Posted by By at 15 April, at 12 : 41 PM Print

This is an analysis I have been writing and re-writing for over 6 months now. It is in many ways the sum total of my frustration with the majority of the political process, with blame enough to go around – even to myself. You see I was not always as circumspect as I am now.

In the heady days of my (and the internet’s) youth, I was one of the first true right wing “Clinton hating conspiracy theorists.” I engaged in the type of speculation that now makes me cringe, and it would be silly not to admit that, in some small way, those acts helped us toward the nadir of political demagoguery in which we now wallow.

At least I hope this the nadir – but every time I think the American people have had enough, some how we tolerate the nonsense and we sink a little deeper in the ooze. We sit back and let entertainers get rich off of dividing us, and we let politicians gain and hold power by scaring us into inaction. No side is blameless, and no one is seemingly willing to risk unilaterally standing down rhetorically so we can honestly engage in a debate about how we get where we need to be.

Before any Obama fans jump and say this is what the President wants, let me dissuade you from bothering; the President is a big part of the problem, evidenced by what I will call the “false truth” of the President’s “false choices;” you cannot define away a valid political position and then claim to be open to debate. More on that later.

And my fellow Republicans, don’t get too excited either. Because frankly, we’ve all gone a little nuts if we think we aren’t part and parcel to the demise of civility. I am a passionate believer in a fiscally conservative America that reduces the size of government, provides a robust national defense, and fosters an atmosphere of economic freedom that feeds growth. I do not think the ANY of the oxygen in our public discussions – at a time when unemployment is 8.8%, the debt out of control, gas headed toward $4 and more, and troops in three hot wars – should center around whether or not the President is a US citizen. He is. Donald, shut up and move on.

There are a lot of people assaulting our Republic in this manner – the Donald does not stand alone. We are in the midst of one of the most dangerous moments in world history – debt is at international all time highs, food prices continue to rise, the Middle East grows more unstable by the day and Japan is teetering on the brink of catastrophe – and yet at critical junctures we seem hell bent on tearing ourselves apart rather than coming together to find a common path forward to prosperity.

Take April 4 of this year; April 4 is a sacred day to many of us, myself included. It marks a critical moment in our nation’s history, a moment when tragically a man was martyred, but whose death served to help make us one nation. Two generations later his sacrifice paved the way for a more racially unified nation to elect the first African American President – a reality almost unimaginable to even the most hopeful dreams in 1968.

The anniversary of that date should be a moment we remember that and when we can celebrate the triumph of the American experiment. Unfortunately, like almost every other thing in our culture, it was corrupted for political gain.

Acting DNC Chair Donna Brazille used the opportunity to note “the climb to equality is always difficult, but in 2011, the budget fights on Capitol Hill and elsewhere are making the journey downright treacherous.” What climb, you ask? The climb to more unionized workers (and DNC contributors): “Republicans in Washington and state houses across the country have begun an attack on American freedoms, with assaults on organized labor and the right to vote.”

This is an abomination. Legitimately elected officials proposing policies you do not like are attacking “American Freedoms?” I wonder if Ms. Brazille is aware that liberal icon FDR opposed public sector unions all together?

Ms. Brazille tried to cover this in terms of MLK’s support of unions in the 1960s – which he did – to make it seem less crass. That might have worked had the DNC not used it as a way to fundraiser – showing it to be nothing more than demagoguery in seek of cheap points and low hanging dollars.

On the same day, Glenn Beck chose to open his (mercifully now cancelled) Fox News show ridiculing the President of the United States for sending a message of support to the democratically elected President of the Ivory Coast at a time when the fighting there and the atrocities being committed are unlike anything the European powers ever inflicted on each other. In his pseudo-intellectual mocking tone, the beastly Beck showed why he is a dangerous buffoon; he implies that the reason the President is supporting the change is because the President-elect is Muslim, and the man he is replacing is Christian.  The implication is as obvious as Beck’s agenda: the President, a closet Muslim, is helping Muslims take over the world to harm you.

I am not suggesting that I understand the complexity of the situation in the Ivory Coast; on the contrary, I know just enough to know that it’s far from ideal regardless who takes power. But I do know one thing is certain: what Beck did was not an intelligent critique of the President’s foreign policy – it was a craven attempt to garner more dollars by implying a connection that is beyond ridiculous. Beck is one of the worst people in this country now, by my estimation – not because he is so obviously wrong. He is so contemptible because he tries to claim to love America while at the same time he seeks to weaken it for profit.

There are legitimate foreign and defense policy debates to have with this administration; Beck doesn’t want that. He wants to use this fictional “emerging Islamic caliphate” to scare people into buying what I am sure is his next book due out mere months from now showing how Arab Spring was run out of Hollywood and financed by Soros with the goal of uniting the opium trade to kill Iowans. Hell – if I wrote that book he’d have me on as a guest and talk in earnest tones how “I have been telling you America. I have been telling you.”

Glenn – shut up and get off the stage. Take Donna Brazille, Keith Obermann and Donald Trump with you. These are serious times, and we need serious leaders. Stop using our fears and our uncertainty for your own short-term gain – and our Nation’s long-term detriment. Especially do not offend me by doing so under the guise of “Patriotism.”

The term Patriotism in the modern context has been misappropriated by politics of all stripes, replacing a loyalty to a land (and my neighbor) with a loyalty to a Party (or an agenda). A fervent belief that “Bush Lied People Died” is not Patriotism; neither is blind adherence to any President. Anyone who uses Patriotism as a weapon against a countryman is no American Patriot; and any person who assaults a policy or position based on who said it is likewise no leader or statesman.

You see, we are being divided – not to be conquered, but rather to be fleeced. Glenn Beck and Keith Obermann seek to divide us to sell us books and other drivel; Political operatives seek to divide us to raise money; and Politicians seek to divide us to gain or hold power.

The President is a big part of that. In his speech on Wednesday, he spent more time fear mongering a serious proposal by a co-equal branch of Government – and did so because it is politically advantageous.  The speech – which ironically can be read to be an indictment of the President’s own budget from just 8 weeks ago, and logically, of his own lack of leadership – is exactly what is wrong with our discourse.Rather than engage the issues, BHO started a class war. Rather than admit that we have to end Medicare as we know it to survive, he attacked Rep. Ryan for being courageous enough to do so.

That is the sad result of all of the demagoguery in the political sphere these days – we have been blinded to what is really at stake and we have so been so divided that we mistake compromise for defeat. The President knows that we cannot sustain our current posture – he admits as much – yet he shirks the actual job of leading and instead hides behind rhetoric and fear mongering. The House GOP caucus knows it has to give ground to the President to get a bill passed yet a faction cries foul when leadership does so.

Both sides do it – and that is the problem, not an acceptable excuse. The time is well past when we can afford this nonsense.

Both parties have enough smart people in their midst to know what we truly face. The problems are universally known – it’s the solutions we need to debate and to achieve. This will not happen by EITHER side dealing in absolutes or political rhetoric. This will not happen as long as well let the craven profiteers drive our discourse.

The price we pay for being radicalized by either extreme, the cost we bear for a political class that deals in absolutes, is paralysis and ultimate demise. Without compromise there can be no Republic.

Don’t believe me? All sides run to the Constitution for cover in these debates; perhaps they should study its history. For without the Great Compromise (or the Connecticut Compromise) they would not BE a Constitution. If there is no Constitution, there is no Republic.

For far too long we have let these hacks, charlatans and buffoons divide us for their own gain and our great nation’s detriment. We must end that now – that is, if we want the American Experiment to succeed.


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This post was written by:
- who has written 77 posts for Rock The Capital
Scott Paterno is an accomplished policy analyst and political consultant based in Hershey, PA. Mr. Paterno, never one to sit still, has practiced law, run for a house seat, and worked as lobbyist in Harrisburg and Washington. Paterno is Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Fund and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science. He is happily married with three children. - Email scottp

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