Divided We Fall
All Americans recognize that partisan politics are part of a Presidential election, but the head first dive that speakers at the Republican Convention took into divisive politics that sought to deepen existing fissions along cultural lines in this country was considered reprehensible by many.
I’m talking about how the speakers at the Republican convention relentlessly evoked images of service, patriotism, duty and tried to associate them as Republican values. The language of patriotism is usually delivered under the guise of supporting the troops, as if Democrats are somehow incapable of this.
I’m talking about how they disparaged Democrats for being wasteful and reliant on the government, perpetuating the sentiment that only Republicans strive for efficiency in government. Starting on Tuesday evening and culminating with John McCain on Thursday, every speech at the Republican convention was interspersed with words like; service, fight, defend, honor, legacy, protection and so on. I sat by and watched as George Bush used these same tactics in the last two elections, by demonizing ordinary Americans and accusing those who disagreed with him as being unpatriotic. I watched in 2004 as incumbent President Bush promised Americans in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan that he would take care of them, as he cooly stood by and let them dishonor John Kerry’s honorable service. (Had the opposite have been true in this election, Democrats would have been denigrated to the status of heretics by the other party). Unfortunately, eight years have passed and no significant domestic policy changes have occurred except for the Patriot Act, which largely curbed our civil liberties and No Child Left Behind, which was severely underfunded, otherwise those folks in Ohio and elsewhere were very much forgotten.
So now the United States has sixty days to choose between two men, who both claim to hold the key to our progress. While many John McCain supporters claim that he is not George Bush in sheep’s clothing, many remain unconvinced. When you look at the direction President Bush has taken the country, and understand that John McCain has been in line with the large majority of his policies, its hard to believe that he’s the maverick that is going to “shake up the Washington establishment.”
John McCain’s speech focused a great deal on his military service, for which he should be honored. His speech also touched on the economy and how he seeks to change America’s course, because he recognizes that the country is moving in the wrong direction. This is striking because for 6 of the last 8 years, the Republican party who claims to represent true American values, have held power in the legislative and executive branches and have not been able to make the changes to the Washington. It is this party, who seems to have forgotten the core principles our founding fathers took great pains to create. America’s founding fathers wrote that “all men are created equal and are endowed with unalienable rights including Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Their speeches throughout the week, and policies that exclude all groups, reflect their rejection of the very creed that freed our nation.
Instead, their policies have helped to increase the inequality in this country, with tax cuts for the rich and severe under-investment in education, healthcare, science and technology. While McCain showed promise, he has reversed his positions on energy and immigration, helping him to fall back in line with his party’s base.
When Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani ridiculed the “others” for freeloading off the government, and explained that Republicans know the difference between good and evil, he was saying, “you are either with us or against us.” Their hypocrisy could be the topic of several other articles, but what was even more compelling was the large audience cheering them on with rhythmic and regular chants of “USA” and “Country First,” laughing along with their fairly crude humor. The Republican party fails to recognize that every American is the grandson or granddaughter of generations of immigrants who came to the United States for religious freedom and economic opportunities. As someone who is a daughter of South Asian immigrants, who learned about the American dream, by watching her parents work hard to send their children to the best schools and raised them with strong values and instilled great patriotism and commitment to our communities, these images of the “other America” were eerie and saddening. John McCain might claim to understand the world, but the RNC convention made sure that anyone who was not on the Republican side, felt extremely alienated and bewildered.
If the United States is to heal after The horrendous 9/11 attacks, The agonizing and underrepresented wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The racial profiling against Americans at the behest of feds that were in hot pursuit of terrorists, The resurgence of race and class wars and vast inequality, The diminished standing of the United States and our lack of forward vision, then we need someone who has the strength of character and conviction and a strong devotion to all Americans, not just those who fit an ideal, defined by the Republican party. This is not an opinion shared by one, but by many, as evidenced by the ten million dollars raised by the Obama campaign, the day after the RNC went on the attack.
America needs a President who will lead them into the future, one who has lived the American dream, who has an informed world view and can bring innovation, creativity and integrity to the role and who has a definition of American, that encompasses all, not only the few, this is why Barack Obama will make a great President.