Friday, September 5, 2008

What Bothered Me About the Republican Convention...

...is that there's a fine line between patriotism and jingoism. I'm not sure the RNC writers know this.

Jingoism is "extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy." Jingosim "refers to the advocation of the use of threats of or actual force against other countries in order to safeguard what a country's perceived national interest, and colloquially, it refers to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others."

Can anyone realistically say that the Republican speakers (and President Bush generally) don't fit this definition? If so, you didn't hear Guiliani express concern that Obama "brought back European ideas." (This is funny, of course, because our country was founded on "European" ideas).

Can anyone realistically say the Republican strategy isn't to pump people with pride by painting an "above reproach" America (or as President Bush calls it, "Amerrrrrica")? Is there anybody breathing who doesn't think that the entire convention created an "us versus them" mentality? Even McCain's theme "Country First" is a clever double entendre suggesting that (a) McCain puts national interest above political interests and (b) Obama is not authentically Amerrrrican.

The problem with patriotic and jingoistic appeals is that they are a de facto attack on anybody who has ever suffered in this country or helped alleviate that suffering. Permit me to illustrate.

Mitt Romney: "Just like you, there’s never been a day when I wasn’t proud to be an American." This is an obvious dig at Michelle Obama, who said she was proud of America "for the first time." I've been proud of America a LOT, and in particular, in the generosity of individual Americans in times of domestic AND international crises.

But I'm not always proud. And if Romney is, I have to assume he means something different than I do when I say "America." Maybe Republicans are only talking about being proud of "the structure of government," for clearly, they cannot be talking about the results.

Was Mitt Romney proud when black people were beaten and had dogs tear their flesh because they wanted to use a white restroom? Was Romney proud when we interned Japanese-Americans during World War II, an act that our government (apparently not feeling so proud) repudiated when it paid reparations? Was Romney proud with the ineptitude of FEMA in Katrina's wake? Was he proud when Barry Scheck's DNA project showed so many innocent men were on death row that state after state instituted moratoriums? Was he proud when we learned our President was connected to a burglary at the DNC headquarters? Was he proud when our President got a blowjob in the White House? Was he proud when in the late 1980s and early 1990s, our infant mortality rate was the highest in the industrialized world? Frankly, I thought all of these disclosures were embarrassing. Or, to go where Republicans live, are they proud that our country has made abortion legal and that pornography is one of the highest grossing businesses in America? That's ALL a source of pride?

In his entire presidency, President Bush NEVER admitted to making a mistake. Ever. I thought that was a uniquely personal character flaw, but now I'm starting to see it as Republican orthodoxy when it comes to their political strategy. You NEVER make people feel bad about themselves if they might vote for you. When it comes TO YOU, Republicans are your enabling friend. YOU never have a drinking problem. YOU are never overweight. YOU are never too ignorant. YOU are never irresponsible. It's THEM that have the problems, NOT YOU, who is a part of REAL Amerrrica.

Governor Mike Huckabee made the most "real" comment during the whole Republican convention when he referred to "The shameful evil of racism" and "how ignorance and prejudice caused people to do the unthinkable. And it wasn’t so many years ago." There was almost NO reaction from the crowd. It was stunned silence. When Governor Huckabee stated that we celebrate Barack Obama's nomination because it elevates this country, there was almost no applause.

You see, Governor Huckabee was breaking the patriotism chain by pointing out a flaw in the Amerrrican experience, and when he said "it wasn't so many years ago," he was reminding people subtly of the prospect that we haven't purged the evil instincts out of our consciousness. Nobody at the RNC wanted to hear that (fecal matter). The idea that there could be anything wrong with any of the American people (except for liberals and the media) is anathema.

This is why the Republican convention actually LAUGHED when Guiliani said Obama worked as a community organizer. Why would somebody waste time being a community organizer in a flawless country, after all?!?

(The second most poorly-received speech at the RNC was delivered by some lesser known politico female who talked about all the economic problems in America on night 2. She got NO response. You would think that the struggling economy and foreclosure crises was pretty well known by now, but again, her speech admitted that...gasp....something is wrong with Amerrrrica!)

And the irony is that the Republicans didn't need to be divisive. Governor Palin could take out the "Democrats hate America" rah rah and still have delivered a great speech just on experience alone. She made a compelling argument for executive experience with a lot of witty zingers, and if anything, she made me think that she might be better than McCain or Obama, both of whom have never served in an executive position.

But when it came time to decide to go dirt road or high road, the Republicans went where they did when they last gave Pat Buchanan a microphone - divide and conquer. Gotta go dirt....'cause there ain't paved roads in a Sweet Home Alabama strategy, folks.

The short of it is this:

Democrats say: "We're the best country on the planet, BUT we're a work in progress, and with shared sacrifice and appeal to conscience, we'll get there together."

Republicans say: "We're the best country on the planet, and only liberals don't know it! Case closed!!!" (RED STATE CROWD ROARS AS SOME "WE'LL KICK YOUR ASS" COUNTRY MUSIC COMES ON. LIONS ENTER COLISEUM TO EAT THE FRENCH. RNC CROWD ROARS AGAIN).


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12 comments:

Wilson46201 said...

Well written !

Anonymous said...

The GOP Convention solidified the fact that where once existed a fine line seperating Nationalism from Fascism that line is no longer sharply defined but erased.
The burning crosses have been replaced by the Amercian flag worn on the lapel.
The vision and ideology of these Lapel Pin Patriots are taking this nation backwards into a time and place they pretend never existed.

Anonymous said...

Some Community organizers:
Jane Addams
Dorothy Day
Ghandi
Cesar Chavez
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jesus

Anonymous said...

Some Community organizers:
Jane Addams
Dorothy Day
Ghandi
Cesar Chavez
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jesus

iPOPA said...

Anon 9:54:

I don't see fascism in the Republican Party's national convention, and I think your remark is a bit extreme. Just one man's opinion. But your point about community organizers, boy, is that directly on target.

J. Hagedorn said...

Wow Chris! I couldn't have said it better than you do in this entry.

Republicans HATE Democrats, HATE Liberals (and now they HATE Community Organizers), yet they veil that hate in jingoism and pandering. (Although we Democrats have gotten much better at the pandering part in recent years as well!)

And the list of past community organizers that anon 5:20 posted is the type of thing that Obama should use in an ad to shove that whole condescending tone about Community Organizers up the whole Republican Party's collective posterior.

True Conservative said...

Jane Addams
Dorothy Day
Ghandi
Cesar Chavez
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jesus

Obama I don't think so. I hope he puts this in an add.

Anonymous said...

True Conservative is truly clueless.

True Conservative said...

anon 1210
Drink the kool aid. You really think Obama is in that league? If you do, there is no reasonong with you. Even he would not make that argument.

Anonymous said...

No Kool-Aid necessary here. Obama did community organizing work in Chicago, which Palin and the GOP have ridiculed as being meaningless.

The list shows how "meaningless" community organizing can be.

As I said, clueless.

Anonymous said...

True Conservative,

Like most of those who agree with you, you miss the point completely. The Republican demagoguery about Community Organizers isn't so much about Obama as it is about their disdain for anybody that is willing to serve those who won't otherwise be heard. Of course they also use this same approach to highlight Obama's race, as they can really only do that in code anyway.

Obama wouldn't claim to be in the same league as any other noted Community Organizer, but the point is that Republicans love to demonize a vocation without thinking first about just what they are demonizing. Of course that thought process is so ingrained, I didn't expect you to understand it....

Wilson46201 said...

Maybe the reason the Republicans are so huffy about "community organizers" is that it's usually Republicans and their ilk that the community has to organize against?