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The Starting Line


Ian Rock at American Thinker:

Obama fans seem to give you the same general answer. Mostly, it has something to do with this charisma. If you want a good example check out a recent interview George Clooney gave explaining his reason; you get the same JFK personality "thing."

To me, it's like you are all voting for Obama because of some unexplainable aura he exudes. Everyone is swooning over this almost mysterious attraction he exudes. "Electric" is another word I have been hearing. Call it what you will; let's just call it his innate charisma.

I understand that some of you are voting for Obama for reasons other than his charisma. But, as I watch the size of your group swell before my very eyes (literally every refresh shows another five to ten more supporters) I am becoming more alarmed by your thought processes, and less convinced that you know what an Obama presidency will actually look like.

History shows that it was exactly this kind of thinking which allowed charismatic leaders like Adolf Hitler to take power. Extreme? For sure. But, it is a relevant comparison when looking at large groups of people being swayed to act for all the wrong reasons.
Let's dispense with that regrettable final paragraph first, so we can go on to talk about the more serious point.

Adolph Hitler was quite specific. He had lots of plans. Germans who supported him were not surprised when he re-armed, took a pugnacious tone with France and Britain, and oppressed Jews. Mein Kampf was in the local Barnes und Noble.

But setting that aside, let's talk about Obama "groupies" and what we hope for from Mr. Obama.

What we hope for is an opportunity not to coalesce around a specific issue, but around the idea that we are Americans first. We hope for a chance to demonstrate that we are not merely dozens of interest groups, that we are not this color or that, this religion or that, this ideology or that.

We hope, in short, for an end to the Atwater-Clinton-Rove style of politics. We don't see that as an end, but as a beginning. Do we know precisely where we hope to end up? No. We don't. But we know from where we've been forced to start for many, many decades now. We've been forced to start divided. We've been forced to start fractured, split, manipulated. And we're tired of it. We're sick to death of it.

We don't know where the road will lead. But we know where we want to start. We want to start off Americans first. We want to be together before we are separated again by political differences. Is that really so hard to understand? Is it really so contemptible that we want, at least for a while, to stop being angry at each other, stop despising each other?

Note that I say that, "We don't know where the road will lead." I don't say that we don't know where Mr. Obama will lead us. It's less about what Mr. Obama will do, than what he will allow us to do.

As conservatives point out, it isn't government that makes this country great, it's the people. In recent years governments, both Republican and Democrat, have profited by turning us against each other. Well, we're onto that game. The media has profited by portraying us as little segments, bits and pieces, all angry, all irrational and demanding. We're on to that game, too.

Politics has stopped being about solving problems. It's stopped being about ideas over which we can disagree civilly. Politics has become mean, narrow and trivial, a game of insult and gotcha, a game of deliberate distortion. It has lost all genuine intellectual content. It is sound and fury signifying nothing.

It poisons us.

We want to regroup. We want to remember who we are.

So where we hope Mr. Obama will lead us to is not the promised land, but to the starting line. Given the opportunity, we will take it from there.

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“The Starting Line”

  1. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    I share your desire for less acrimony and bitterness in politics and American life. But it didn't start with Atwater, Clinton or Rove. It goes all the way back to the beginning (at least to Jefferson and Hamilton) and it's been with us all along. Perhaps it's worse than it's been in recent memory, or perhaps it seems that way due to 24/7 news cycles and pervasive media.

    One of things that's appealing about Obama is how he really seems to be making an effort not to stoop to the same level, sling mud, or rely on dirty tricks and negative ads. But that doesn't mean he doesn't know how to play the game, either. If it's really about our unity as Americans, let's put an end to thinly-veiled racist conspiracy theories and the politics of resentment and paranoia. Just because you say it with a smile doesn't mean the ideas aren't ugly and destructive.

  2. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    I don't deny that American politics has frequently been nasty. But this is all meta-nastiness a nastiness deliberately created by the political and media classes for political and economic reward.

    I don't have a problem with heated divisions over important issues. But all American politics is played inside the 40 yard line. Our real divisions are minuscule. The degree of meanness, and the consequent paralysis, are out of all proportion to the actual divisions.

    As for race-baiting, I don't think Obama is the one to blame for that. I don't see where in the piece you cite at your blog Michelle Obama mentions race? Does she? It seems to me that she's talking about working class people. And her lament over lower middle and middle class people is repeated everywhere, by all candidates.

    As for the bar not changing, sorry, but it has. Medical expenses have skyrocketed, not just in absolute terms, but in relative terms as well. A person has to spend a whole lot more today to get care for his kids than he did 30 years ago. If the pie isn't any bigger, but the slice that goes to medical doubles in size, then you can't pretend things haven't changed.

  3. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    No argument on the first two paragraphs.

    Does she have to mention race for it to be a racially-motivated charge? She's a black woman speaking to a black audience (as best as can be determined) and speaking about failed public schools and somebody "moving the bar" and keeping people like her down.

    But if you don't want to believe that it's racially motivated, it's at least an ugly and resentful class warfare, based on the charge that somebody is cheating and keeping me from getting ahead. So instead of white people keeping regular folks down, it's what -- evil corporations? Top-hatted plutocrats? And what does any of that have to do with failed public schools? How is somebody to blame for moving that bar?

    It's true enough that medical costs have risen -- as have the quality of medical care and our expectations for length and quality of life. We're asking the system to do more than it did, with one hand tied behind its back and a malpractice attorney knocking at the door. So who's moved that bar? And how is Obama going to fix it?

    And even if the piece going to health care is bigger, it's simply not true that the pie isn't larger. Even ignoring the fantastic success of the Obamas, average people earn more, live in better homes, live longer, and have more opportunities and disposable income than ever.

    Obama wants to move beyond political nastiness and gridlock. Great. But he's trying to do it by using another kind of nastiness, along with paranoia and the language of victimhood and conspiracy to do it. He does it with a smile, and tells us we can't do it ourselves, but he can lead us into the promised land.

    People criticize Bush for fear mongering and waving the flag to silence debate and push through his solutions to problems. How is this any different (other than Obama being a better speaker and playing on different fears and resentments)?

    This is what it means to unite America? No thanks.