dividing america

Dividing America

October 18th, 2008 By: marc moore
| Tags:

An oft-repeated refrain is that Americans are more divided than ever before.  As one example, David Neiwert says that Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann should be censured for saying the media should investigate members of Congress who hold anti-American views.  Bachmann’s statement is not worthy of a Congresswoman; however, there’s much more to consider about the causes of the political and social divide, as I discuss at length below.

First, if Neiwert is honest he’d admit that Chris Matthews was obviously trying to taunt Bachmann into saying that Barack Obama is anti-American. 

Why?  Because that’s what he does.  But if journalists were dogs, they shouldn’t be rottweilers like Matthews or Keith Olbermann when we’d be better served by bloodhounds in search of the truth.

Second, the truth – as Backmann ought to know – is that the Congress is unlikely to be harboring any true anti-Americans.  It does include a significant minority of representatives who hold leftist political, social, and economic views that result in policies that are bad for the country.  These people will acquire potentially unchecked power when Mr. Obama is elected president in just over two weeks and the potential for Democrats to do great misdeeds over the next two years, at a minimum, is quite high.  This creates a climate of fear that is at least partially justified.

Third, at a time in which great power is transitioning to the opposition it may seem to conservatives as though the congressional left are anti-American when in fact they are only wrong.  Republicans need to get a sense of perspective on the situation that they themselves created through their own incompetence.

Dave Winer recently wrote that when Republicans “attack people who support their opponents, they’re attacking half of the country they say they love and supposedly put first.”

Dave doesn’t say who is is that is being attacked by Republicans, but if we’re talking about Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Tony Rezco, these are people whose relationship with the next POTUS deserves to be understood.  Frankly, it does show poor judgment for Obama to accept a land-deal kickback from Rezco and to accept guidance from and give money to Ayers, a man who has no business whatever molding young minds.

Dave’s piece came out before the “Joe the Plumber” phenomena that’s resulted in left-wing investigations into the personal life and finances of an ordinary man who did nothing more than ask Barack Obama the question that every American has the right to know the answer to, “What does your tax plan really mean to me?”

The attacks on Joe Wurzlebacher are much, much worse than the inquiries, however pointed, into Obama’s relationships with Ayers, et al, because:

  • He’s a simple, ordinary citizen with no defenses
  • Some of the truth the attackers don’t wish to be known was revealed by his question

The latter is telling.  Barack Obama wants to “spread the wealth around”.  That is the truth, albeit one that cannot be said aloud in American politics.  Wurzlebacher got Obama to do that and the Democrats’ immediate response was to rape him media-style for accidentally causing Obama to speak the core of the leftist economic agenda aloud.

Barack Obama is hardly unique in his socialistic views – wealth redistribution is the whole of the base on which leftist politics are based.  But spreading the wealth around can only occur by taking from those who have and giving to those who do not.  That’s the left’s economic policy in a nutshell – the government as Robin Hood – and honest liberals admit as much.

Consider this simplified example:  The government needs $1M in financing for Project X and there are 1000 citizens to provide it.  How to proceed?

  • Option 1 – let the people pay as much of the project as they wish and no more.  If they refuse, the project is killed.
  • Option 2 – tax each person $1000 so each pays a fair share
  • Option 3 – tax each person X% of income such that $1M is raised
  • Option 4 – tax those with the most income at a high rate so that they pay for virtually all of the project and the poorest pay nothing

Which of these options is the fairest?  And remember, be honest with yourself.

Obviously liberals strongly prefer the last option despite its inherent lack of fairness.  But does that mean that all liberals are anti-American?  Of course not, a fact Matthews and Backmann both realize.

Many of leftists love America as much as I do.  That’s sometimes hard to accept, especially when I consider how much their social and welfare policies have done to destroy this country.  But it’s true and deserves to be acknowledged/

Similarly, Barack Obama’s desire to increase the amount of wealth redistribution the government carries out must be recognized if we’re going to tell each other the truth about how America will be governed over the next 4 years.

Unfortunately, the truth is something that’s in short supply in certain circles in this country.  It’s truly regrettable that one such circle is the American media, which has essentially thrown itself in league with Barack Obama and the rest of the liberal left.

It’s notable that Mr. Obama himself is not above trying to spin the media situation, as when he recently attempted to flame Fox News, saying “I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls”.

I’m sure that’s true.  Without Fox News’ right-leaning coverage there would be no alternative to the liberal media view that dominates in this country.  Given such a monopoly on information dissemination it’s certain that Obama would be doing even better than he is. 

However, the truth is that if media were less ideological and more focused on unearthing and reporting facts than prognosticating Barack Obama would have lost in the Democratic primaries and we wouldn’t be talking about him right now as the left’s political champion.  But he is that champion and much of the media is fighting hard for him to win the presidency.

Witness Katrina Vandenheuvel, Chris Matthews’ side-kick for the Bachmann segment, as she provides a prime insight into how liberal, unfair, and unrepresentative MSNBC is in its coverage.  After Bachmann signs off she said:

Chris, I fear for my country. I think what we just heard is a congresswoman channeling Joe McCarthy, channeling a politics of fear and loathing and demonization and division and distraction. Not a single issue mentioned. This is a politics at a moment of extreme economic pain in this country that is incendiary, that is so debased, that I’m almost having a hard time breathing, because I think it’s very scary. Because this is a country I love, and this woman had no sense of the history of this nation, which is one of struggle, of trying to fulfill the great ideals of this nation, of movements that have brought about the civilizing advances of this country, and she doesn’t even know who Saul Alinsky is — a community organizer who channeled the views of the people from below.

I think Barack Obama is going to win, and he’s going to have a lot of work because there is an extremism unleashed in this nation which you just heard on this program, which could lead to violence, and hatred, and toxicity. And against the backdrop of the Great Depression we’re living through, it could lead — and I don’t use this word lightly — to a kind of American fascism, which is against the great values of this nation, and which people like that are fomenting.

Admittedly it was stupid of Ms. Bachmann to let herself get bullied into saying the media should expose anti-Americanism in Congress. 

But does Vandenheuvel’s diatribe admonish Bachmann for her real mistake?  No, it’s a pure ideological rant that lionizes the glorious social revolution of the left and tars anyone who dares to think otherwise as violent and hateful.  Worse, it is virtually all falsehoods designed explicitly to make murderers out of Republicans. 

Is this a moment of extreme economic pain in this country?  No.  Compared with the Ford and Carter years Americans are fair better off than they were then.

Are we living against the backdrop of the Great Depression?  Are we in another?  No and no.  A much-needed correction of the housing and stock markets took place and we’ll recover.  The truth is that neither our stocks nor our homes were worth what the liars on Wall Street were telling us.  But 6% unemployment is not high, even compared with the Carter years and no one was screaming, “Depression!” then like they are now.

Are Michelle Bachmann and other Republicans deliberately stoking the fires of prejudice, racism, and class warfare?  No.  They simply are desperate to see some sort of check placed on the liberals who are about to control all 3 elected forces of government.

In fact, liberalism is the political ideology that creates class warfare as part of its very definition.  Wealth redistribution, the bedrock on which leftist economics are built, inextricably embeds class discrimination into the movement and the two cannot be separated.

That’s why so much hinges on Barack Obama and the leadership that he may or may not provide America over the next 4 years.  It’s up to him to control the forces of liberalism, the very forces that propelled him, against the odds and all reason, to where he is now.  The great irony is that so little is truly known about this all-important man because his record of public service is virtually a blank slate. 

Obama is a gifted orator and a political cipher, a man who may well not be ready or able to fulfill the duties of the office he’s about to take.  But it’s the state of the Congress and its control by the Democrats that really frightens people, not Barack Obama.

Winer says about conservatives, “if you love America, it seems you must love the people who voted for Gore, Kerry and Obama too.”

That’s true.  Christ commands us to love our neighbors, though they may spite us for it.  This is true even if our fellow Americans are liberals.  But loving them is not the same thing as allowing them to force leftist politics and social agendas on the country.

The best way for Americans to love each other, it seems to me, and to heal the divisions that we’ve inherited, created anew, and allowed others to exploit, is to always tell each other the truth.

The truth is the rock on which relationships and societies can be built, you understand.  Ideologies fail and are swept away by history.  But the truth remains unchanged, obscured at times by the raging storm of events but never altered.  To the extent we acknowledge and celebrate the truth America is a land of hope, justice, and prosperity; to the extent we obfuscate, we are all diminished.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • SphereIt
  • NewsVine
  • TailRank
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon


  1. Michael van der Galien

    October 18th, 2008 at 20:33

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #1

    Great to see you back to posting Marc, and what a great, lengthy, post it was. 

    Third, at a time in which great power is transitioning to the opposition it may seem to conservatives as though the congressional left are anti-American when in fact they are only wrong.  Republicans need to get a sense of perspective on the situation that they themselves created through their own incompetence.



    I think that’s a very important point right there, well, two points in one, actually:
    1. Liberals aren’t anti-American, they’re merely wrong on a number of issues (that’s my view as well, liberals themselves will disagree on the wrong part of course)
    2. Today’s situation is for a large part due to conservatives screwing things up. They elected conservative senators, representatives, and even a president and vice president, but the result is a massive, ten trillion dollar debt, partisan bickering over every subject that comes up, and so on


    Socialistic
    I would not call Obama’s plans ’socialist,’ but progressive or Social Democratic. To me, he’s not a Socialist for they advocate much more than what Socialists advocate for (trust me, we’ve got quite some of ‘em down here), but he is a Social Democrat, to quite a degree in the European mold. 


    But does Vandenheuvel’s diatribe admonish Bachmann for her real mistake?  No, it’s a pure ideological rant that lionizes the glorious social revolution of the left and tars anyone who dares to think otherwise as violent and hateful.  Worse, it is virtually all falsehoods designed explicitly to make murderers out of Republicans. 



    100% in agreement right there. Bachmann was stupid, but the one truly going over the top was Vandenheuvel (by the way, she has Dutch ancestors; her last name means “from the hill” in Dutch, and a fairly common name here). There’s no climate of ‘extremism’ or ‘hatred’ in the U.S., at least, not more from Republicans than Democrats – I’d actually say that liberal activists are far more hateful than conservative ones.


    In fact, liberalism is the political ideology that creates class warfare as part of its very definition.  Wealth redistribution, the bedrock on which leftist economics are built, inextricably embeds class discrimination into the movement and the two cannot be separated.

    That’s not liberalism actually. For liberalism doesn’t create class warfare in any way, shape or form. That’s progressivism, Social Democratic ideology, socialism, communism, marxism, leninism, stalinism, maoism… but definitely not liberalism.


    Having said that, American progressives claimed that name, and now does indeed mean that in the U.S.


  2. Kaspar

    October 18th, 2008 at 21:50

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #2

    “This creates a climate of fear that is at least partially justified.”

    Any fear republicans are fearing is pathetic and self-serving in comparison to what any sane person feels when reviewing the true horror of the past eight years, dominated by the GOP. I don’t care how Bachmann feels – Obama is not anti-american and the call for this sad little investigation of Anti-americanism is not a bipartisan impulse generated by an objective and genuine fear for the state of her country. Where were her demands for these investigations when republicans ran roughshod, when the Bill of Rights and the constitution, along with the United States (verbal) commitment to justice and human rights? Is not indefinite detention and Enhanced interrogation (a nazi term) anti-Amerian? Bachmann is weak in tact and self-reflection and what she said is inexcusable, not to mention eerily resemblant of Palin’s latest example of culture warfare.

    Option 4 – tax those with the most income at a high rate so that they pay for virtually all of the project and the poorest pay nothing”

    Um. Or you could tax those with more income at a somewhat higher rate so they pay for more than the poor but not virtually all of it. Call it option 5 or something. Option 4 sucks but I guess that was the “point”.

    “However, the truth is that if media were less ideological and more focused on unearthing and reporting facts than prognosticating Barack Obama would have lost in the Democratic primaries and we wouldn’t be talking about him right now as the left’s political champion.  But he is that champion and much of the media is fighting hard for him to win the presidency.”

    You see, the more general and sweeping your statements are the more investigation and analysis is required to back it up. I am calling you a liar on this, because you don’t bother to shift the onus. The subjective opinion – unsupported and simply thrown out – of one single person is not worth much to another.

    “Christ commands us to love our neighbors, though they may spite us for it.  This is true even if our fellow Americans are liberals.”

    How very noble, patient and enduring.

    “But loving them is not the same thing as allowing them to force leftist politics and social agendas on the country.”

    I resent the use of the word leftist because it is made up by people who despise me. Also, you can’t force policies or social agendas (Like quotas and hate crime legislation and civil unions for the gays and scary stuff like that) democratically. You can get them through with propaganda etc., but forcing policies kinda implies the use of… Force.

    Vandenheuvel was right to say extreme economic pain, but unwise to call it in terms of a depression.

    Likewise, I think she wasn’t very left-centered when she spoke of what she felt about America, except maybe on the Alinsky part. Your view of what she said doesn’t match up with your quote, you just impose your view of a liberal’s implications on her.

    “because there is an extremism unleashed in this nation which you just heard on this program, which could lead to violence, and hatred, and toxicity.”

    The offending Vandenheuvel is of course partially correct here, but she is too general and perhaps unfair to connect Bachmann to the scum we hear at some Palin rallies. Republicans on the fringe are martyrizing themselves and demonizing any of the parties working for their downfall to an unprecedented degree, and that is saying a lot. The rhetoric is psychotic, and the tiniest rumor is absorbed as fact and used to justify more weeping and complaining.

    “They simply are desperate to see some sort of check placed on the liberals who are about to control all 3 elected forces of government.”

    Now all of a sudden that would be bad, says Bachmann. How very noble of her to decide that the checks and balances shouldn’t all be in the hands of one party. How worried she is, how much she reflects John Q’s sane desire to investigate this new government for anti-Americanism.

    Listen, if Bachmann wants me to respect her worries as genuine she needs to bring some commitment to reaching across to the other side. Saying “oooh what will these left-wingers do now that they’ll win” doesn’t really tug any heartstrings, for very obvious reasons. People on the left have been taking all kinds of mudslinging for a while and they shouldn’t have to appease or calm people like Bachmann down, nor do they need to respect or forgive Bachmann for that kind of rhetoric.

    I am not so sure “leftists” with “social agendas” are a good idea in all third branches either, because when push comes to shove they are all politicians. But the ones on the right who can carry the torch for a more purple government without looking like hypocrites asking for a mulligan on their past behavior are not that many.


  3. Gina

    October 18th, 2008 at 22:43

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #3

    I apparently must be the liberal I think I am, as every time I read a column which places “liberalism” as the forefront as the ruin of America I don’t seem to follow.

    I am not for a “Robin Hood” government.

    By the definition of the word Senator Obama is NOT a SOCIALIST, and God I am so sick of the GOP using the the “distribution of wealth” as a scare tactic.

    You say: “In fact, liberalism is the political ideology that creates class warfare as part of its very definition.”  How?  Like I said, I must be naive.  My husband works in the Hedge fund industry.  We are well off.  We give to charities.  I don’t support a welfare state, I want people out of shelters, and into jobs and homes.  How to the conservatives propose we do this?  We let the horses of prosperity out the barn, how do we fix it?  Tell me?

    In my opinion it is the neo-con Right , with it’s message of fear and hate of anything different that has created this HUGE divide in America right now, not the left.   And Senator Bachmann just displayed a HUGE example of how.   I supported McCain in 2000.   I actually voted this year in the Republican primary.  I thought him a good centrist candidate.  But he pandered and sold out to extremists in a bid to get elected.  Obama is now my only hope for change, and it appears much of America agrees.


  4. Gina

    October 18th, 2008 at 22:44

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #4

    that would be “*not*” the liberal I think I am.


  5. Kaspar

    October 18th, 2008 at 23:16

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #5

    “God I am so sick of the GOP using the the “distribution of wealth” as a scare tactic.”

    I think that economic redistribution isn’t intrinsically bad, it’s just that many on the left fail to commit themselves fully to ensuring that all social expenditures are cost-effective, good for the nation and most of all justified according to bipartisan and reasonable parameters. Just like those on the left don’t want their tax money spent on a poorly handled war that was supposed to pay for itself, the right shouldn’t have to accept the “trust us” argument from the left. Of course, those on the right (or “rightists”, if that is the lingo Marc Moore endorses) who used the “trust us” argument regarding the Iraq war debacle can’t really complain about people on the left following suit until they come clean about their own excesses, but this goes for the left as well.

    I recognize that the Great Society program was poorly handled, partisan, ideological, detached from reality, costly, counter-effective and in essence a pretty bad trip, and I perfectly understand the swing to Reagan that followed. I guess the democrats never fully recuperated from their massive victory in 1964. I do hope Obama can do a lot to reel in the DNC on certain pet peeves and obsessions while still being unapologetically liberal and partisan when it comes to issues the GOP have put a stall on for too long, like forcing all states to recognize civic partnership for all loving couples, no matter what the bible says.


  6. marc

    October 19th, 2008 at 04:03

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #6

    @Kaspar:

    “I am calling you a liar on this, because you don’t bother to shift the onus. The subjective opinion…”

    Referring to my claim that the media has thrown down in favor of Obama, right?  I don’t think that’s disputable.  Calling me a liar doesn’t change what’s happening in the media.  Have you forgotten the Democratic primaries already?

    “Now all of a sudden that would be bad, says Bachmann. How very noble of her to decide that the checks and balances shouldn’t all be in the hands of one party.”

    I think we’ve all seen what a train wreck the Republicans have been.  Perhaps the only thing worse would be lurching back to monopoly rule by the Dems.  Newt Gingrich, et al, came to power because Americans despised the Clintons’ early, pre-moderate policies.  Then there’s the glory of the all-Democratic, all-the-time Carter years.  But I guess we’ve collectively forgotten about that.

    “Also, you can’t force policies or social agendas (Like quotas and hate crime legislation and civil unions for the gays and scary stuff like that) democratically.”

    Given that we’re talking about a democratic society, perhaps these agenda items should not be brought to fruition if they don’t have sufficient popular support.  Women’s right to vote was a struggle but passed through the democratic process into law more-or-less organically.  On the contrary, desegregation was forced by the courts and the result was a disaster.


  7. Jason, Managing Editor

    October 19th, 2008 at 04:11

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #7

    Kaspar, if you can’t respond without name-calling and abuse, don’t comment at all.  If you can’t self-regulate for basic civility, you will be banned. And this warning is a courtesy, not a subject for you to argue about. So don’t try.


  8. marc

    October 19th, 2008 at 04:11

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #8

    @Gina:

    “We are well off.  We give to charities.  I don’t support a welfare state, I want people out of shelters, and into jobs and homes.  How to the conservatives propose we do this?”

    I’m glad you’ve been blessed and chosen to use your good fortune to benefit others.  That shows great character on the part of your family.  I try to do the same through my church and volunteer work there.

    But the point is that the purpose of government is not to use its power to force people like us to give of ourselves to those who can’t or won’t care for themselves.  To do so out of love is charity, to be forced is to have been robbed.

    That’s the fundamental problem with redistribution of wealth – it’s naked force resulting in the loss of money and/or property.  If you think it’s not, try not paying your taxes and see what happens.  It’s simply not justified in a democratic society.

    What’s so powerful about Joe the Plumber is that a guy who makes very average money understands the right way for a government to operate better than the man who will be president.  That’s called standing for a principle, even at one’s own detriment.


  9. marc

    October 19th, 2008 at 04:44

    Reply |
    Quote |
    #9

    @Kaspar:

    With regard to your earlier comment about my 4 options for funding Project X, The American magazine says that the top quarter of Americans pay 85% of the taxes.  That sounds like my option 4 to me.

    “I think that economic redistribution isn’t intrinsically bad…”

    I disagree, as you might suspect, although I’m not completely rabid about it.  IMO, option 3 – a flat tax – would be vastly more fair while still providing some wealth redistribution because the well-to-do would still pay significantly higher taxes than the lower income bracket.

    As for the gay marriage issue, it’s a bit off-topic, but I’ll say that IMO marriage is a religious ceremony and in the U.S. should be defined according to traditional Judeo-Christian standards.

    Now, if we’re talking about health insurance coverage, life insurance benefits, survivor rights, etc., I agree that the nature of the relationship should not be relevant.

    BTW, “rightist” is fine with me; it’s certainly partly right.  I’d self-describe as a conservative/libertarian hybrid.


  10. Joe W

    October 19th, 2008 at 05:43

    I read the words that quote “leftists in Congress can cause our country great harm” because of an Obama Presidency.

    Obama’s record of being the champion of Conservatives at Harvard University is probably unparalleled.

     

    The following website link wills sooth the fears of any open-minded person – guaranteed.

     

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/choice2008/obama/harvard.html


  11. Kaspar

    October 19th, 2008 at 10:05

    “Referring to my claim that the media has thrown down in favor of Obama, right?  I don’t think that’s disputable.”

    You people who are claiming this have not built your case according to strong standards. The media is the media – unpredictable and opportunistic as often as it can. The reporters are liberals, the owners, board members and media moguls are conservatives. You have not shifted the onus, and since your claim lacks substance there is nothing to dispute.

    “Perhaps the only thing worse would be lurching back to monopoly rule by the Dems.”

    I have seen anlayses that suggest that an economy benefits the most by an all-blue government. Anyway, there are few republicans who deserve any attention when raising worries about an all-blue government.

    “On the contrary, desegregation was forced by the courts and the result was a disaster.”

    Well, you can’t destroy evil organically. Realpolitik and pragmatism must not have any say when we destroy the social and political discrimination of same-sex couples. Adoptions, inseminations and civil partnership for all stable and investigated same-sex couples. Today. Either make a decent case for any opinion to the contrary or get out of my way – I don’t have to slow down when I destroy the evil status quo we have now.

    “I’ll say that IMO marriage is a religious ceremony and in the U.S. should be defined according to traditional Judeo-Christian standards.”

    I have no problem with that. But civil partnership with all economic benefits for all couples is undebatable.

    I perfectly agree with the desire to see rich people handling less of the costs. Everything must be balanced out and costs need to be curtailed to begin with. The thing is that according to The Economist’s survey a significant majority of economists are behind Obama’s economic plan. I dunno, I’m just not feeling that there are many right-wingers who can sound genuine and sound when “desperately” trying to prevent an all-blue government. I for one, don’t really want one – Obama deserves eight years and he won’t have a chance to make the sort of paradigm-shift Reagan made unless he does things at a restricted pace.







PoliGazette Comments Policy


PoliGazette encourages comments from all viewpoints, especially those that disagree.
Comments submitted must, however, adhere to the following standards. Comments that violate
these standards may be edited or deleted without notice at the sole discretion of the editors.
Commenters who repeatedly or egregiously violate these standards or who attempt to argue
publicly with editors regarding the comments policy may be banned from commenting further.


(1) Comments should address the substantive content of the post. Comments that repeatedly
or blatantly misrepresent the content of the post or of others’ comments are not welcome. Comments that
respond to something other than which the contributor or commenter may have said are irrelevant and should
not be posted.


(2) Comments should avoid vulgarity as well as racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual bigotry.


(3) Comments should not personally attack the character, personal integrity, or professional
reputation of any PoliGazette contributor or of other commenters.


(4) Comments should reflect the contributions of the commenters themselves and should not
include extensive cut-and-paste reproductions of others’ words except insofar as necessary to supplement
the commenter’s own arguments. Link spam, trackback spam, and propaganda spam will be instantly deleted.


(5) Public figures are considered open to all substantive criticism of their policies and statements.
Comments that present objectively false factual information about public figures (i.e. “Obama is a Muslim”) or
that attack public figures by attacking their families are not welcome. Comments that merely repeat
slogans for or against a candidate without engaging in substantive comment are not welcome.


Questions or challenges to these policies or their application should be directed to the editors
by email only.