At a town hall meeting, a fourth grader asked President Obama why everyone hated him.
I think we should stop wondering about the kid who was NOT aloft in a hot air balloon and we should think about what this fourth grader asked the President. It is easier to wonder about hot air balloon boy, his family’s interest in science experiments and their appearance as contestants on “Wife Swap”. Putting this family under a microscope helps us avoid bigger and, dare I say, more important, issues.
Focusing on the fourth grader’s question requires us to look at how we behave.
We have to examine the tenor of our disagreements, the personal nature of the attacks, our fears for the future of our way of life and our desperate anxiety about not being all powerful on the international stage.
From the simplicity of his question, the following things came to mind:
1. We need to disengage from the-ends-justify-the-means view. There is another word for “means” and that word is “barbarism” — i.e., torture, character assassination, lies, bribes, etc.
2. Passion for one’s cause not require person attacks, lies and defamation. Passion is evident in the force of one’s argument and tireless efforts promoting the cause.
3. There is room for the loyal opposition. When did we forget the phrase, “my country, right or wrong”?
The goal should be fair and open, vigorous and informative debate, “deciders” act for the common welfare and everyone abides by the result. If losing means you make up lies and propaganda and continually do things disrespectful of the government, then you don’t deserve to be a citizen. I was pretty unhappy when GW Bush was declared winner in 2000 and elected in 2004 and every time he did something with which I disagreed, I always hoped that his decisions were right. Because if he were, the country would suffer.
4. We must be willing to see the flaws in our own arguments.
I’ll start. I believe that the public option insurance is necessary, but no one can predict the price tag and it really could be too costly right now. Maybe in five years, we could afford it.
Also, Afghanistan is a quagmire with a corrupt government. Nation-building is always a disaster. I don’t believe that President Obama should send more troops. In fact, we should remove our troops and seek a relationship with a fairly elected government. But we should continue to bomb out Al-Qaeda. (I’m feeling pretty extreme this afternoon.)
Now, let’s look at the GOP who use the slogan, “America First”. WAIT, do you think Democrats don’t put America first? Are you delusional?
Let’s look at the facts of the GOP’s putting America first:
- Under GOP leadership, manufacturing jobs went overseas in astounding numbers, and promoted the burgeoning economies of India and China.
- Refusal to meet with Iran (and GWB’s botching of several opportunities for some sort of freeze) only increased its determination to build nuclear weapons.
- The war in Iraq made us indebted to the Chinese government in an insane amount.
- Our armies cannot continue another war without a DRAFT.
- Our need for fossil fuels has made Russia a necessary player.
- De-regulation almost brought this mighty nation to its knees and then the small government politicians had to bailout the banks (SOCIALISM, anyone?)
Now, explain to me again why the GOP blames President Obama for having to forge new diplomatic relationships and alliances?
(Now tell me the truth. Was I ranting?)