Birthers? The Party of Lincoln today should be ashamed of itself

I rarely step into the mucky ground of politics on this blog. For one thing, I don’t want to get hate mail and have my blog flamed. For another I am a person of generally moderate views and did most of my metaphorical bomb-throwing during my inflamed youth.

For the record I am a Democrat, but a lukewarm one, and I like it when there is some sensible opposition to my own party when they are in power, especially here in Massachusetts where Democrats are in a preponderance.

I have many fine, smart, and knowledgeable friends who are Republicans, and wouldn’t call one of them a wing nut. Well, maybe one. I read the New York Times with appreciation, but I don’t fool myself that it is particularly objective. I chuckle at the description of it as “the parish newsletter of self-satisfied liberalism.” I almost put “self-satisfied liberal” in the space next to political opinions on my Facebook Page. Instead I just put “yes.”

All this is prolegomena to what I am about to say, which is that I have never before seen an opposition party in this country ever so bent on the failure of their opponents at any cost as the Republican Party is now.  It makes me very sad.

I never liked the vitriolic Bush-bashing that I often witnessed for eight years, and never participated in it, despite my strong view that he was not good for the country or the world. Bashing G.W. Bush at a Massachusetts dinner party takes about as much courage as cheering for the Red Sox in a Kenmore Square bar. We are a nation of laws and not men, and I respect the office of President even when I dislike the incumbant.

I don’t take Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck any more seriously than I would the guy who breathes fire at the circus. They are entertainers, and the people who take their views from them are benighted. Democrats have John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who I admit are funnier and more ironic.

But I expect better from our elected officials than from our comedians. First it was Congressman Joe Wilson shouting out “liar” at the President during a speech to a joint session of Congress back in September.

Now, a few days ago, Congressman Nathan Deal, who is also a gubernatorial candidate in the Georgia Rebublican primary, announced that he is signing a letter to the White House with several of his Congressional colleagues asking for a copy of President Obama’s birth certificate. Deal also wants to take away the Fourteenth Amendment’s right for children born on American soil to be citizens.

I long for the days when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil could have a beer together.  Where is the loyal opposition, who could horse-trade and compromise and advance the good of the country. These people today really just don’t like each other, and will not work together, even if the country is harmed by it.

And the country is being harmed by it. We have numerous significant issues before us that will impact our common life and the world’s for years to come. There are honest differences of opinion between the parties as there should be. But this kind of red-meat pandering to the wing nut base erodes the commonweal.

In Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, with the country on the brink of Civil War, he said: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

The party of Lincoln today should be ashamed of itself, and quickly recover the better angels of their nature.  This country needs a responsible opposition party and soon.

7 thoughts on “Birthers? The Party of Lincoln today should be ashamed of itself

  1. >Good piece, Rick. You gain credibility by the rarity of your comments. I do hope, though, that the church of Jesus Christ will soon realize that government is not a suitable conduit for the good we're called to do in the world. Wait for government to figure out health care? We used to build hospitals.Peace.allen hilton

  2. >Thanks Allen, you make a good point, and as you know I am not one of those who believes that Christian social action means just asking the government to do things for us. At the same time the government has the the economy of scale to make life better for many people and Christians should not refrain for pushing them to do so. So I hope our government does reform a badly broken health care system, though I do not expect Utopia.Peace, Rick

  3. >Please view Mitchell Roe's first comment on Rick's FB.I do not know Mitchell, but I am sad that he did not respond to what Rick wrote above. Rather, he made his "own points" about the President and his "questionable background" &cIn "my book" that is not the best use of FB comments. I say this for two reasons:1. What Mitchell wrote is in no way an engagement with Rick's thesis. I am not much interested in Mitchell's personal POV. I would be interested in his assessment of Rick's argument.2. Mitchell tells us of his questioning of our President's "past" and his appointment of "questionable people". But he never says what he means. I'd like to ask "what is questionable in the President's past?", and "who are these questionable people that Obama has appointed – why are they questionable?"To express this in another way – I so much wish that Mitchell has written an analysis of Rick's blog, rather than a statement of his own views.As for me. I am a Democrat who lived for more than 30 years in Massachusetts. I believe that Massachusetts would be a healthier Commonwealth if it had a lively Republican party. As I see it, Mass. Republicans have focussed too much on the "corner office" in the State House, rather than on the building of the state-wide republican party.In Massachusetts the real power is in the hands of two people – The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. The Governor, whether republican or democratic, is a bit of a side show.

  4. >Michael,Thanks for your good thoughts. I agree heartily that Massachusetts is a good example of a commonweal that would be healthier with a vigorous responsible opposition party. I think like-mindedness is dangerous in both church and state, as Paul pointed out (about the church) in 1 Corinthians. My worry on the national scene is the vigor of the extremes.Peace,Rick

  5. >Nicely balanced, Rick. I admit to being a Democrat for pragmatic reasons – eveytime I voted Republican (Nixon Term I; Reagan Term I & II)I ended up kicking myself in the pants. Sitting here in Taipei and listening to the retoric from CNN, BBC, and local news (Mandy translates) is just unbelievable. America just does not seem as safe as Taiwan, even with 2000 missles pointed at us by China. If the very vocal and very conservative Republican minority actually suceed in goading someone to 'off' the President, I'll never return to USA. It will not be safe for anyone…

  6. >Mike P., 1.I am one of those hicks from western PA. who cling to there guns and religion. 2.I took it for granted that you read the papers, watch the news on TV, listen to the radio,and use your computer to keep up. 3. I like to get to the point and figure people can think a little for themselves. 4. So if I do not agree with a statement or idea I should just be silent.

  7. >Hi Rick, I am a Republican living in Utah. I used to be a Democrat but the supported moral issues became to much for me to bare. Not that there aren't different moral issues in this party that I disagree with! Anyway, I couldn't agree with you more. President Obama was elected whether someone likes that or not. He is the President of the United States and deserves our support. I don't expect our legislature to agree with him on everything, but there should always be respect for the man, his position and the fact that the majority of Americans elected him.Anything that we can do to improve our situation here in the United States should be supported. Let him try. However, the politics involved won't allow that to happen. Things have changed since the time of Lincoln and even Reagan. We as a people are more interested in ourselves than we are in the good of all. This new information technology age has acted like a poison when it comes to helping others and the good of the whole. It would be nice to see it all change for the better especially when I look at my own children and grandchildren. Unfortunately I seem to be more of a pessimist these days concerning this than the optimist that I used to be.Thanks for your comments!The History Man

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