Friday, August 21, 2009

Phenomenon of Right Wing Patriotism

As a caveat beforehand, the following diatribe does not apply to all Republicans or conservatives. But the blather and lather of the recent weeks has gotten my dander up. For now in these hot days is the mad blood stirring.............

Can you remember those halcyon days of the Bush Administration, when anyone questioning the President was someone who was a traitor, unAmerican, or was giving "aid and comfort" to our national enemies? When Ari Fleischer said that Americans had to watch what they said and did? When people in powerful positions equated supporting the President and his policies with supporting troops in the field, as if they were one in the same, and that policy decisions could not be seriously discussed because it might damage the military's morale, and therefore lead to our inexorable defeat in a fight against a foe that was out to destroy the very fabric of the nation?

Have we come a long way, baby.

Back then people were using inflammatory language to describe our President. This much is true. Hey, it wasn't like he was actually elected or anything when the decision came to invade a sovereign nation posing no threat to us. But those of us even somewhat left of Barry Goldwater were routinely smeared as traitors, and it was a dark time for those of us who did not think the invasion of Iraq was so dandy. Family events were not a lot of fun, let me tell you.

But now we have a President who was elected by near landslide, carrying states no one thought in their wildest or worst dreams he would, who ran on a ticket of, among other things, health care reform, and he is now being compared to Hitler on a routine basis for trying to change the way health care is handled.

His life is threatened regularly, explicitly and implicitly. People show up to rallies over health care openly carrying weapons, as if there is some dovetail betwixt the divergent issues of gun rights and health care, and they act as if they are making some sort of valid point. There was a man with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder in a crowd, which is not very responsible handling of that weapon. We see a man sloppily carrying a handgun in a haphazard fashion, his holster flopping all over, holding a [seemingly professionally made] sign reading "It is time to water the tree of liberty." I am as big a proponent of the Second Amendment as there is, but these yahoos make the rest of us look really bad.

Water the tree of liberty? With what, sir? The blood of tyrants? Or patriots? It is not as if the President is proposing legislation to permit the FBI to rifle your personal belongings without a warrant, or to detain American citizens indefinitely without charges or trial. The last one did, though.

Right wingers have openly cursed [Old Testament style] their elected leaders over fictitious fears, such as these inane "death panels." A woman actually asked a gay Jew why he supports "Nazi policies," just like the mixed race President "expressly" does. It makes me wish there were actual Nazi policies being proposed so I could get mad at them. Something like raising the terrorist threat level three days before an election for none other than political purposes. But I digress.

So where is all that right wing patriotism, that jingoistic fervor to support the elected President? It is not as if there aren't nearly 200,000 American troops afield in combat zones. It is not as if there is not a wider war not being fought in the original battleground against Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, as well as a war now being fought openly for the first time in Pakistan against those same fundamentalist Islamic groups.

So what gives?

Some might say it has to do with bailouts, or government control of this or that industry, or Federal spending. Hogwash. Nobody minded when the government was tapping phones without a warrant, [and not catching anybody engaging in international terrorist plots, I might add]. Nobody minded when the government decided to open a prison for the express purpose of circumventing the Constitution. Nobody seemed to mind the trillion dollar layout for the invasion of Iraq, nor that its full financial effect was kept off the balance sheet by funding it through supplemental spending bills outside of the astronomical defense budget [already 1/6-1/4 of the Federal budget]. Nobody minded when billions in cash went missing and unaccounted for. No one minded when cronies enriched cronies on the taxpayer's dime. No one on the right cried foul when the President sought to privatize Social Security, shunting trillions to private investment firms to handle, and none of them have wiped their brow and said we dodged that bullet. And no one screamed bloody murder when the Medicare Part-D plan came out and it was legislated that the Federal government, then wholly run by the GOP, would not use its massive leverage and negotiate lower prices for pharmaceuticals.

And no one thought that the Veterans Administration [Walter Reed aside], or Medicare, or Medicaid was run so bad before this. There are plenty of vets and pensioners who do alright, and will continue to do alright. They see their doctors of choice, get the care they want, and are happy about. But then they show up to town hall meetings and scream that government run health care is unAmerican socialism.

So what gives?

I am loathe to say it. Perhaps this has to do with less of the content of a man's character..........

But I won't finish the sentence. I want to believe that there is a good faith basis behind all this screaming and jumping up and down. I want to give my fellow American the benefit of the doubt, even though he didn't give it to me 6 years ago. I want to think we have become a better nation over the decades, notwithstanding how the electoral map is conveniently colored to reflect not this century, but the century before last.

But to be fair to me I want conservatives to take a minute, or ten, or an hour, and search their hearts. Find out what is at their core; what is driving them to these extremes. Why are they willing to believe the absolute worst. To examine the content of their own character, and their recent past, and what is at the center of their beliefs.

Because I cannot believe all this anger is about universal health care, public options, or potential tax increases.

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