Friday, September 7, 2012

Politics Isn't a Blood Sport

Bill Clinton gave an awesome speech at the Democratic National Convention. There was plenty of powerful material in there, but one phrase in particular stood out to me: "Politics isn't a blood sport."

I think this speaks to what is wrong with the Republican Party—and this isn’t something that has just happened in the last few years during the TeaParty-ization of the party. Clinton praised Obama for being committed to “constructive cooperation.” He cited as examples the fact that Obama brought into his administration Republicans (Secretary of Defense, Army and Transportation) and two former opponents from the 2008 Democratic primaries (Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden). Clinton went on to say: 
And the signal that sends to the rest of the world, that democracy does not have a -- have to be a blood sport, it can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.
It’s obvious from the Republicans’ actions in the last three-and-a-half years that they no longer believe in constructive cooperation, but people act like this is something new. However, there is an ugly side to the right-wing that has existed for a long time. In fact, I think there is a large contingent in the right-wing who believe that only Republicans should be in the White House.

When Bill Clinton took office in 1992, conservatives immediately went into attack mode, devoting enormous resources in the attempt to discover anything, no matter how insignificant, they could use to discredit Clinton enough to defeat him in 1996.

When the election of 2000 was being disputed in Florida, mobs gathered outside the Vice-presidential residence in Washington, D.C. (where Al Gore and family were living) yelling, “Get out of Cheney’s house!”

The attempts to delegitimize Barack Obama are legion, and I don’t think it is all about race. It also stems from this underlying belief that the White House belongs to Republicans, and any Democrat who has the temerity to be elected is, by virtue of being a Democrat, an illegitimate president.

This is the thinking of authoritarianism: there is one legitimate political entity. It is very dangerous for the future of our country.

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