President Obama, in describing Republican obstruction, once told a crowd that if he said puppies are cute, Republicans would say no. Now, of course, that would not happen. Republicans would say that it was great to see the cute puppies owned by "Real Americans" as opposed to those elitist breed owned by the liberals. I was thinking about that this morning as I read Tom Friedman's column in the New York Times.
I know that I'm not supposed to admit to still reading Friedman this many Friedman units after Iraq, but occasionally I want to see what he's got to say. Today's piece had a good point that I think is relevant. He was talking about the Middle East where he is an "expert." However, I think his idea translates well to U.S. politics. Friedman spoke of arsonists and firefighters. Arsonists are dividing people and causing trouble, while firefighters solve problems and bring people together.
Friedman writes of the Middle East : These societies need to go from being governed by iron fists “to iron institutions that are legitimate, inclusive and accountable." He quotes Nader Mousavizadeh a former Senior UN official. That is the problem. American arsonists are burning down those three pillars of our institutions. Please follow below as I'll try to explain.
It should come as no surprise that I see the American arsonists as belonging to the Wrong (I refuse to call them the Right). Republicans make no bones about how they feel about government, they're against it. They believe that it is an American value to be against government. I don't know which Declaration of Independence they read, but mine says that governments are instituted among men to secure the unalienable rights of the citizens.
So, they do what they can to deligitimize the institution of government when it is not run by conservatives. When President Obama won in 2008, the Wrong criticized every policy by saying that this was not "the change" people voted for. When they won the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, then the President needed to listen to the American People. Thus, as they burn down the pillar of legitimacy, they also burn down the pillar of inclusivity.
The Wrongs are constantly talking about how the Left wants to divide people and play identity politics. Yet think about what I like to call the "Nobody told me My Flight would be delayed" phenomenon, and the "My son is gay" protocol. You may recall that when the sequester first went into effect, thousands of flights were delayed. There was such and uproar that Congress held hearings. The head of the FAA told them that he had warned them that the cuts would result in delays throughout the system. One particular elected official said, and I's paraphrasing hear, "well, Lah-di-dah, of course there are delays!" as if "throughout the system" meant in "blue states." Republicans also seem to support equality for gay people as soon as they learn of a family member afflicted with teh gay (Liz Cheney being a notable exception).
Then there were the Republicans who shut down the government, and along with it the Parks that it operates. They then went and yelled at the Park Rangers for carrying out the shut-down required by their votes.
When Paul Ryan (R-Wis) passed his Medicare Voucher program, he went on all the talk shows and proudly told the pundits that when older people find out his cuts won't hurt THEM, they're fine with that. Who, exactly, is being divisive?
There is a reason why arsonists are especially dangerous- fires spread in unpredictable ways. That is why we put them out. Recall the story of Gene Granick, the Tennessee homeowner who had failed to pay a $75 dollar annual fee for the fire department. When his home caught fire, they told him they could not put the fire out. His neighbor's house eventually caught fire and they put that part of it out. People on the Wrong still think he is a loser who got what he deserved. If it had been they're house, I bet they'd change their tune.
Now the arsonists are upset that Senator Cochran won his runoff with Chris McDaniel. I will stipulate that he gamed the system to win by asking African Americans to cross party lines and vote for him in the runoff. However, this was completely within the rules. Gerrymandering is within the rules. Creating voter ID laws that allow ID that many Republicans have (NRA membership) and disallow ID (Student ID) that may favor Democratic voters is being written into the rules. Keeping polling places open in Republican leaning counties while closing them in Democratic leaning districts might be within the rules. Trying to apportion electoral votes based on proportionality in blue states and winner take all in red states could be within the rules.
I cringe when I hear Wrongs talk about America as a Christian nation. Not just because I am Jewish. It offends me. When they pat themselves on the back as real Americans, I think- F U so am I. Some people got upset recently because a law they passed to allow parents to use vouchers to send their kids to Catholic schools was being used to allow Muslim parents to pay for Muslim schools.
Puppies are cute. Republican puppies, Democratic puppies, Muslim puppies, Jewish puppies, Christian puppies. I believe in equality for all. The Wrongs (Republicans) are the arsonists.