Thursday, November 6, 2008

See? I can still blog about politics even when things went my way

David Harsanyi of the Denver Post doesn't get it.

"My children continually are lectured by well-meaning adults about the mystifying power culled from our differences, the strength we derive from our disparate upbringing, and the power of diversity.

So why, one wonders, does this belief not extend to our politics and ideology? Why do we strive to shed individuality and become herds of devotees and shills?"

He's questioning President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama's call to unity in America. President-Elect Obama has famously said:

"We are not red states and blue states, we are the UNITED States of America."

A call to unity. Harsanyi defines "unity" as

"Unity: n. the state of being one; oneness -- especially when your chosen political party happens to win an election."

K. No. Dave, sweetie, you don't get it. This isn't George Bush's America anymore. President-Elect Obama isn't going to come out and say "either you're with us or you're against us", but rather has also famously said:

"We may disagree, but let us not be disagreeable."

President-Elect Obama, and the America who has brought him to this high office, knows that we aren't always going to agree. But, unlike the Republican party of the last 30 years, just because you don't agree with the President, doesn't mean that he will question your American-ness, your willingness to be united in this new century, your moral values, or anything else that was questioned when you didn't agree with the majority in George Bush's America.

"Winning elections is one thing; governing is quite another. It is impossible to deny that Obama ran one of the sharpest, most diligent and exhilarating campaigns in modern American history or, for that matter, that the liberal wing of the Democratic Party has won a resounding mandate to run the country.

That only means we need a robust and principled opposition."

President-Elect Obama would completely agree with you, Dave. I agree with you. If we all flop lop-sidedly and brain-dead onto the Democratic Party's platform, we may get a lot of shit done, but I think we can all agree that when there are no checks and balances on power (kinda the way there were in George Bush's America) the country gets fucked up. But you, Dave, are stuck in George Bush's America, where opposition and differing opinions are bad.

They're not. As long as those opinions are based on reason and not emotion or parroted talking points and we can have a rational discussion on a given subject -- or agree to disagree if we can't have that ration discussion -- we're all cool.

My final photography project, the one for my BFA Show, was based on this idea. Not that we should make fun of George W. Bush, but that we should try to put ourselves in his shoes. And while it was difficult to get some variance of ideas about what George W. Bush would say in the area where I was, the entire point behind the project was unity. We don't have to agree. We don't even have to like each other, but we're all Americans, so as Americans we all have the same right to be heard. That's the point. That's what President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama (I love saying that) is talking about when he speaks of unity.

Dave, I am pretty sure that I fundamentally disagree with you on a lot of things. I'm pretty sure that if we met, you wouldn't like me, but you know what? As long as you treated me respectfully, (which I'm sure you would because you're probably a classy person -- I think we should just start the unity thing by assuming that everyone is classy and fundamentally good; except Dick Cheney), I would do the same for you. As long as we weren't drinking while having a political discussion, I think we would be able to talk civilly, as Americans, and not allow our differences to divide us and turn us against each other; we'd at least be able to agree to disagree.

The thing about politics over the last 30 years is that politicians have done nothing but try to divide us. 70% of Americans believe in a woman's right to have an abortion in at least some circumstances. An even greater percentage than that thinks that health care is a right, rather than a privilege. An even greater percentage than that believes that they are always right. But, over the past 30 years, politicians and their strategists being more concerned with winning elections than actually doing right by the people, have turned the right and left against each other with buzz words like "pro-abortion", "anti-choice", "socialism", "Marxism", "un-America", and turned well-duh issues like women's sovereignty over their own bodies, and access to health care for everyone into wedge issues.

When President-Elect Obama talks about unity, he's not telling you "I'm right 100% of the time and if you disagree with me, you're wrong and un-American." That was George Bush's America. Barack Obama has even said he's not always right, and he knows that not everyone is going to agree with decisions he makes. But he's also said that it is completely unacceptable for any American to question the patriotism and American-ness of any other American for any reason, especially policy disagreements.

Unity in Barack Obama's America isn't about agreeing on everything 100% of the time. It's about agreeing that we all have the right to be heard. Even the opposition. So form your strong and principled opposition, Dave (and Republicans -- emphasis on the principled, no more of this Tom Delay/Ted Stevens/Michelle Bachman shit, okay?), and we will see you on the floor of the House and Senate. We won't agree on everything all the time, but there are some things that we can agree on, and we should start with those things and then have intelligent conversations free of invective on the things that we don't agree on.

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