WASHINGTON, D.C.—What is it about old American sayings that seem to never go out of style? Remember, “What a tangle web we weave, when first we practice to deceive?” Or for rural dwellers, who often find themselves living on small family farms like I did. “Chickens always come home to roost!” You’d think Ivy league educated politicians in our nation’s capitol would have long since figured out the meaning of these old adages, and would be on a path to fixing problems, compromising and throwing away bad habits which never seem to get us any closer to doing the right thing as a nation and as a citizen of the world. The Democratic party uses class warfare just as it did 25 years ago, and the Republican party has pandered to the bigots within their ranks so long, that they don’t even recognize that behavior anymore. It just becomes a part of our national debate, and anyone who dares to call a Democrat a liar and the Republicans bigots is vilified as not being totally fair. Or as an old friend recently said to me, “You have been in Hollywood too long.”
Fairness didn’t get Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, George Washington or any of our other great national leaders too far, so why should I start now? The President spent the early part of this week clogging up traffic all over West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, while making his case for reelection. The Republicans rallied and debated in front of people who booed an American hero; a soldier serving in Iraq, who happens to be a gay American, while previously applauding the subject of a man dying from a lack of healthcare, to cheering on its Tea Party hero, Texas Governor Perry, who looked stunned by the applause he received for admitting to sending almost 300 inmates to their deaths.
Photograph is Courtesy: Frederick Dunn
Not that I’m against the death penalty, or against healthcare, but when did we lose our ability to at least pretend that we could debate without lauding death and even alternative lifestyles? Perhaps the better question would be, when did we lose our ability to fake being civilized citizens of the world? In the 1960s public lynching all over the South and the Southwest and even sometimes in the Midwest were events that many Americans took their children to, with a picnic basket after church and spectators felt it was similar to going to a ballgame. Those people, who behaved like despicable humans are excused by people who simply said at the time, “They don’t understand what they are doing. We are not all like that.”
We now have had some of the most civilized people in our nation spend President Obama’s first 24 months in office by calling him a Muslim, a terrorist, a Kenyan and other things that cannot be repeated. Even some so-called Catholic priests have engaged in the banter. Then again, any member of the Catholic Church would try to deflect attention away from their behavior in hiding pedophiles within their midst for decades, if not centuries. The Republican party utilized the communication skills of Southerner Newt Gingrich, who in the 1990s was glorified as a hero by his party for referring to First Lady Hillary Clinton as a “bitch,” and then in the past three years referring to his own president in some of the most outlandish, vile and demeaning descriptions that the party of Lincoln and Reagan could come up with.
Yes, the republicans played the race card like poker champions. However, anyone who called them on their hatred was actually accused of playing the race card. The Republican party has mastered the ability to be chameleon-like, and that was learned as early as the Reagan administration and has been utilized ever since that era.
However, President Obama did not do himself any favors. The discipline that he mastered and the class he showed in the face of the worst bigoted attacks on any African American male in our nation since the Republican party used to try to destroy Martin Luther King in the 1960s was admirable. From Donald Trump to Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and even readers of this column, they surely understood America’s innate ability to turn on the faucet of racism and spew out words such as, “he’s scary, he’s not one of us, I don’t trust him,” and the 21st Century’s newest Republican attack phrase, “he’s a Muslim,” to their benefit and to scare anyone about the thought of an African American male having real power in this country.
Though President Obama did himself a disservice when he wasted his vital first two years in office fighting for healthcare for all Americans, when he should have spent his time working on unemployment and the economy. Now he’s determined to do so, however, it is a little too late to try to work with a party that has a vested interest in seeing his policies for the country and America itself to fail. Had he worked on unemployment from his first day in office and realized that healthcare was an issue that he could have dealt with during a good economy, he’d be more popular to his own base and to the nation as a whole. Everyone feels good when the economy is working fine. Just look at the forgiveness William Jefferson Clinton received for lying under oath, having an affair with a White House intern and suborning perjury.
There is no doubt in any honest American’s mind that the disastrous economic conditions that he inherited was a colossal mess. However, his insistence on continuing to increase government spending left Americans empty and with hopelessness. What once filled the souls of many young people was hope for the future. The tears that many people of all races and ethnicities in America had in their eyes on election night of 2008 was the fact that our nation had temporarily gotten over a barrier that many people never believed would be a reality in their lifetime; that an African American male would be so embraced by a majority of Americans and voted into the highest office in the land, was mistaken by this newly elected president as a mandate for his healthcare agenda. That was not only a mistake, but one that may possibly cost him a second term in office.
What this president forgot, was something that a Southern born African American would have perhaps never forgotten. That there is a generation in our nation that never wanted to see this day, and they set out to malign and destroy him. They have engaged in hatred, hateful rumors, ones they never would have contributed to if the president were a Caucasian man or woman in the office. And that his only protection to their threats and hatred was to make the economy stronger, deal with unemployment and then, and only then, could the president have gone back to the nation that chose him over a war hero, who looks like every other president we have had in our nation. Obama’s white grandparents, though very loving to him, and of very modest means did not and could not have taught him what black grandparents teach their grandchildren every day. “That an African American male has to be smarter, more honest, harder working and more polite than your peers to receive even a modicum of respect that your peers will receive automatically.” Though President Obama is a genius, his true failing was forgetting that it is the economy that always convinces voters in the U.S. to either stand by you for a second term or to throw you out for someone else.
However, the temporary win of a possible Republican as a presidential winner is also just as tenuous as this current president’s prospects of remaining in office after the election of 2012. The venom in which the Republican party has engaged in hateful conduct and rhetoric has longstanding and long term consequences as well. Remember, that anyone over the age of 35 still remembers that it was the Republican party that voted against the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the mid 1960s. And that it was George W. Bush who broke the barrier, and finally turned African Americans into people who were willing to vote for a republican candidate, when more minorities voted for him in 2000 than voted for former Vice President Al Gore in that election.
11 years later, the Republican party has now turned itself backwards on a course that will be several generations again before their disdain and open disrespect for the first African American president will be forgotten. Perhaps it may never be forgotten. So for both President Obama and his opposing Republican party, remember that indeed at the end of the day, chickens do always come home to roost.
Please pray for our brave soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, who are fighting the terrorists for our safety, security and all the freedoms we enjoy.