July 28, 2004
POLITICS: How Many Americas?
Barack Obama, in last night's keynote address:
[E]ven as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, thereís not a liberal America and a conservative America ó thereís the United States of America. Thereís not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; thereís the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But Iíve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we donít like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.
[I]n our own time, there are those who seek to divide us. One community against another. Urban against rural. City against suburb. Whites against blacks. Men against women. Straights against gays. Americans against Americans.
Um, doesn't this create a bit of a jarring contrast to a campaign that, with the addition of John Edwards to the ticket, has made "Two Americas" a central theme? Of course, "Two Americas" speaks of economic, not cultural divisions - but it's still an inherently divisive, Manichean, us vs. them view of the country.
Of course, the Democrats' overarching theme here is that there should be no cultural issues in politics - we should just let them dictate the terms of conservatives' surrender. Note that in all the talk about common values there's no attempt to deal with the Democrats' actual positions on the issues that the people, in a democracy, have every right to disagree over. Much closer to the Democratic heart - as far as the party's governing philosophy - is Ron Reagan's statement:
[I]t does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many.
Translation: my moral concerns should be the basis for government policy; yours are just a personal opinion, driven by that awful thing, "theology."
I liked Obama's speech because of that section. But I agree that it raises eyebrows when your keynote speaker talks unity, while your campaign looks to exploit division.
As far as Ron Reagan is concerned; that was shameless partisanship. I don't have a problem with more dialogue about Stem Cell research, but his address was a poorly veiled hatchet-job against the Bush Administration.