It’s probably not as clever as I’d hoped. The title of my post takes a direct stab at Obama’s campaign to unify America. There has been A Slobbering Love Affair for Obama in the media generally, and an obvious lack of holding our newest president to account for his actions or lack of action. The media tended to be all over any misstep on the part of the last administration (much of it deserved by my lights), and completely ignores similar behavior on the part of the new administration. We need our journalists back, we need our news agencies back, as a nation we once relied on news sources to provide some much needed perspective – instead, we’ve a whole new crop of advocacy “journalists” who seem to be busy servicing everything but the public interest.
Bush promised to be a unifier also, just like Obama promised… it seems Obama’s doing an even less effective job than Bush. The biggest difference (follow the link, it is a slobber-fest) is that the failure to unify the electorate was all Bush’s fault – not the left-wing rabble rousers. Currently, it IS the right-wing rabble rousers that are the reason for Obama’s failure to unify the electorate. I got tired of hearing left wingers say, “He’s not MY president.” I can’t stand hearing right-wingers say it now, but I, well throw up a little, when I hear left wingers chide right wingers for the same actions. Moreover, when Bush was president, left wingers were “right” to call the administration and others down for saying dissent was not patriotic or un-American… and yet that is precisely what is being done now. The DNC is running ads that are deliberately divisive, and Obama is joining in the derision of those who oppose his policies. Our country is tanking, and it’s tanking because we’re forgetting our AA.
There are several left wing writers trying to call on all citizens to pay attention to the arguments of our founders, and though I don’t generally agree with their political views, I do agree with some things that are fundamentally more important. Howard Fineman wrote an excellent book where I got the title for my post. My “AA” is an abbreviation for part of his title – The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates that Define and Inspire our Country. Though I believe Fineman was a part of the slobbering love affair, I also believe he has a compelling argument for us, the electorate, to not forget our roots.
Why mention Fineman if I find him too far to the left? Because despite his anecdotal bits and pieces he uses to illustrate these foundational arguments (and his obvious slant when discussing the enduring debates), he is right about the nature of our American nature. The first two paragraphs of his introduction entitled For the Sake of Argument make the point:
First, I owe you a definition, then an explanation. You will see the word “argument” throughout this book. By “argument” I mean something besides shouting or name calling, though both often are part of the transaction. I mean a clash between at least two people (or regions, political parties, candidates, or economic interests) over facts and ideas in the search for answers – in this case, answers to questions about the future and fate of America. The gist (the “argument,” if you will) of this book is:
We are the Arguing Country, born in, and born to, debate. The habit of doing so – the urgent, almost neurotic need to do so – makes us unique and gives us our freedom, creativity, and strength. By my count, there are thirteen foundational arguments that comprise our public life – hence the title of this book. Rather than argue too much, which is the conventional wisdom’s critique, we in fact do not argue enough, about the fundamentals. If we fail to draw strength from our argumentative nature, we risk losing what made us great and gives us hope. Our disputes are not a burden, but a blessing.
Pick up the book, give it a look, and argue boldly for what you believe. Engage in the public debate. It’s very American. Get your dose of AA today, the enduring American Arguments.
P.S. The picture is from the Oregon Gardens, I called it Rest Stop for a Sunny Day. It is a place to cool off, get quiet, and then re-engage in our country’s great debates. While shooting pictures in the Gardens, my brother and I engaged in the discussion of chapter three: The Role of Faith.