As I promised as a follow-up to the linked post from Frontline, here, from the Ethics Alarms archives, is a post I wrote on March, 23, 2010. It had just two comments, but then fewer than 200 people have ever read it, according to my blog’s statistics. I guess that means it’s all my fault: if I had just been prominent and successful enough to justify anyone paying attention to what I wrote, maybe the last decade’s rot could have been averted.
I guess we’ll never know.
At least the old post can serve a purpose now, as perspective, or perhaps to remind us that we really have no excuse if our marvelous experiment is brought down by hate and dead ethics alarms.
It was all there to see long ago, and there was plenty of time to stop it. All it took was leadership.
To listen to the conservative talk radio circuit and read the Right’s wing of the blogosphere, one would think that the United States is in the midst of a coup right out of “Seven Days in May,” or a foreign take-over like the one portrayed in “Red Dawn,” or even an alien infestation by disguised lizards, as in the sci-fi mini-series “V.” Hysteria is everywhere. Dark threats of revolution are not being whispered, but shouted. “I really think civil war is inevitable,” one blogger wrote yesterday….
Cool the rhetoric, guys. This is irresponsible, and completely unwarranted. It is also dangerous, because it takes what is at its core a principled disagreement about national policies and recasts it as a sinister plot. If Republicans and conservatives really think this is the way to regain power, they are both wrong and deranged. This is destroying the country to save it.
I know, I know. The Angry Left paved the way for this kind of toxic distrust. For eight years it shouted that the Bush administration was some kind of evil empire run by evil geniuses (but stupid evil geniuses) that gleefully stole two elections, engineered a fake terrorist attack to take away our rights and a fake war to enrich their oil baron pals, and intentionally let New Orleans suffer because, you know, they all hated black people.
Writing about this in 2006 [on the Ethics Scoreboard], I said…
“There are many Americans who now believe all of these things, and many more who believe at least one of them. …Fanned by intemperate bloggers, abetted by an irresponsible and slovenly news media and given what passes for credibility in our celebrity-worshiping culture by celebrity loud-mouths (“I hate the President!” screams Rosanne Barr to a cheering crowd on her current HBO special), the tenor of public opposition to the Bush Administration is hateful rather than critical. There is less trust in the national government than at any time since Watergate.
…The Democrats have now spent six years chipping away at the public’s respect and trust of their elected government and its institutions. It has done this not simply by challenging the policies, performance and governing philosophy of the party in power, as a responsible opposing party should and must do, but by exploiting rumor, innuendo, class and race divisions and ignorance to plant doubts about the Bush administration’s motives, dedication to the public welfare and commitment to democracy…This unconscionable picking at the fabric of the public’s faith in our system of government was successful at eroding support for the Bush Administration and Republican Party, but with disastrous consequences…
Many Democrats have pointedly used the old ironic description of the U.S. policy in Vietnam to describe the war in Iraq: “Destroy the country in order to save it.” If the nation the Republicans are willing to “destroy in order to save” is Iraq, the country the Democrats have risked destroying by planting and cultivating the contagions of suspicion and cynicism is the United States of America. One certain benefit of the Democrats gaining power will be that the party will have to begin building faith in our system of government rather than tearing it down.”
Barack Obama promised to rebuild that faith, but it has continued to crumble, aided by recklessly arrogant politics practiced by the empowered Democrats and their adoption, predictably, of the kind of corruption that the Republican wallowed in during their time in the sun. It is not too late, but conservatives and Republicans must realize, as the Democrats did not during the Bush years, that picking at the fabric of democracy and exhausting our nation’s spirit by demonizing fellow Americans is destructive and foolhardy. They will prove themselves unworthy of the power they attain by their method of attaining it, and will find themselves in charge of an ungovernable country.
Stop the fear-mongering, name-calling, race-baiting and personal epithets. Condemn the intemperate and uncivil. Show respect for the President, and for your colleagues. Have some humility. Work to bring the country together, not tear it apart.
Cool it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.