Posts Tagged ‘anti obama protests’

            I was watching CNN Monday night – glued, really, to watching commentators explain the morass that has become our political system.  The discussion turned to protests that had occurred; one at the World War II memorial, the other in front of the White House.  Just to recap, a protest by veterans over the closing of the national memorials was taken over by right wing politicians looking to score political points.  Senator Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin attended, each giving the requisite conservative talking points, but the person garnering the real attention and stirring the discussion was Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch.

Here is what Klayman said.  “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put down the Koran, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.”  He also said that America is ruled by a president who “Bows to Allah.”  Let’s put aside for now the ignorance over the implication that worshipping Allah is something bad (Allah is simply the Arabic word for God.  Did Klayman really mean to say worshipping God is bad?).  Let’s also put aside for now the implication that one cannot be Moslem and be a good, patriotic American, even president.  Klayman’s words need to be seen in the larger context of what else was happening in these various protests.

In front of the White House a man stood waving a Confederate flag.  As Washington DC police were trying to maintain some kind of order, they were being derided as similar to Nazis or as “Kenyans.”  All of this is just a continuation of the “birther” mentality, of course.  This is a group that has refused to accept Barak Obama as the legitimately elected President of the United States.  We have been watching this movement build since the 2008 election.  All of the panelists on CNN Monday night, Democrat and Republican, expressed their disagreement with the political views of the protesters.  No one felt the shutdown should continue.  No one felt much positive would come of allowing the country to go past the debt ceiling.  However, when Andrew Sullivan said that he (a former Reagan Republican) wanted someone in the Republican Party to repudiate the crazy statements of people like Klayman, the Republicans on the panel wavered.  None would take that step.

Instead, Rich Galen opined that the expressions of some Republicans questioning  of the legitimacy of the Obama presidency is just the latest iteration of what often happens.  He gave the example of the many Democrats who did not accept the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s presidency.  He continued by saying many Democrats derided Bush throughout his presidency.  These are really fair points if one would be comparing Bush, say, to Clinton.  However, there is a key difference between the extreme left’s failure to accept Bush and the extreme right’s failure to accept Obama.

Bush’s presidency began under the cloud of a suspect electoral process.  The 2000 election was one of the rarities in which the loser won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote.  Further, the electoral vote was lost because of a supreme court ruling over the continuation of recounts in Florida.  Even though later evidence suggests that the recount would not have changed the outcome, it was a presidential election lacking a clear mandate.  The non acceptance of Bush was based on the process, not Bush himself.

That is not the case with Obama.  Barak Obama was the clear winner in 2008 (nearly a landslide) as well as in 2012.  The extreme right’s attempts to delegitimize Obama is not based on the electoral process, but on Obama himself.  If you study the pictures and rhetoric of the extreme right, it is filled with racial innuendos, accusations of Obama not being a true American, insinuations that he is a Moslem – all a demonization of the person.  Why?  The answer is what no Republican wishes to admit – Obama is black (surprise!).  The majority of Republicans are not racist and even grudgingly accept the Obama presidency.  BUT – and here is the key point – there is a key element of the party that will not accept the changing face of America.  We are soon to be a majority minority country.  This is the reason that this same contingent does not want reasonable immigration reform.  There will be too many of “those” people in our country taking our resources, jobs and voting for non-white candidates for president.  This is a real and serious problem for the Republican party; the same problem the Democrats had in the era in which they battled internally with segregationist Democrats.

There is an additional difference between the presence of crazies on the right in the GOP and on the left in the Democratic party.  The Democratic party allows the crazies to speak (it is a free country after all), but they have no seat at the power table.  Yes, MSNBC gives a show to someone like Al Sharpton (I just cannot forgive the Tawana Brawley debacle), but he has no real influence on policy.  This is not the case with Republicans.  The latest debacle over the debt ceiling, and the shutdown of the government shows that the inmates are running the Republican asylum.  This is not just bad for the GOP, but really bad for the country.  For our system operates best with two sane parties, each representing different perspectives, negotiating solutions.

But all of this really strays from what I think is the main problem highlighted by the CNN round table discussion over the protests and their implications.  No one is willing to stand up and be what we call in Yiddish a “mensch.”  Where are the Republicans of conscience who will stop making excuses for their whacko wing.  And where are the Democrats of conscience who stand ready to support sane Republican colleagues instead of chortling over the GOP’s internal problems?  Where are the political leaders on both sides who will get off of their ideological high horses and stop worrying about the next election and instead really put our country first?

There is a teaching in Pirkei Avot given by the great Rabbi Hillel, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.”  I see no one striving.

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