformed regular folk indeed objected to it. But these people are not concerned with nuts and bolts. They see it as part of a bigger picture; a twisted battle for the heart and soul of the country which they must win at any cost.
This fight is emblematic of the core philosophy that guides their general outlook; one that lacks, for the most part, any kind of middle ground. (Or compassion: ever wonder why the phrase "compassionate conservatism" became a marketing brand for these folks? Or why the mere mention of the word "empathy" stirs up such profound derision?)

You see, the Republicans, especially at the far right of the party,
can be distilled ideologically down to three words when it comes to domestic policies dealing with healthcare, education, labor, the environment, etc: sink or swim. And before you call me simplistic, stop and think about it for a minute and ask yourself if the following does not sound familiar:

Can't afford health insurance? Get (yet) another job to pay for it. That operation you need costs more than what your insurer covers? Sell your house. Tuition too expensive? Welcome to McDonald's.
Your employer exploiting you and your co-workers? Switch jobs. Unions? They're a racket. Corporations polluting your water, air?
Hey, it's the cost of doing business. Disagree with the opposition party's President? Forget loyal opposition; label him an un-American, non-citizen who wants to take away your rights and freedoms
and use any hypocrisy and lies at your disposal to "prove" your point.

And so on and so forth.

While I'm pretty sure that Obama's ascent to the presidency was deep down not thought to be a possibility for many of them, and were subsequently caught by surprise when it came to pass, I don't believe the GOP is racist per se--although citizens of New Orleans have every right to argue this point--but having a liberal black president helps their agenda immensely. Most assuredly with those who disdain government, let alone one headed by a man of color.

This is indeed a daunting, yet winnable clash for those who would contest such an appalling mindset. Yet, the Democrats, and this administration in particular, do not seem up to the task at this point in time. I hope actions in the immediate future render me completely off the mark. God help us if I'm right.

Happy Juneteenth!