Forget Primarying Obama
Can You Say "Democrats for Mitt Romney?
(A Father-Daughter Exchange)
A couple of days ago, I wrote an article on these OEN pages. It was called "Obama as Trojan Horse: Or Twenty Straight Years of Republican Rule." I revised the article and sent it to McClatchy's Lexington Herald-Leader. This time I directly referenced our "Democratic" representative Ben Chandler and called the piece "Anybody but Obama and Chandler: Can You Say "Democrats for Mitt Romney?'" About Chandler, I observed that he was especially guilty of selling out in the recent debt ceiling vote, because he "represents" a district in Kentucky which is such a poor state. "He stood with the rich;" I said. He didn't have to. "Many other Democrats did not."
I was suggesting that in view of Chandler's betrayal, Obama's Republican policies, and the success of his Tea Party opponents at "governing from below," the Democrats might do better as an out-of-power party. And instead of primarying Obama (which seems highly unlikely) it might be easier and accomplish the same purpose (of moving Democrats to the left) by forming a "Democrats for Mitt Romney" movement and energizing that.
The response to my suggestions was incredible. I never anticipated such furor from my fellow activists and even friends in the Lexington area. However, the critique that caused me deepest introspection came from my own beloved daughter -- an immigration lawyer graduated a couple of years ago from UCLA Law School. She wrote:
"Hi, Dad. Thanks for sharing this with us. I think it's great that you're writing for the internet.
Having said that, I'd really like to discourage you from writing in this tone. I don't think this kind of thing comes from a centered place. And I don't think that it does anyone any good. It is not consciousness-raising. It is not an inspiring call to action. And (no offense) it isn't even clever. I think you're so much bigger than this. You write beautifully! (Case in point: Oscar's baptism homily). I think when you're writing what you're supposed to be writing, your words soar, and they can really do good in the world. You're paying attention, you can make connections and you're committed to deep social justice. I was disappointed to find this piece bitter and ugly and clearly aimed at the wrong target. There is a lot to say about the objectively terrible deal that was just brokered. But what you've written really rang hollow for me. You can, and should, be writing in the vein of people you truly admire like Oscar Romero and Parker Palmer. Right? Finally, I think writing this way is not good for your health--physical and spiritual. This does not sound like something written by a devoted student of meditation. And I can't imagine you could write this with a steady heart rate. My own stomach was in knots reading it.
I'm sorry for this harsh critique. I hope it doesn't discourage you from sending me other things you write! I just think you're so much better than this. I'm really proud of you and your fierce intellectualism. I think you have so much to offer the world, even in retirement. But this is not something I would proudly share as an example of your brilliance. I love you! -- Maggie"
I love you too!
Thank you so much for your wonderful note and for taking the time to give such careful consideration to the article I shared with you last night. Your words were so gentle but firm; I'm very proud of you. And I'm sorry that I turned your stomach in knots.
Writing the article had the opposite effect for me. My stomach had been turned in knots for weeks as I followed the debt ceiling debate, as I made repeated phone calls to the White House and to Ben Chandler's office. I felt sick and broken-hearted as I watched Obama ignore people like me and his base, confident in the single ace he holds, viz. that all of us will vote for him, no matter what he does simply because he's better than any Republican alternative. Calling his bluff and all of that by its true name -- hypocrisy and fraud -- actually made me feel better. I'm sure it lowered my blood pressure and slowed my heart beat.
Still, I agree that all of what you said was helpful and mostly true. I agree with you that the tone of the article ran the risk of and probably succeeded in being off-putting. I agree too that I'd rather write in that other voice that in most circumstances (and perhaps even in this one) is more effective. I really don't enjoy vexing you, your brothers, or my friends. But at the same time, I think there is a time for a gentle and sweet voice, and a time to tell it like it is. I wasn't trying to be clever; I was trying to tell the truth.
And, I'm sorry to say, Obama is the right target -- along, of course with the Republicans. Together they are dismantling the New Deal -- and without Obama even putting up a fight. According to John Conyers, Obama is the one who put Social Security on the table without the issue first being brought up by the Republicans. Again without a fight, Obama is the one who is forcing the poor, the sick, and the elderly to pay for the greedy gambles of Wall Street. And with the debt ceiling legislation, he has painted the nation into a corner that makes cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid inevitable not just likely. None of that had to be. By all accounts invoking the 14th Amendment would have prevented the eventuation of the "impending disaster" he and the Republicans used to force through this terribly destructive legislation.
The problem is that Obama-lovers (and I've tried hard to continue being one) are in denial. And that's what makes them unwilling to face the truth and shocked and appalled when they hear it. The man has shown himself to be an equivocator, charlatan and a Trojan Horse Republican. Those facts have been there for a long, long time, and we've been turning a blind eye. Please do read the article in Opednews that I referenced. It's by Glen Greenwald, and it appeared in yesterday's edition.
And speaking of Obama-lovers, I continue to pray specifically for him every morning (I've never done that for any president). And my prayer is always, "May he be remembered as the best president the United States has ever had. May he be filled with loving kindness. May he be safe from all internal and external harm. May he be well in mind and heart and body. May he find peace, and be truly happy." Believe it or not, I still have hopes for him.
Again, thanks for your note so filled with that loving kindness. I pray for your safety, peace and happiness too -- and for Kerry's, Eva's and Oscar's. Can't wait to see you next week!! Love, Dad"
I stand by those words. It's truly time to take off the gloves with Obama. And I'd be so interested in knowing what OEN readers think of the "Democrats for Mitt Romney" idea. Could it be an alternative to primarying Obama? I know Ben Chandler has considered the possibility. (He reads the Lexington Herald-Leader.) And who knows: maybe the idea even made it to the President's desk -- through a fuming Chandler. I hope so. Somehow, they've got to feel our heartbroken pain and profound disappointment. Somehow they have to understand that we mean business when we say we won't support them in November 2012 if they stay on their present path.