Sunday, May 9, 2010
Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater?
Yesterday, three-term Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) had his dreams of a fourth term derailed when he was eliminated during the second round of voting at Utah's GOP convention. Bennett, who supported the bailout of Wall Street as well as co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill calling for health insurance, was the target of tea party activists who felt Bennett wasn't "conservative enough." Plus, when Bennett was elected in 1992, he vowed only to serve two terms, which obviously, he had exceeded.
While the GOP faithful and political strategists alike are salivating at the prospects of an enormous Democratic bloodbath during the midterm elections, not all GOP stalwarts are safe eitherformer Arizona Congressman JD Hayworth (the buffoonish radio commentator who said if gay marriage exists than why not man-horse marriage) is locked in a tight primary battle to defeat Senator John McCain. And Florida Governor Charlie Crist, once a darling of the Republican party mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate, has vowed to run for the Senate as an independent rather than face what would have been a lashing at the hands of tea party-supported Marco Rubio.
I understand the anger that many have about the direction in which this country is going. But it wasn't running smoothly only to suddenly derail since Barack Obama has been president. During George W. Bush's presidency, we were mired in war, a poor economy, scandals and social Puritanism, all under the false guise of patriotism. And very little actually happened. Instead of letting the country continue falling apart while Congress played its usual games of pass-the-buck, the Democratic majority actually made change happen. And the Republicans, more content to have issues to use as bludgeons when running for re-election, stood by and did nothing. Is the country better? No, not by a long shot, but would reversing course completely after a year help our progress? Doubtful.
While many are excited by the fervor incited by the tea party movement, what it incites in me is fear. I can't help but wonder if this same movement would have gained such momentum if someone other than the nation's first African-American president were in office. Passion is exciting; violence is not. Ideas are exciting; hatred and racial epithets are not. I don't believe those people who gathered in Boston Harbor in 1773 called their opponents the "n-word" or "faggot" or "baby killer." (Maybe those in the Continental Congress did, though.) And no, Sarah Palin, it's not the media increasing the violent nature of the dialogue, it's people like you, who smile and wink in one second and then fall back on wholly inaccurate demagoguery the next.
I was no fan of Senator Bennett, and I do think that term limits should be enacted in Congress. But Bennett proved he was willing to put the well-being of the people of our country ahead of scoring political points. I fear that his successor, as well as many others who may get swept in as part of the anti-incumbent movement, will see stonewalling as the key to progress. And to me, no progress + lack of basic human civility = #AMERICAFAIL.