BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
GOP Underestimates Conservative America
While President Obama is going about his valiant and statesman-like attempt to rescue America and restore our image at home and abroad, the GOP's politics as usual, diehard operatives are acting like spoiled brats determined to undermine the president's–and America's–effort. But in their blind attempt to regain power they seem to have forgotten one important fact–the vast majority of true conservatives are fiercely loyal Americans, and don't share their view of power at any cost.
While conservatives have a vastly different view from liberals regarding the policies that make America great, the two groups have one very important thing in common–both groups understand that even as we indulge in our sibling rivalry, we are all Americans. America is a family, which means the viability of our nation and proud American traditions must come first.
But many of the wingnuts on both the right and the left have long since lost sight of that very fundamental principle. They've allowed what was once a healthy sibling rivalry to escalate into a hatred within the American family that supercedes the viability of America itself. That is unacceptable, and it is exactly that mindset that has led directly to the crises that the nation faces today.
In their wisdom, however, the American people decided to put an end to it. That's why we have radicals on the left, calling President Obama a sellout, and reactionaries on the right, calling him a socialist. But the fact is, President Obama is a true mainstream American that the American people have sent to Washington to put an end to this childish bickering.
President Obama is neither liberal nor is he a conservative, he's a progressive--and while the terms liberal and progressive are often used interchangeably, there's a big difference. Both liberals and conservatives are people who have, by definition, surrendered their independent thought to the exigencies of political ideology. On the other hand, a progressive is an independent thinker who recognizes that truth and wisdom, more often not, is neither black nor white–it generally resides in the grey.
A clear example of that is the liberal tendency to promote the idea that a "progressive tax" is a system where people who make less money should pay a lesser percentage of their income in taxes than people who make more. That's complete nonsense, unjust, and therefore not progressive thinking. A true progressive supports public policies that are fair to all, and recognizes that justice is blind, therefore, caters to neither race, creed, sex, nor social or economic status.
True progressives understand that it is just as unjust to discriminate against the privileged as it is the poor. Egalitarian principles dictate that everyone pay the exact same percentage of their income in taxes--that, is progressive taxation. The argument that it won't work because it won't bring in enough revenue, is a meaningless argument to a true progressive, because progressive thinking dictates that convenience has nothing to do with what is just.
On the other hand, fiscal conservatives argue that the national doctrine of freedom of expression dictates that corporations should be allowed to send lobbyist to Washington with pockets full of money to lobby and influence congressional legislation. That's also ridiculous. Corporations are not citizens, so a citizen's right to petition government is not an inalienable right required to be extended to corporations. When citizens incorporate a business they are relieved of much of their personal liabilities, therefore, when acting as a corporate entity, they must sacrifice many of the rights that they enjoy as private citizens.
Thus, if the nation wouldadhered to common sense in addressing national issues rather than allowing public policy to be dictated by radical wingnuts and special interests, the gains that we would acquire as a direct result would allow everyone to prosper and be treated fairly. If tax payers didn't have to foot the bill every time some corporate big wig took his girlfriend to a power lunch or bought a Mercedes and wrote it off as a business expense, we'd have enough revenue to treat every American taxpayer equally. It would also take a wedge issue off the table that political demagogues use to divide us–after all, many fiscally conservative Republicans are socially progressive, so an evenhanded taxation policy would make them much less apt to align themselves with social bigots.
Contrary to what some would have us believe, all conservatives are not self-serving bigots. The election of President Obama makes it clear that many registered Republicans understood that in spite of party and personal interest, President Obama was uniquely qualified to lead this nation at this moment in our history. They didn't see his Black skin as a deficit. On the contrary, they saw Barack Obama's diverse background as an asset, so they set their personal interest and idology aside, put America first. They should be honored for that, instead of dragged through the mud with GOP demagogues.
These people understood that Obama's Black skin allowed him to understand what it meant to be Black and poor in America. They also understood that being the product of an immigrant father, he fully understood the challenges and hardships of millions of immigrants across this land. It was clear to these conservatives that after having lived all over the world, and even enjoying the benefits of differing cultures within his own family, that Barack Obama had a unique understanding of the mindset and views held towards America by other people and cultures throughout the world. They also recognized that after being raised and loved by White Americans in the very heartland of this nation, that he also understood the needs, fears, and aspirations of middle American. And finally, they recognized that he's a brilliant intellectual and constitutional scholar, whose knowledge of America and American traditions would dwarf nearly any president in the history of this nation.
So in spite of all of the divisive rhetoric served up by the GOP hatemongers, these conservatives said, while I don't entirely agree with his philosophy of governance, I going to support him, because he's right for America at this point in our history. They deserve recognition for that, because unlike the Limbaugh wingnuts, and liberals of every stripe, it was the ideological sacrifice of those conservatives that led directly to the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Therefore, as progressives, let us not make the mistake of gloating in the face of these people, because while liberals and progressives turned out in larger numbers, no group in America has made a greater sacrifice to ensure that Barack Obama is sitting in the White House today.
Progressives should also learn from President Obama, and not confuse all conservatives with GOP wingnuts. Listen to the words of Charles, a true conservative, at the link below, and begin to understand that it is not conservatism that is the enemy. Limbaugh told this conservative caller that he was not a Republican, he was one of the stupid people that allowed President Obama to be elected. Limbaugh was right in one respect, the man is not a Republican, at least, as Limbaugh defines Republicanism, but neither is he stupid--he's a loyal, conservative American.
I take great pride in coming to the defense of this man. He said that he was a former Marine, and so am I, so it comes naturally. Limbaugh told him that he didn't know diddley squat, but unlike Limbaugh and his kind, Charles does know what it means to come to the defense of America. As a former Marine, I've known such men. He's of the very same breed that left their families and marched off to die, to defeat slavery.
Eric L. Wattree
A moderate is one who embraces truth over ideology, and reason over conflict.