not what we’re about…

Posted on Monday 29 December 2008

As the Republican Maelstrom discovered beginning in 1994 when they took over the Congress ,and in 2000 when they took over everything else, it is much easier to criticize the governance of others than it is to govern. In fact, their time in the Sun was largely spent dismantling all those things they found so odious in the years leading up to their final return to power.
Before 1994 [except for a couple of two year stints after World War II], they hadn’t held the majority in Congress since the Great Depression. And they hadn’t controlled both the Presidency and the Congress for 46 years [and then, for only two years]. One of their complaints was taxation of the wealthy, so they slashed the tax rates. They had complained about deficit spending too, but forgot that complaint when in office – setting a new gold standard in that venue. As in much of their dealing with governing, they were arithmetic-challenged.
Their arithmetic in war was no better. They sent too few troops to fight a war effectively, spent too much on contractors, and ended up prolonging the war until it has nearly bankrupted us. While I could go on and on, the point is painfully obvious. They had spent so many years being critics without having to actually govern, they came into office with a set of nay-sayer policies that universally backfired. Worst of all, they were bankrolled into office by a business community that wanted to make more money – and did. By deregulating the economy, they created a playground for the financial raiders that diverted our resources into the coffers of the Financier Elite, and has driven us to the brink of another Depression [not unlike the one their ancestors lead us to in the last century].

Truth be told, the Republicans came into power with a half a century of criticism, fomenting since F.D.R. rescued us from their last debacle. And they’re still at it, claiming that he "prolonged the Depression." And there is a slight truth to that. In 1937, he backed off of the New Deal policies in response to their criticisms, resulting in the Recession of 1937. He prolonged the Depression by doing what the Republicans wanted him to do. The inertia of the Republican criticism became a dead-end ideology that substituted for governance. In office, they attended to their ideology, but never got around to running our country.

Now we, Democrats, Progressives, Bloggers are in the same boat. We’ve been out of power for a long enough time to have created a culture of criticism ourselves. I’m a part of that. I’m so full of what Reagan, Bush[s], and Cheney have done wrong that it’s hard for me to think clearly about what’s right anymore. And like most, I’ve been horrified by the infusion of bigotry and religious demagogery into our political discourse in the recent years – anti-homosexuality, pro-life arguments, anti-science, anti-immigrant, anti-other, free-market economy as rape. So it’s easy to have a Progressive inertia of criticism. I want our team to win too.

But I voted for Barack Obama, in part, because he doesn’t seem to be so caught up in the divisive dichotomy that the Republican/Conservative idiots have lived off of for such a long time. I wish he hadn’t thought that including Rick Warren in his Inauguration would bring us together. I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought it would meet his goal of trying to unite us, but I doubt it will do that. I’m not mad about it. It’s just a mistake, that’s all. I would prefer that he make that kind of mistake than the other kind – marginalize large groups of Americans. Homosexuals have been marginalized for all time and that’s a bad thing. But I don’t want to marginalize Christians Zealots either. I just want them out of control of our government. And if Rick Warren has any sense at all, he’ll give a prayer of uniting that we need to hear.

I think that there is a pitfall for the Democrat/Progressive/Blogger Community. We’ve come into being as an oppositional party – filled with daily criticism of the "wing-nuts." We have, in some good ways, become the "Oversight" that disappeared from the government when Bush et al came into office – locked into battle with the forces of darkness. But it would be very easy for us to micromanage Obama’s every decision too – and become like the Republicans – a culture of negative inertia rather than a strong political force that actually is "progressive." Our enemy right now is not Obama. It’s still the forces of irresponsibility – Coulter, Malkin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Rove, Bohner, Chambliss – the people who are still generating negative Talking Points and filling the airways with a renewed enthusiasm. Nay-saying is their bread and butter – not ours. It’s fine to let Obama know when he makes mistakes. But to join in the critical din coming from the other side is not what we’re about…
    December 29, 2008 | 11:42 AM

    Re the Rick Warren prayer: I’m predicting that he will not only speak about unity but that he will say something inclusive about gays and lesbians. I just hope he is savvy enough to know that “love the sinner, hate the sin” is NOT the way to express it.

    I think it was a miscalculation that Obama didn’t realize the symbolism to the gay community. Or maybe he did but thought it would be balanced by Joseph Lowery’s giving the benediction. Even though, as some have said, it’s just a prayer, he’s not putting him in charge of social policy; still — it is a spotlight like none other.

    He is something of a transition — maybe therefore a bridge — between his fellow evangelical preachers and progressives. His theology is draconian: until the current furor, his church’s web site proclaimed that those who are unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle cannot be members. They have since removed it from the web site.

    On the other hand, he has been supportive of gay civil rights, he says he has personal friends who are gay, and his opposition to Prop8 was rather weak. He released a statement supporting it on a Friday night just before the election. Unlike Dobson whose organization gave half a million dollars (and has since had to lay off more than 30 staff members for financial reasons) and unlike the Mormons who plowed millions into it — Warren did not actively campaign for Prop8.

    For an evangelical preacher to oppose gay marriage would be astounding; even Obama and most of our favorite politicians also do. So let’s hope that he will be that bridge. Maybe this will all lead to a high level White House task force, where people like Warren sit down with leaders from the gay community. Nothing changes prejudices like getting to know people personally. And there is prejudice on both sides. I clearly think the greater prejudice is practiced by THEM. But wouldn’t they say the same?

    December 29, 2008 | 11:45 AM

    Correction: in the above last paragraph, the first line should read:

    “For an evangelical preacher to SUPPORT gay marriage would be astounding.”

    I guess it felt unnatural to put ‘preacher’ and ‘support gay marriage’ in the same sentence.

    December 29, 2008 | 4:59 PM

    Addendum: I just went to the Saddleback Church website and found, in the FAQ section, Warren answers the question about homosexuality; and he does say that homosexuals who do not repent of their “sexual sin” cannot be members of this church.

    But it’s a little more nuanced than that sounds. Being a “member” of the church, he says, means living in a community with others who are living by the teachings of the Bible. And he says that the Bible says homosexuality is a “sexual sin,” just as adultery is a sexual sin.

    Apparently they take “membership” in Saddleback very seriously; and he’s clear to distinguish it from being welcomed to attend services. Anyone is welcome to attend; but to be a member means making a commitment to live your life according to Biblical teachings — and they drop people from membership when they don’t live up to that commitment. He says people who have been engaged in “sinful financial dealings” or those “living in adultery” may also not be members.

    Not my cup of tea — but it makes it all seem a little less gay-discriminatory and more a matter of “narrow are the gates.”

    December 30, 2008 | 7:52 AM

    I’m not happy with Warren but I think he’ll do his best to include all people in his prayer. Who knows maybe this experience will be a eye opener for him for the better.

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