DUSTY RHOADES: We Shouldn't Be Calling Each Other Un-American
A message to Republicans:
I know I've been hard on your party during this election cycle. I've said some fairly harsh things. I've called you divisive. I've called you hypocritical. I've called you incompetent, and even insane.
All of these things, of course, are true.
But, in the end, I really do wish you well.
I really do hope that, after this election, you can rid yourself of your worst ideas and your worst elements. I hope you can get rid of the idea that just because people disagree with you, or just because they live in a certain area of the country or in the wrong size municipality, that they're not only wrong, but that they're not even "real Americans."
During this election, vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin told an audience: "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America." The implication being that those non-small-town, non-pocket areas, i.e. the cities and suburbs where most Americans actually live, are not "real America."
McCain spokesperson Nancy Pfotenhauer took up the theme when talking about the contested state of Virginia, asserting that "the real Virginia" was in the McCain-supporting rural counties, not the heavily populated, Obama-leaning areas in Northern Virginia. Honorable John's brother Joe McCain (not to be confused with Joe the Plumber) went even further, calling counties in Northern Virginia "communist country."
When Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann chimed in, calling for the media to investigate the views of Obama and of the people in Congress to find out, "are they pro-America or anti-America?" I began to realize that this "you're a Republican or you're against America" strategy was the actual, if unofficial, Republican Party line.
As the old saying goes, 'Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is on purpose." Even here in North Carolina, Rep. Robin Hayes told a Republican rally that: "Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God." He then denied saying any such thing, until confronted with a video of him saying it, after which he at first claimed he didn't recall it, then said, "It came out the wrong way."
As an aside, I think any political adviser worth his salary needs to sit his or her candidate down in front of a computer early on and say, "Mr. Candidate. This site is called YouTube. Any stupid thing you say is going to be on video, on this site, and it's going to be all over the Internet within minutes. You won't be able to deny it, and you'll look stupider if you try. So watch your mouth."
It is for this reason, more than any political ideology, that I want to see John McCain and Sarah Palin fail. I want to live in a country where "if you don't vote for me, you're not a real American" is a losing strategy and not a winning one. I want to live in an America where I can disagree with my government's policies, or the ideas of a candidate, without being labeled "anti-American."
I'm sick of it. And, if the polls showing that McPalin's divisive attacks are turning voters off are any indication, the rank and file of Americans are sick of it, too.
I have, however, seen some glimmers of hope. McCain himself, when confronted with a woman who said she was afraid of Obama because "he's an Arab," said "No." Obama, McCain said, is "a decent family man" and a "citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues." (OK, that first part could be interpreted as implying that an Arab is not a decent family man, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.)
"We want to fight, and I will fight," McCain said on another occasion, "but I will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments, and I will respect him."
Now, it is true, there were scattered boos from the Republican crowd on both occasions, and McCain and Palin did dive right back into the mud within the day, but again, I'll give the benefit of the doubt and interpret that as just indicating there's still work to be done.
Even Gen. Colin Powell, once touted as a potential Republican candidate for president, chose to endorse Barack Obama, citing as one reason his displeasure with the divisive rhetoric of the McCain campaign. Maybe, just maybe, the Karl Rovian politics of the past, aimed at getting 51 percent of the vote and then burning all your bridges by telling the other 49 percent to sit down and shut up or we'll treat you as an enemy of the State, are in decline.
Yes, Republicans, I've called you divisive. I've called you hypocritical. I've called you incompetent, and even insane. I've made fun of you before, and I'll do it again, because hey, that's what I do. But I don't think I've ever called you un-American. If I have, I apologize.
It's just wrong.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage. USA.
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