In an article in Monday’s Guardian, Michael Tomasky wrote about the latest Republican tactic against Barack Obama which is effectively to say that he – or his supporters – are anti-American. This obviously plays not only on the race card but also up to the “he’s really a Muslim” or even an Arab(!) aspect of opposition to Obama.
Quite why being black or of Arabian descent or even a Muslim means that you’re anti-America I haven’t a clue. After all, apart from the native Americans, all Americans are descendants of immigrants and the melting point was supposed to be one of the things that made the US great, was it not?
But never mind the illogicality of the position, this “who is not like me is beneath dignity” attitude is of itself deeply unappealing and repellent and for this reason alone would be enough to make me not vote Republican if I were American.
But just who is being anti-American? A lot of Republicans seem to believe that only they are true patriots and anyone who is not Republican or who even disagrees with them slightly are not, and are somehow betraying their country. Reflect for a while on the insufferable arrogance of that attitude.
What it seems to lead to is the belief that non-Republicans are illegitimate holders of office, have somehow perpetrated a fraud on the public and must be got rid of by any means possible (so far, thankfully, short of a coup d’etat.*) In other words to a rejection of the will of the people as expressed in the electoral process. What this means is that such Republicans are actually against democracy. They do not want government of the people, for the people, by the people but government of the people by people who are only like them. Does this not make them the real anti-Americans?
Note here that, despite hanging chads and all that possible disenfranchisement argument that marred Florid’s electoral process in 2000, once George W Bush was sworn in as President, Democrats accepted him as the legitimate Head of State. There was none of the orchestrated opposition that has manifested itself in my lifetime in the hounding, whilst in office, of two Democratic Presidents, Carter and Clinton. (*Not to mention Kennedy being assassinated.)
Now, Carter was a manifestly good man who had the courage to tell Americans what they didn’t want to hear, was pilloried for it and subsequently lost to someone clearly not intellectually up to the job, who mouthed nothing but platitudes and apparently spent most of his time in office asleep. It may be, of course, that Republicans believe good men are not fit for office as they will not for some reason be able to make the necessary decisions, but the track record of less good men isn’t so hot either.
Clinton’s case is different. Not a good man in the family sense that Carter seemed, he was nevertheless pursued through the courts throughout his Presidency over first of all, Whitewater, a fraud of some sort in which he and his wife actually lost money as I recall, and then over sexual peccadilloes – which it has to be said Republicans are not exactly immune to.
In defence of the pursuit of Presidents for wrong doing Republicans will immediately cry, “Nixon!” and that Democrats were foremost in the chase.
But. Don’t let us forget that Nixon was a crook who, as President, broke laws which he had sworn to uphold. None of that applied to Carter or Clinton. And Nixon got himself into it. Were it not for Watergate Nixon would have served out his second term and in all likelihood be remembered as one of the better Presidents
So do Republicans accept fellow Americans are as legitimate as they are, or not? Will they accept the verdict of the vote in November if Obama wins?
On past evidence I will make a prediction.
If McCain wins everything will proceed smoothly (and let’s also hope fervently he manages out his term without medical mishap.)
If Obama wins we’re in for four – or eight – years of hounding.