Sunday, March 8, 2009

Stand Together or Hang Separately

The Party of NO! A Nation of Can’t

A brief presidential history: Whether or not it is deserved the pundits who make their living reporting and commenting on politics have tagged the Republican Party with the moniker, “The Party of No.” It is true that currently the Republican Party is in disarray. Like any culture the American culture is a living, breathing entity that grows and changes as it matures. When I travel through Europe, the Middle East and Asia I see paintings, buildings and artifacts that are older than our country. In modern America – that is, the America many of us living here can remember, the post World War was given Hell by Harry then decided that they liked Ike who campaigned on a platform of “Korea, Communism, and Corruption.” Ike coasted to a second victory in 1956. Ike’s heir apparent and vice president Tricky Dick lost a squeaker to young, brash Jack Kennedy. In ’64 the country went all the way with LBJ and in ’68 Nixon was the one to dump the Hump.

More on presidents: Nixon won in ’72 and by his side was VP Agnew. Nixon’s liberal economic policies and Watergate plumbers stopped him up in ’74. He drove away leaving a Ford behind. Mr. Peanut removed the Ford from office in ’76 and The Gipper returned the favor in 1980 then stomped on Wally’s world in ’84. In 1988 GHWB continued the stomping, but in 1992 Willie slickly slid into home and stayed there in ’96. “W” or as his opponent’s called him, “King George II” held the next two terms until the current president changed the complexion of politics.

To change or not to change, that is the question: While the Democrats were taking a thrashing on the national scene the Republicans were riding high. Their nerdy brain trust discovered strategies that worked. White males, who had dominated the party, discovered strength in electing politicians from the buckle of the Bible Belt. The Republicans were like big American cars with powerful engines that arrogantly kicked aside all comers. They became NASCAR both literally and figuratively. They were untouchable – until they were touched.

Desperately Seeking Swagger: Democrats tried to rip a page from their opponent’s book by running a Tennessee Stud in Al Gore. He didn’t even carry his home state. Then they tried running a war hero but he was shot down in flames by the nerdy brain trust. Finally, almost by accident they nominated a candidate who was right for the time. But the new president inherited social and economic problems on a scale not seen in this country since before World War II. The problems are reflected in countries worldwide and the president has put forth plans designed to address them. As the old country and western song says, “That’s where your heartaches begin.”

Blood, toil, sweat, and tears: Our country is young but it has been faced with many crises in its brief history. The very birth of our nation was a struggle of overwhelming odds with England – the world’s foremost power of the day – determined to keep America as one of her colonies. “The sun never sets on the English Empire” was the slogan of the day and she wanted to keep it that way. But the Americans stood side by side and fought seemingly insurmountable odds before earning the young country’s first victory. From Independence to the War of 1812 the new Americans struggled with their identity. They feared contamination from the old world and proceeded with cautious optimism. All parties stood as one and shaped this great country. When Britain became heavy handed with the young country, the United States of America declared war on Britain in 1812. Once again the odds favored Britain but once again Americans stood united and defeated their foe. The country threatened to implode over the slavery issue in the mid-19th century and the civil war saw the nation hang by a thread, but again America overcame the crisis and in the mix a coast-to-coast railroad was built.

Our country has weathered many other crises. The economic collapse of the late 19th century, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and the 9/11 attacks to name a few. But each time the country emerged stronger than it had been before the crisis and each time it had done so because Americans stood side by side and, to paraphrase a line from our president’s campaign speeches, we did so not because we had a red America and a blue America, but we did so as the United States of America.

All we are saying is give him a chance: We must once again become Americans first and Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and other political parties second. The president has put forth a plan to try to repair the damage and heal the ills that have accumulated over the past decades of excesses. The plan put forth may or may not work, but it stands even less a chance of being successful with so many Americans spewing vitriol rather than constructive criticism.

The secretary of State is currently on a world tour trying, among other goals, to get nations to lay down their arms against other nations and attempt to talk productively. That very philosophy must be applied to our own backyard if we are to survive this economic crisis, healthcare crisis, home mortgage crisis, energy crisis, and related crises. To hear Hannity, Maher, Limbaugh, Olberlin, O’Reilly et. al. spew forth daily with their half truths, and propaganda without ever offering a constructive alternative plan is divisive, not uniting. To see Republicans vote in a solid bloc, 100% no without reviewing, digesting, and offering viable alternatives is to push the goal of mending this country’s crises farther away.

Unite, but don’t become a zealot: The nation is in a peril the magnitude of which has been rarely seen in our country’s history. However, each time we have faced crises in the past we have stood together as Americans and overcome them. That is the constant – unity. We must stand together in these troubled times if we are to overcome them. We must support our country’s leaders and make it work as we have in the past. We must not attack the ideas put forth simply because they come from members of “the other” political party. But neither should we blindly follow. Just as success requires unity so does it require checks and balances. Our president is a brilliant man with a good heart, but he is not, as some might say, the messiah nor is he infallible. I implore those on both sides of the aisle to review and offer constructive suggestions and criticisms where they are merited. But the Hatfield and McCoy type sniping must stop. Only then do we have a chance to remain “One nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

A little blogging music Maestro... “This is My Country” with words by Don Raye and music by Al Jacobs.

Dr. Forgot

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