As I sit in Guam, half the world away from the American South, I realize the power of the internet and satellite television. The political debates in the US are evident even here. After watching Fox News and reading several letters to the editor that were posted online, I am reminded that conservatives continue to present themselves as little more than hysterical children throwing a temper tantrum. Temper tantrums require little more than pique over not getting ones way. They bear little relationship to reason or fact, just anger, pure unadulterated anger.
For more than two years, I have been arguing that people who complain about the decline of America should provide specific examples and cease speaking in broad, general terms. As one example of the latter, a recent letter writer sounded the alarm about DC– but offered not one ounce of proof. It was an emotional argument totally lacking reason or common sense. The writer wrote, “Washington has been hijacked by a group of ungodly, self-seeking, anti-American’s bent on destroying our country and the Constitution upon which it was formed under God.” The letter went downhill from there.Obviously, Democrats were the target of this vacuous diatribe.
It is so easy to rant and rave. However, it is another thing entirely to support such meaningless drivel with concrete examples that a reasonable person would agree buttresses the complaint. But then, it is very difficult to study an issue and understand its complexity. One has to wonder who hijacked Washington. Obama was elected by a wide, uncontested margin. His or her constituents duly elected every Representative and Senator. A majority of the Senate duly confirmed every Supreme Court Justice. In other words, Washington reflects the electorate. Washington reflects the form of government our ancestors thought would be best for the country. Is the letter writer suggesting our ancestors made a terrible mistake?
I suppose the writer wants to “take back America,” a phrase often heard from conservatives, but from whom? The writer asserts that the Constitution was founded on Christian principles. As I have said before, if you look at what some of our founding fathers said, it becomes clear that they were more interested in freedom of, and from, religion. For example, John Adams is quoted as saying: “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.” Then we have Benjamin Franklin who is quoted as saying: “Lighthouses are more useful than churches.” Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, is quoted as saying, “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
These men were not opposed to Christianity but they understood the evils of merging church and state. Modern conservatives, especially Southern conservatives, seem to believe just the opposite. They seem to forget that the Constitution grants minorities the same rights as the majority. Conservatives have all the earmarks of wanting to force their views on everyone, an arrogant stance that defies the basic principles of our Democracy.
So, who is trying to hijack the Constitution and pervert it with their prescription for life? As for destroying our country, the conservative temper tantrums and obstructionism appear to be doing more to cripple this country than anything progressives have done, either now or in the past. Their hypocrisy is appalling; too bold to be believed.
For example, Sarah Palin rails against government health care, equating it to death panels and big government’s intrusion into our lives. All the while, her grandson, Tripp, is on government health insurance. If she felt so strongly against government-sponsored health insurance, she could surely afford to enroll him in private insurance. Alternatively, consider the conservative congressional representatives who vote against the recovery act and then took credit for funding local projects in their districts. Finally, as I have pointed out before, watch the tea party rail against career politicians while re-electing them.
I would suggest that conservatives rejoin our Democracy by realizing that at least half of the country has ideas that are different than conservative views. They should realize that what has prevented a second civil war has been the wisdom of Washington in giving different views a place at the table and melding disparate ideas so that everyone gets something. To demand it all is to destroy the compromises that have made this country the greatest nation on earth. Moreover, they will fail to gain credibility until they are able to better articulate and support their concerns. Until they do, there cannot be an intelligent national discussion that leads to constructive solutions.