Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Politics vs. Fanaticism

I find videos like this both amusing and disturbing, but not necessarily for the reasons the makers of the video might have intended.

Let's get the obvious points and counter-points that the video brings up out of the way: That Sarah Palin's supporters are uneducated zombies who get their political opinions spoon fed to them by FOX News talking points; that Obama has just as many mindless supporters who are simply swayed by his elegant speaking; and that the makers of the video are obviously going to edit out any intelligent responses. (Points which the makers of the video address in the "more info" section of their YouTube page, if you're interested.)

No, the thing that really gets me about this video are the points brought up from 3:23 through 4:10. Because a lot of these things are very similar to the things I was saying about Geroge W. Bush in 2005.

(1) "I think that [Sarah Palin] would acknowledge a system of government in the United States, rather than focus on an administration of czars."
"I'm an American. We don't have czars in America."

Okay, I'll admit right off the bat that I'm a little hazy on the whole "czar" concept. Wikipedia describes it by saying "the title Czar (derived from Caesar) meant Emperor in the European medieval sense of the term, that is, a ruler who claims the same rank as a Roman emperor, with the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch)"

So what I think this woman is getting at is that Obama's the head Emperor and his cabinet are the Czar of the Interior, the Czar of Defense, the Czar of Education, etc. I'm not sure where this thinking comes from; they have no more power than the previous administration did, and have done nothing to indicate to me that they believe they're now appointed for life.

Here's why this one reminded me of myself: Another thing we don't have in America is imperial dynasties. This is why I didn't want to vote for Hillary Clinton. After two Bushes and 1 Clinton already, setting up a second Clinton struck me too much as dynasty building. If Jeb Bush ever runs for president, will this woman not vote for him because it's reinforcing the Bush family dynasty? Or are unAmerican methods of government okay with her when it's her party doing it?

Not the same as the czar comparison, because the Bushes all served sequential terms, whereas czars all rule at once, but if you're going to talk about the American government being run in an unAmerican governmental style, then the similarity between this woman's thoughts on the right and my thoughts on the left still hit home with me.

(2) "The way I think the country is going, I'm wondering whether or not we're going to have a presidential election in 2012. I know there's some backroom talk of martial law."
"I'll give you one scenario that would absolutely do it: is if an atom bomb goes off in the United States."

In 2005 I was sure that Bush was going to find a way to lift the term limits so he could get in for a third term. I also thought there was a chance he would do away with the 2008 election all together if a terrorist attack happened sometime that year. I didn't really believe it, but I thought the possibility was there.

(3) "We're no longer an exceptional country. We're no longer the shining light, the beacon to the world of what a society should look to be as far as freedom."

I definitely felt this way during the previous administration. Of course, there was the Patriot Act, the illegal wire tapping of American citizens, and Alberto Gonzales calling the Geneva Convention "quaint" and "obsolete." There was also a study at the time that said Canada was now looked at as the most free country in the world, as opposed to Obama being recently given the Nobel Peace Prize for simply not being Bush.

So, to sum it all up, we both had the exact same fears about two radically different presidents.

What this all drives home to me is that Obama is not going to unite this country like I'd hoped. The people on the (far?) right are just as afraid of him as I was of Bush. What we're really going to need to bring this country back together in 2012 (well, 2016 hopefully) is a president who is moderate enough that neither side is going to feel threatened.

But what I've been seeing in the country in general, and this video in specific, makes me wonder if both sides wouldn't simply be unable to accept such a candidate, with the left tearing them down any chance they got for being too conservative and the right doing the same because they feel he (or she) is too liberal.

How much of this animosity from the right is a backlash effect from the animosity we on the left had for Bush? And more importantly, how much of both of them are coming from a blind dislike for the unlike? With FOX News and MSNBC both doing anything they can to tear down the parties they disagree with, people are not just opposed to the other party, they're afraid of them. I feel like we're becoming less of a country with different political parties and more of a country of different American factions. The passion and fervor that both sides are displaying seems to be getting dangerous close to zeal and fanaticism.