To The Editor of The Voice:
I just read the commentary on the Republican National Convention written by Chad Newton in the current edition of The Voice.
While the commentary is marked as such, I believe that publishing a commentary full of ad hominem attacks does a disservice to not only the author but also to the outlet publishing the attacks.
Commentary such as “I know you liberals like for me to speak more about your savior” and “The convention made the Democratic National Convention look like a bunch of pansies with lipstick and pink thongs” are precisely what’s wrong with the political process now.
Unfortunately, that’s what we saw on television during the Republican National Convention. None of the “red meat” that Mr. Newton alluded to came through, unless his definition of “red meat” is a slanderous attack.
Sarah Palin probably scored points with the neoconservatives in her party when she talked about her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska as “sort of like a community organizer, except you have actual responsibilities.” Shame on Sarah Palin. Does she not realize that Jesus Christ was a community organizer, and Pontius Pilate was a governor?
The hypocrisy from the talking heads on the right-wing right now is staggering. Bill O’Reilly said that Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was a personal matter. With that I agree. However, Bill didn’t say the same thing when Jamie Lynn Spears got pregnant.
Are some of the attacks on Palin sexist? Sure they are. But unfortunately, she hasn’t taken a stand on any issues and is continuing to hide from the media rather than let us know where she stands on issues.
Ah, issues! Isn’t that what elections are about? Not a black guy, or a woman, or a pregnant teenage daughter, but issues? And not just those wedge issues – God, gays, and guns, but issues that really affect the American people in their everyday lives?
We saw a week of discussion of the issues at the Democratic National Convention. We saw a scathing rebuke to the failed policies of the George W. Bush administration and a compelling case laid forward that while John McCain was a maverick eight years ago, he has spent the last eight years kowtowing to the Republican Party leadership and is no more a maverick than Kobe Bryant is a hockey player.
As a libertarian, I waited anxiously to see how the Republicans would respond to a damning issue-oriented attack. Instead, the Republicans decided to play “shoot the messenger” rather than go after the Democrats’ message, and spend their time on television practicing the same old political tricks.
Why can’t they campaign on the issues? The problem right now is that the Republicans haven't got a leg to stand on when it comes to the issues, so they use jingoistic appeals to patriotism and nationalism kind of like some other guy did back in Europe in the '30s.
The people who cheer the path this nation has taken over the past several years probably think that it's not fascism when their party does it.
Frankly, FDR's inaugural address from 1933 resonates just as much today as it ever has:
"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."
As Americans it's time to reject the politics of fear. It's time to tell both political parties that enough is enough. Every day that goes by I become more certain that not only does John McCain need to be defeated, but Barack Obama needs to be elected - if only because he's the only one talking about the issues right now.
John McCain and the Republicans are offering none of that, and the change in direction that party has made over the last several years in campaign strategy makes my head spin. Four years ago, the Democrats ran a war hero (albeit a terrible candidate) and the neoconservative spin machine told us that military experience didn't matter, John Kerry really might not have deserved his purple heart, and swift boated him clear out of the race.
It was then that the overwhelming stupidity of a large section of the American populace came to light. For the "Swift Boat" style of political attack to work, you have to prey on fear and panic, and boy did it work.
(Note: I honor John Kerry's service to our nation. It is because of brave and honorable men like him that we have the ability to do everything we do - from the major to the minor - like disagree on political candidates)
NOW - you have a genuine war hero running for President. Someone who served his nation with dignity and honor. And all of a sudden, it's important to the GOP that the President have military experience.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that dog won’t hunt. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist either to qualify to be a voter either – and we’ve seen the results first-hand of playing politics to the lowest common denominator over the last eight years.
(Note: I honor John McCain's service to our nation. It is because of brave and honorable men like him that we have the ability to do everything we do - from the major to the minor - like disagree on political candidates)
Politicians in both parties will undoubtedly say anything to get elected. But right now the Republicans are espousing the worst of it. And quite frankly, over the past several years (from the time they took control of the congress to the present day) they have proven themselves to be negligent, incompetent, and criminally corrupt. And now, with nothing left to say, they're campaigning using fear.
Like a schoolyard bully who dominates all the other kids on the playground, the Republican Party is trying to intimidate the American people to vote for them. Not because of where they stand on issues that matter, but because a segment of the party wants to impose its social agenda on the rest of the country.
I identify myself as a libertarian and will be voting Democratic this fall. Why would a libertarian break from the ranks of fiscal conservatives? Simply put - there isn’t such a thing in the Republican Party anymore. And even I know we're going to have to take our medicine in the form of higher taxes if we're going to pay down our national debt. Spending cuts aren't going to make a dent in the thing.
I think it's reprehensible that we would continue to deficit spend and leave our children and grandchildren holding the bag - where they will be born into a nation that has lost its footing in the world because we as a nation (just like many individuals) have maxed out our virtual credit cards and we are just ignoring the bills.
I think it's disgusting that we as Americans refuse to take responsibility when we do something wrong and we demonize those among us who think we need to right the ship as people who "hate America." Putting country first means having enough pride in the United States to be accountable when things aren't going the right way, and work hard to make sure the ship is righted.
It's not "My country, right or wrong" or "My country, always wrong."
It's more along the lines of "My country, for better or for worse, and if it's for worse, we're going to make it better."
We can not attack people's patriotism when they challenge the way we're doing things. If there's a better way, let's find it and let's do it. I believe we as Americans are at our most patriotic when we're working to make our nation a better place.
And I honestly believe that whether you identify yourself as a Republican or Democrat, that's what you want. You want this to be a better nation. You want this to be a safe place for our children.
Ronald Reagan once said "Don't be afraid to see what you see." And we can't be afraid to see and identify flaws in our nation and our government if we hope to improve both.
Reagan also said "I've never felt more strongly that America's best days and democracy's best days lie ahead. We're a powerful force for good. With faith and courage, we can perform great deeds and take freedom's next step. And we will. We will carry on the tradition of a good and worthy people who have brought light where there was darkness, warmth where there was cold, medicine where there was disease, food where there was hunger, and peace where there was only bloodshed."
And he was right. Our best days are ahead but they won't just fall in our lap. We have to take the tough steps to ensure that those better days come and not fall into the neo-fascist trappings of a party that a man like Reagan would no longer recognize.
A quote widely attributed to Sinclair Lewis says “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
The scary reality is that’s what is happening. You can go back to the witch hunt surrounding the impeachment of Bill Clinton and fast forward to the 2000 election to see that the seeds of division were being sown by the far right. Then 9/11 came along – a tragic event that surely galvanized the American people and gave George W. Bush the chance to live up to his 2000 campaign promise to be “a uniter, not a divider.”
Mr. Bush failed miserably at this.
After squandering not only the goodwill of the American people, but the world, Mr. Bush failed miserably at this. And as such, failure has become inexorably linked to the Bush legacy.
Barack Obama is not going to be the savior, and Mr. Newton, “liberal” is not a bad word. Despite what you might hear from Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, liberals are not going to take over your home in the middle of the night, take your guns away and force you to renounce Christianity while forcing your daughter to have an abortion.
Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and other; and there are a lot of people who would identify themselves as “other,” all need to realize that ideology is not evil. Liberal ideology is not evil. Conservative ideology is not evil.
No, it is the pursuit of power that ends up corrupting. Far too many well-meaning public servants get sent to Washington to do good for the people and instead do very well for themselves.
Whether you identify as a Democrat, Republican, or other, you certainly can see that corruption has become a way of life in Washington. And through the last eight years of the Bush administration, it has gotten worse. The Bush Administration’s efforts to gut habeas corpus, restrict personal freedoms, and grant immunity to corporations that assist in the government’s efforts to spy on Americans bring to mind a quote from Benjamin Franklin – “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Those politicans who promise more of the same do not deserve to be sent back to Washington. John McCain and Sarah Palin are painted with that broad brush. The man who voted with President Bush “ninety percent of the time” is an honorable man who did a great service to our country, but is unfit to lead it.
And rather than address whether or not he is fit to lead this country, McCain and his surrogates will lash out and attack the “liberal media” who would dare to point out that McCain was a member of the Keating Five or that Palin is currently under investigation for corruption, not to mention the hypocrisy of the entire Republican talking heads now that they’re running a war hero for President instead of someone that failed to fulfill his duties to the Texas Air National Guard.
It makes me angry that that’s what politics has come to.
Mr. Newton, in between attacks and fawning, you said “I believe the media needs to stick to the issues.” I hope that in your next commentary you follow your own advice.
UAM Class of 2003
*Read Chad Newton's Republican National Convention commentary, at http://thevoice.uamont.edu/6-2/op-ed/repulican