Saturday, August 20, 2011

On Patriots, Politicians and Citizenship

So, for nearly three years or so I've been marinating on, well, fuming over the turn of the political landscape since the last presidential election and susbsequent congressional election. In that time, as both a believer in Christ and an historian junior grade, I can't help but marvel at what has taken place. In my humble opinion what has materialized is equal parts amazing and baffling.

The emergence of the Tea Party movement(initially formed around the acronym, Taxed Enough Already)is a good place to start. Before President Obama even took the oath of office, elements of this movement were festering in the petrie dish of Ameircan politics through tax protests. Lets be clear about this, before the man even entered office, these concerned citizens were already in objection to his policies. Hmmm. Then, after January 20, 2009 their 'concern' turned to outrage with a steady supply of half truths and half baked conspiracy theories of a socialist take-over served up by the wizardry of Glenn Beck. Their influence has grown steadily and remarkably since then. To a degree, this is to be respected, for these 'patriots' have mustered the man and woman power to sustain a movement that has more people talking about the Constitution than I can recall despite my efforts as a history teacher. And this is my next point regarding this movement. People like myself in the field of civics education have been teaching for years of the need for an informed, educated citizenry. That without such our nation is in peril, our government slave to the corporate interests that buy elections. This is why we teach the Constitution and founding documents. And our thanks for these efforts? To be demonized by the Tea Party as part of the educational elite that controls the thoughts of our youth and that we are instruments of the destruction of our Republic by taking God out of our history. In truth, it seems that because these 'patriots' have a very specific, biased and unrealistic interpretation of our founding, teaching actual history to students is viewed as objectionable and traitorus. Ironically, a good number of these citizens home-school their own children, fearing the likes of me no doubt. Instead of finding the truth of what goes on in the public education on their own, it seems they would prefer to rely on the views of Glenn Kimber, Cleon Skousen,John Taylor Gatto and Glenn Beck. All Mormons, all Libertarians. Hmmm. And so, what I could have seen as a vindication of what I've tried to get my students to see and a call to genuine deliberation on the direction of our society is nothing more than what is: a bunch of angry white men and women. Now the genesis of their anger-big government, out of control spending and unsustainable and stupid acquisition of national debt is real, sincere and agreeable. Their execution and timing are suspect however. I cannot get passed and nobody I've talked to at their meetings I've attended can reasonably answer is: Where was this rage from 2001-2009?

Where were you when I was sick to my stomach at the mechaninations of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney in the runup to the Iraq War? You wanna talk about debt? We borrowed every dime for that damn war from the Chinese. Where were you when disproportionate tax breaks were handed out to the wealthy? Where were you when the conservative majority passed Medicare part D without paying for it and without giving the government the ability to negotiate prices for the prescriptions the taxpayer was now on the hook for? Where were you when energy policy has negotiated behind closed doors? And now you want to yell about how healthcare legislation was handled? Really? You scream how the Democratic party controlled the Executive, Legislative and appointments to the Judicial branch of our government for two years, yet you refuse to understand that same scenario was true of the Republican party from 2001-2006. These are some of the reasons that the Tea Party movement has little standing in my eyes and ought not to have any in the minds of any rational minded American. The concerns of this movement are the concerns of all Americans, making all of us Patriots. Their protestations and conspiracy spinning are the work of paranoia, not patriotism.

I'd like to turn my attention now to those in the Republican party in general. I suppose what I find most surprising, is that I'm surprised at all by the behavior of many Republicans in Congress since Barack Hussein Obama entered office. Their actions are but a reflection of how this party behaved after Bill Clinton got elected in 1992. I can still remeber watching Bob Dole standing on the the floor of the Senate the day after the election saying "Bill Clinton does not have a mandate to govern." What is different this time is that in the 90s Republicans made life difficult to govern they did not obstruct the way the current GOP leadership has. It is clear that soon after the 2008 election these indivduals made the conscious calculation that it was in their best political interest to get in the way of any bipartisan efforts to craft legislation together and that is exactly what they have done. I'm certain there are things President Obama should have done differently to encourage more Republicans to feel as if their ideas were welcome. I'm equally sure that most Republicans in Congress would still have pursued the path they did. Boehner, McConnel and Cantor made sure of that early on. Thus, of course legislation that was passed in the 111th Congress was one sided. It was inevitable based on the Reublican strategy. What concerns me also is that the GOP leadership is considering how it might investigate the Obama administration now that they have control of Congress. With all the problems our nation now faces, they are thinking of how to use the subpoena power of the House to harrass the current administration. Interestingly, in 2006 after Democrats won control of the House, Nancy Pelosi(who I do not like), announced that there would not be an investigation into the Bush administrations questionable actions leading to the Iraq war. And here we are, on the precipice of the re-instigation of the culture wars inside Congress and beyond. Any credibility the GOP had as the opposition party struggling to get their ideas heard stopped when they decided to obstructed rather than help govern. Their actions are those of partisans, not patriots. Politcians, not Americans.

Equally disturbing is the Democratic party. Most of these individuals cannot figure out that life begins at conception. Additionally, they are content with dismantling thousands of years of social history by attempting to re-define marriage and support immigrant rights to the point of circumventing our laws to secure a particular voter base. In terms of fiscal matters, the majority of Democrats don't seem to grasp basic math. Even if taxes are raised(as I believe they should), cuts to entitlement programs are needed. It is simply impossible to keep the promises that have been made. Even moderate Democrats who are willing to flirt with this notion are ostracized by their political peers in much the same way Tea Partiers have made compromise anathema to moderate Republicans. Politicians, not Americans.

And so there you have it. Democrats don't care about life until the child is out of the womb and Republicans couldn't care less once the child leaves the the womb.

This brings me to my last point, that of citizenship. While I'm glad to be an American and proud to say that I have several family members currently serving our armed forces, my citizenship is not defined by the nation in which I was born into. My true citizenship is in Christ. I participate in the pledge of allegience every day at school by standing silently in reflection of what is good about our nation. I do not and will not pledge my allegience to a flag or nation as my allegience is to Christ. As such, it torments me to see so many people who claim to follow Christ blur the line with their political activities. In full disclosure, I am a registered independent, who leans left on some issues, and leans right on others. I have never given money to a political organization or campaign and refuse to believe that one party or candidate has a monopoly on morality or the endorsement of Jesus. So many believers of late seem to talk more about their party and reference the Constitution or a founding father more than they cling to the word of God and the priniciples that Christ has laid out for us to emulate. This is where our country has acquired it's biggest deficit, a deficit of action on the part of followers of Christ to live out the Kingdom of God in great and small ways rather than the platform of the Republican or Democrat party.

There is more. Much more I could write. For now I suppose this has acted as a relief valve.

Be well.


At 8/24/2011, Blogger Sherry C said...

Bravo. Really well written, Mike. We have more in common than I ever realized.


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