Thursday, January 22, 2009
I was one of the 2 million people there on the mall for President Obama's Inaugural Address. The speech was magnificent. A speech given by a man ready to govern and aware of the challenges that face our nation and the politics that have contributed to our current crisis. The speech spoke of the past sacrifices that have made us great and the sacrifices needed from a new generation (including my own) to remake America. The speech reminded me of Lincoln's First Inaugural. Which seems appropriate for the many comparisons of Lincoln and Obama that have been prevalent in contemporary political conversation. However, in my opinion there is one comparison that is true beyond all others. Both men are political geniuses that exemplify the Pragmatic Idealism that informs my political persuasion. Lincoln and Obama understood that effective government that serves the people is possible; yet one needs to be pragmatic in the workings of politics to achieve successful governance. Lincoln and Obama believe in a government that is able to work through statesmanship and deliberation. A strong executive is able to persuade the American people and be transparent while upholding American ideals. Though Lincoln and Obama live in very different times both men expressed that despite any source of conflict and division we are able to rise above and continue to be one people....one nation. A follower of this blog told me to look into the Goldilocks theory.... while I couldn't find much on this subject in regards to politics, the theory suggests that certain circumstances produce a situation in which the solution or resolution is 'just right'. That no other answer or turn of events could have as successful. It is quite possible that Lincoln was and Obama is 'just right'.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
As I was watching the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Designate Eric Holder, I was astonished by the amount of time given to and the amount of honesty present in a discussion of torture. Eric Holder finally admits to the Senate Judiciary Committee and to the American people what many of us already knew, that water boarding is torture. Many on the side of water boarding as a legitimate source of information plead that a ticking time bomb situation may exist or that the civil or human rights of such persons we detain should not even be a consideration. First a ticking time bomb situation is illogical. The situation in which the authorities know that a weapon of mass destruction will go off somewhere in America and that there is a detained individual that may have the information necessary to thwart the attack. Mr. Holder said politely that he did not accept the premise which of course he should not. If we knew that much about a potential attack... what kind of attack... that it was in a major metropolitan area... and that some person was involved... then it can be assumed that the amount of intelligence work already conducted on such an individual and his associates would contribute to the amount of information that the authorities actually have. Information from which we might conclude further action and that will be more useful than anything obtained from simulated drowning. The ticking time bomb situation is a popular hypothetical and it will forever be a hypothetical. It is too illogical to be believed. Our intelligence capabilities have improved since 9/11. We will know more about this ticking time bomb than the hypothetical. Thank you Mr. Holder for telling the American people the truth and stating that you and the President-Elect will change interrogation policy. Moreover, to those that persist that such persons detained in the global war on terror do not deserve the consideration of basic rights or due process... remember that the United States should be a better nation than that. By not torturing we uphold the laws of the world we live in and ensure that our people are not tortured. Our actions have consequences. Also what would the people who support water boarding or detention without due process say to those detained who were eventually found innocent of or not involved in any terrorist activity. They have suffered an ordeal on our watch. Think about it. I recommend the film Taxi To The Dark Side which did win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature last year for all of those who would like to know more on this issue. Yet I remain confident that truth and the rule of law will side with those do not believe in 'enhanced interrogation'.
Friday, January 2, 2009
The GOP is in trouble... we know this... they know this....yet I have not yet seen any remnant of true leadership among current Republican office holders. Paul Krugman's article calls the current GOP the party of whiners which I find appropriate having followed their legislative activities after the election. First on the agenda of course was the Auto Bailout which many Republicans used to blame the Labor Unions for every woe of the American automobile industry. It was a legislative blame game for which no one was the victor and a political catastrophe for which the irresponsible union busting of the Republican party was evident. After the election along with the Auto Bailout, the American economy was continuing on a downward spiral only contributing to the need for direct government action. Yet, there seems to be nothing that the Republican leadership is willing to do to aid the Obama administration stimulus package, but preemptively call it 'Pork Porn' and delay action to have a bill for President Obama to sign by his first week in office. The campaign for the next RNC chair is also a farce with songs regaling America's next President as a 'Magic Negro'. Many Republicans feel that the spending of the Bush administration and the Republican Congresses of 2001 to 2006 was an abandonment of core Republican principles. This argument might explain the misfortunes of Republicans among already active supporters yet it does not explain how conservative republicanism lost the hearts and minds of a vast majority of Americans. Krugman speaks of the decline of the GOP in more subconsciously racial/class warfare terms... it suggests that the party became out of step with the realities of American life. A citizenry that has grown more tolerant, more diverse, and more liberal. I would like to offer another suggestion. Not only did the Republican Party lose touch with the American people... they neglected to lead and merely present allegiances and not ideas to America. The moment Richard Nixon campaigned to the 'silent majority' the Republican party became a party of the few and not a political mechanism arguing for a conservative agenda. Reason in public debate only continued to disintegrate when the Democratic party followed suit and represented 'the other half' of America. President Bush filled his policies and his inner circle with partisan yes men. Politics continued to be marred by interests and not the needs of the American people. Republicans whine because they lost. Yet due to their partisanship, the American people lost more. Political parties exist to present ideas to the electorate and not be held hostage by demographics or identities. Partisanship may be an unavoidable reality yet the GOP should focus on ideas. Some see Republican governors as the party's electoral deliverance. I believe it is a return to the idea of practical small/local governance and individual liberty. Essentially the Republican party should shift to a more Libertarian direction. Republicans can no longer argue for socially conservative federal regulations on marriage and abortion while claiming to be the party of individual liberty and the protection against government intrusion. Republicans under Bush did not uphold the civil liberties and government transparency that foster the freedoms of conscience and expressions of truth in the public and private spheres of American life. There are too many contradictions in contemporary American conservatism. Republicans need to innovate what it is they stand for. Do they stand for a coalition of persons and interests or are they a party of ideas? Democrats and liberals are beginning to take the leap and resist the special interests. Obama is bringing in every political persuasion to help him govern. The policies and politics of the next eight years will be a more deliberative process. Ideas and solutions will be the focus of American governance.