Saturday, October 18, 2008

Little Pockets of Real America

A group of progressive thing men got together 232 years ago and decided to try something new. They worked together. They fought the British. In the end, they came up something pretty remarkable: The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is a remarkable document. Just take a look at the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sometimes we forget how good we have it this country. The Chinese government continually blocks its peoples access to the Internet. In some countries such as Saudi Arabia, the government controls the press. Even in Europe, people do not have the right for hate speech. The US still holds that hateful, ignorant, and hateful groups like the KKK, the Aryan Nation, and Hebrew Israelites can speak their vile hatred.

One of the most precious items in the First Amendment is the freedom of press. Without a free press, we will cease to be a free country. there has been much complaint from some quarters that the press is biased. This is true to some extent. No one is free from bias. It is part of who we are. Some say that the press isn't digging up dirt on Barack Obama and his relationship with Bill Ayers. Some have said the news media focuses too much on Sarah Palin. Some even suggest that the press needs "behavior modification":

UPDATE: Related thoughts from Jennifer Rubin:"If MSM wants to be treated as impartial arbiter, a 'watchdog' and not a lapdog of one candidate, its members should consider some behavior modification."

Behavior modification, hmm. Her post doesn't indicate what kind of behavior modification would be appropriate. It has the connotation that journalists need to go to a re-education camp. Perhaps people like Ms. Rubin can glean some ideas from the Soviets. They were masters at "behavior modification" for journalists and others who didn't toe the line to the governments rule. To me, to even suggest behavior modification for journalists is not very pro American.

Perhaps Ms. Rubin is upset that the news media dared to report on a speech Sarah Palin gave in Greensboro, NC:

"We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe" -- here the audience interrupted Palin with applause and cheers -- "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation."

She tried to clarify her comment about "the real America" and that all she was suggesting was that the best of America was not necessarily centered on Washington DC. She didn't address what she meant by pro-America areas of the country. Do pro-Americans only exist in those areas she visits? Does she consider areas where there have been major protests against the Iraqi war to be anti-American and unpatriotic? Since she hasn't visited vast areas of the United States, does she mean those areas are anti-American and unpatriotic?

I would have given her the benefit of the doubt that she just misspoke and that she didn't mean to say that those Americans who live in big cities are anti-American and unpatriotic. However, it seems McCain campaign advisors consider certain areas of the country to be fake, specifically, North Virginia. Ben Smith has the video.

But it is not just the McCain campaign that keeps harping on the theme of being anti-American. Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnosota, a Republican, keeps linking the words liberal, Leftist, and anti-American:

She stops short of calling most of the members of Congress anti-American and suggests the news media should look into it. The video has been heavily edited but a Youtube search turns up some other interesting ones.

Leftists, liberals and anti-American, perhaps Bachmann would be happy to be the next Joseph McCarthy

A lot of divisive discourse has been coming from McCain, Palin, and many Republicans. Words like"little pockets of real America", fake Virginia, or calling liberals and Leftists anti-American do not seek to unite. Blaming the problems of Palin and McCain on the press seems a very desperate measure. It is all these factors which has lead me to research on my own who Barack Obama is and what he hopes to accomplish. He doesn't speak of "little pockets of real America", fake parts of Virginia, nor does he equate those with differing views of being anti-American.

From his convention speech:
But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

I would have been happy to support McCain. He is a decent person and has served our country well. The divisive rhetoric he and Palin have been spewing lately have made me fearful of the direction McCain and Palin and their supporters want to take our country. I think the audacity to hope is the way to go. I am a "little pocket of 'real' America" and so are the other 300 million of my countrymen.

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