Bipartisan: That advocated by two political parties.
Compromise: An adjustment for settlement by arbitration and mutual concession, usually involving a partial surrender of purposes or principles.
Empathy: ability to share in another’s emotions or feelings.
Compassion: Sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another.
Consensus: An opinion held by all or most; general agreement especially in opinion.
Polarization: To separate into diametrically opposed, often antagonistic groups, viewpoints etc.
“One half of the American population wishes to kill the other half and no one can tell which from which.”
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke with due respect to Mr. Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain.
“We have to kill the Claire Bear ladies and gentlemen. She walks around like she’s some sort of Rainbow Brite Care Bear or something but really she’s an evil monster.”
Republican Activist Scott Boston on Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Mr. Boston later said his comment wasn’t meant as a threat. Yet the purpose was to “erase misconceptions of her having a feel-good persona.” There is a great deal of distance between having a “feel good persona” and being an “evil monster.” One might ask Mr. Boston how people could ever confuse a nice person with an evil monster.
“We shall not have any coarse [sic] but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November, said Ponch McPhee, a Virginia Conservative Republican writing in his Republican County newsletter. Mr. McPhee characterized President Obama an “ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized.”
This fails to recognize President Obama as being an American who is on our side and not that of terrorists or criminals. The lack of acceptance of that most basic idea of a representative democracy where the results of elections are accepted by the population is not present here.
Republican Conservative Maine Governor Frank La Page told the State’s residents who were unemployed to “get off the couch and find a job.” Here, the unemployed are assumed to be naturally lazy and unwilling to work.
Some level of basic human compassion for people who have repeatedly put resumes out into the flagging job market and gone to countless interviews only not to be offered a job that can meaningfully support them in the wake of the worst economic depression since the 1930’s is absent from La Page’s comment. And that comment was offered as a harangue against the unemployed at a Republican meeting with a certain degree of venom.
State Treasurer Richard Mourdock unseated Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, known for 36 years for his bipartisanship and statesmanship on a number of issues. “Just yesterday, France elected a socialist,” said Mourdock. “There are those I’m sure in the administration in the left side of the Democratic Party that were cheering for that. But we’re not going to stand for that in Indiana because the supporters of Barack Obama are not going to win!”
It was odd that Mourdock had not cheered the election of Ellmonde in France as representing the triumph of a fair, free, and democratic election in France and that we rejoice that France is a U.S. ally and that we are reminded that France is not a Communist totalitarian government hostile to the United States.
Lugar’s response was to issue a long statement in which he said “We are experiencing deep political divisions in our society right now, and these divisions have stalemated progress in critical areas. But these divisions are not insurmountable and I believe that people of goodwill, regardless of party can work together for the benefit of our country.”
Mourdock, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program said he views his coming role as the new Senator from Indiana is to get Democrats to adopt Republican views. He said nothing about reaching out to Democrats to incorporate some of their ideas in what we do as Americans to move the nation toward common goals. Mourdock’s very definition of bipartisanship was Democrats becoming Republicans and acting with them to put in place conservative Republican laws. Just where the Democratic Party fits in here is excluded from bipartisanship.
House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview earlier this year that he detested and even refused to recognize the word “compromise.” Politics has been correctly defined as the art of compromise. It is increasingly apparent that this is a lost art.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the nation in 2010 that amidst depression, joblessness and home foreclosures the Republican Party was focused entirely on defeating President Obama in the November 2012 national election. Wouldn’t it have been great if he had said his party would outdo Democrats in creating jobs for Americans and getting the economy humming.
Two years ago, Republican Conservative Sharon Angle almost unseated Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader, and a Democrat in Nevada. Her main idea was that if Republicans had failed to win the election of 2010 that “Second Amendment Remedies” would be applied and in the same long sentence that Senator Reid had to be “taken out.”
Ted Nugent, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association told convention participants in St. Louis last month that by this November he would either be dead or in jail if President Obama were returned to office for a second term. The threat was sufficiently real for the Secret Service to visit with Nugent to make sure he poses no threat to the life of the President.
Representative Allen West, a conservative Republican from Florida has accused 81 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, all Democrats of being Communists. Those people are ultra-liberal and diametrically opposed to the views of West but they remain loyal Americans who are committed to a strong and safe United States of America. West’s failure to recognize that is disturbing.
For the past three years and more now, the Tea Party, the Republican Party (now indistinguishable from each other) and conservatives generally, have painted President Obama as illegitimate and not legally authorized to govern the country as its President. He, and anyone like him, is painted as “the other”, the stranger or outsider, and someone who holds dangerous ideas that threaten America.
The Michelle Bachmann greeting at many campaign stops that she is proud to be with people who value and carry their bibles and guns not giving precedence to either.
Longtime moderate Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine has announced she is leaving the U.S. Senate and after a week of speculation why made it clear that the disappearance of political moderates from the American political scene was the reason.
Moderation, compromise, consensus, bipartisanship, compassion, empathy, liberal, have all become dirty words in the America of the early twenty-first century.
I came into this world in 1955 into a family of moderate Eisenhower Republicans. I grew up seeing adults around me compromise and work together to solve the nation’s problems. I did have to suffer through the racial tensions of the Civil Rights years and Vietnam and Watergate. But despite it all, our nation’s leaders set a tone where we ultimately came to respect one another and to have consideration for one another as Americans first, before we attacked each other as being outside the American family represented by the United States of America.
We have lost our way. I think it is quite easily discernible that fear and hate animate too many people these days. Instead of manfully and with a woman’s compassionate sensitivity standing up to the nation’s problems and the intense greed, avarice, and venomous hatred and fear of the American political landscape, we have given in to our most base instincts. It disgusts me. I fully reject what too many of our leaders, especially on the conservative side, are doing to poison and polarize the political atmosphere.
A great deal of the problem is that America has been changing. No longer are we solely a Judeo-Christian white nation. The Republican Party has largely become older, white, more conservative, and resistant to the growing racial, ethnic, and religious diversity of twenty-first century America.
If Muslim infiltration and Sharia law, a Marxist and foreign President Obama born in a foreign country, lots of brown skinned immigrants, women who want to control their reproduction and be healthy, truly threaten us in the manner that so many on the far right argue with such vehemence, then liquidating and imprisoning, and marginalizing the other half of the population that is open to these societal and demographic changes makes perfect sense. Yet, finding the moral and just and rightness of this is an impossibility. It is simply wrong: immoral and evil and terrible to contemplate. But that is right where we are now in 2012.
The political polarization of the nation has reached such proportions that our form of government is unworkable. We must face the distinct possibility that our democracy and the fundamental founding principle of the nation that “all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” has failed. What was tested in the time of Lincoln and the American Civil War is being tested yet again and found wanting.
This central idea, so quintessentially American, has been re-defined and re-shaped by Republican Tea Party conservatives to mean that these natural rights accrue only to white Anglo, Euro-Americans of great wealth and position in American society and not to masses of people who have joined the American experiment in democracy over the last thirty years or so. It is a fearful and hateful response to changing conditions that they refuse to permit or respect.
It can be readily observed that liberal Democrats are not holding up their end when it comes to making death threats and refusing to compromise on what they believe. Those people seem overly concerned with the most vulnerable parts of our population, those who are different from the white Anglo majority, and keeping opportunity for the great mass of the American people alive.
So right-wing Republican ideologues have your way. Do what you will. If bibles, guns, and a distinctly retrogressive America is what you wish to fashion now, then do so. If you must imprison or kill or marginalize those of us who stand opposite from your worldview and there is no longer compromise or a compassionate humanity that is central to the American ethos, we’ll have to stand up for it on our own and damn the consequences.
We of the other half refuse to fear. We refuse to hate. We must love and care for all human beings. Yes we love you too. As Jesus of Nazareth taught: they can kill the body but they cannot take or own your soul. That belongs to God. If killing me or locking me up for being a Democratic-Socialist ultra-liberal social justice Christian is what you must do then I take up my cross and it is done.
One half of Americans want to kill the other half and no one can tell which from which.” As it turns out we can. Those of us committed to social justice and progressive social change that reflects not only Christian love but a compassionate humanity stand opposed to those of you who are animated by fear and hate and the need to have power and control. We do so rejecting what animates you. We act with non-violence and the calm assurance that we are standing with truth, moral right, and justice on our side.
How can we fear any man or woman when we are blessed with a soul that the Holy Spirit of God inhabits? You may kill our bodies, but you can never control our souls. We will not judge you by what you think or do. But some higher power that supports justice certainly will. It is shameful and disappointing to see the spite-filled polarized political discourse of our day.
As Theodore Roosevelt said in 1912, “We stand at Armageddon and battle for the Lord.”
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
for Struggles for Justice