Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dissent Is No Longer The Highest Form of Patriotism

There was much to like about President Obama's inaugural address, and for the sore winner neer-do-wells I do happen to think the election of an African American to the highest office in the land is a good thing.

However, I found this part of the president's speech troubling.


On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.

Sorry, no sale.

Do those who worked and voted for Obama, and savaged George W. Bush for eight years think their disagreements with him childish, are they to now toss out their dogmas?

This is the one central conceit of Obama's allure, which has bothered me from the beginning. By labeling disagreement the way he does he delegitimizes it. Indeed at the outset of his campaign he said divisiveness was his chief opponent, and his campaign outfit fought it with a cunning ruthlessness.

I wrote about this very theme while flaying an inane (is there any other kind) Baltimore Sun editorial.

...Please tell me how speaking in vapid platitudes about change and unity will lead to a “new political era” of bipartisanship? Will electing “The One” magically make all our political differences disappear overnight? Of course not. What the Sun, and others who preach this tripe, are really saying is that we knuckle dragging troglodyte conservatives must give up our beliefs and accede to their wishes, or—gasp—we are divisive; enemies of unity, change, hope, and all good things..

...democracy is fundamentally about disagreement i.e., partisanship. You could eliminate all political parties, but our basic philosophical differences would remain. The founders created a system of government (checks and balances and protection of minority rights) specifically designed to diffuse the very type of unity, which Obama claims as his highest value...

Obama’s demonization, of those who dare to criticize him, as “divisive” is in reality, nothing more than Obama practicing, in disguise, the very type of politics he claims to abhor.


Disagreement and partisanship are a part of human nature, they shape our politics and make for a healthy civic life. Labeling them out of bounds to stifle dissent won't make them go away.

Will all those, who caterwauled about the muzzling of dissent--usually on MSNBC or the pages of the New York Times--during the previous administration, still consider dissent the highest form of patriotism?

10 comments:

warpmine said...

I just remember HRC's sppeech about this very thing. "We have a right to disagree with this administration."

What will the witch say now, I can't wait to her repeal of those words.

Daniel said...

And let us not forget those times (just how numerous) that their website, Change.gov, was 'revised' to change their history so it 'matches' current policy?

The Right Miller said...

Colin Powell said this recently:

"We're supposed to be a partisan country. That's the way the founding fathers intended for us to move forward," he said.

"People have strong views on both sides of an issue. Argue it out. Fight it out, just like they did in that summer of 1787 when they were writing the Constitution -- and then ultimately both sides make compromises in order to achieve consensus, and then you move the country forward."

Swamp Thing said...

To be fair, it can't be much stronger or much more ignorant than, "You're either with the president, or you're with the terrorists," which I (a patriot, gun-owner, etc, etc) had to hear ad nauseum from 2001 to 2006, before even the folks in the Republican Party realized how dangerous that statement was.

Patriotism was used in the wake of 9/11 to promote all kinds of bastardizations of civil liberties that would have made the founders roll in their graves. And that was just fine with Republicans. You all had no problem with it then. "We have no time for dissent - we are at war."

How do those (and the hundreds of other similarly bizarre statements) differ from the (well-known) closed-mindedness of Reid, Pelosi, et al?

I would argue that they don't differ, except that the Reds don't agree with the Reid & Pelosi cabal.

How is it wrong to disagree with a President? I fought that battle with friends and family for the last 8 years, and unfortunately, you guys may now have to fight it.

Under vastly expanded presidential and vice-presidential powers....be careful what you wish for. Biden with as much power as Cheney - it's scary, isn't it? Did no one imagine that possibility when Cheney was hard at work? No one?

streiff said...

I've got to say that this is among the most profoundly and willfully ignorant arguments I've read in 6 years of blogging.

No one of any consequence ever said "you're with the president or with the terrorists." Erosions of civil liberties? Like what? Interfering with your ability to talk to a terrorist overseas?

You guys were not to be found when Congress actually outlawed civil disobedience as a tactic to prevent the killing of infants but you crawl out of the woodwork to complain when the government sets about killing islamofascists.

As to Cheney vs Biden. Biden is a glib imbecile. I'm not worried. Then again, I wasn't worried under Cheney and as I wasn't swept up from home and hearth and sent to a prison camp it looks like I was right, and as you similarly avoided that fate you now sound pretty much like an asshat.

This is not a Ron Paul friendly site. We don't believe in the New World Order or ZOG and we don't give a whole lot of credibility black helicopters and such. So I don't think we're a good fit for you.

Anonymous said...

How many tomes have Republicans defended Bush with the blanket non-defence "...you're only giving aid and comfort to the enemy."

All just to keep him bullet proof for a period of time.

That didn't work.

When Obama spoke he wasn't threatening critics, he was inviting cooperation and collaberation.

it doesn't surprise me that Newgent can't see the difference.

streiff said...

The short answer is zero, unless you're talking about the times recruiting stations were vandalized, and ROTC students were harassed, and lefties protested with signs hailing the "heroes of Fallujah" -- and they weren't talking about the USMC -- and the times the Democrats tried to cut off funding to ensure a victory by the enemy in a war which has been clearly proven to be winnable.

The fact that you can't understand Mark's point is your problem, not that of any other reader of English.

Swamp Thing said...

If that's the most ignorant...wait..."profoundly and willfully ignorant" thing you've read in 6 years of blogging (what kind of accolade is that, btw?), you really should read more!

But since you brought up "ignorance," let's clarify: essentially your response to my "profoundly ignorant" argument is that:

1) You and I personally were not wiretapped, prosecuted, shipped offshore for detention, etc, so obviously "it's not that bad."

2) We don't have to worry about Biden's VP office, with expanded powers post-Cheney, interfering with CIA activities, individual rights, etc. because Biden is an imbecile, and is thus incapable of using these powers for ill purposes that Republicans might find unconstitutional. You're comfortable with that.

3) Since the nation, and the conservative movement, is in such OUTSTANDING shape, I am an "asshat" for bringing up any constitutional concern or issue other than how we can end legal abortion. How's that battle going?

4) "No one of importance ever said that." So, just the White House Press Secretary, and then repeated ad nauseum by Rush, SH, BOR, etc, etc. But it's "no one of consequence" so you don't want to saddle Republicans, or Bush, with that statement. But I'm ignorant for bringing it up.

If reasoning like yours is the backbone of the new GOP, and not an outlier...I fear that the conservative movement is in for a long, dark night.

Willfully ignorant...that's what I am. So just disregard - I'm just a conservative voter. I'm sure the GOP doesn't need me, or anyone else like me.

streiff said...

1. Yes, that's about the size of it. You may have a "right" to privacy under various penumbras and emanations but no one has ever claimed you have a right to anonymity. I'm not in prison because I haven't committed a crime. I've had by bank transactions monitored for years. I've been fingerprinted in order to hold my current job. I've had to take random urinalysis. I've had to take polygraphs. It would seem to me that you'd be exercised over what a lot of Americans have had to do for decades rather than getting your thong all knotted up over the decision by a handful of people to consort with other people who are trying to kill us. But I'm not a "real conservative" so I'll just never understand that.

2. There was no expansion of powers under Cheney which is the reason I'm not worried about Biden. The fact that Biden is an imbecile is simply icing on the cake.

3. You didn't bring up any constitutional concern that would be recognized as such outside dKos or LewRockwell.com.

4. The White House never said that. Period. You are simply making that bit up but transforming a post 9-11 warning to countries harboring terrorists into something else. I guess shame isn't something that affects you much, eh?

5. If you can't agree that offing 1 million+ babies each year is a national disgrace then we really have nothing to talk about.

6. I don't claim to represent the views of anyone but myself. I will say this, I'd rather lose elections than toady to people who believe what you do.

Swamp Thing said...

See, THAT was a worthy and humbling response. You took ownership of your own views, intellectually provided a counter-attack to what I claimed were "facts", and called into question a serious issue, which can be debated into eternity - how many more abortions are there now, vs. pre RvW?

You're right, I'm less concerned about whether abortion is legal, more concerned about why it's necessary or acceptable in our society at all (except in the cases of blah blah blah, etc etc), but I'm most concerned that our government is FUNDING IT without really addressing the social causes BEHIND it. At the very least, PPH is a tax-exempt org...so in my opinion...we're funding it.

Thank you for a well thought out response. I'm willing to be corrected...just not demeaned. You're not the only one out here, you know.

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