The GOP has a unique talent of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Republicans scored a historic victory in the midterm elections last November 2, winning a majority in the House of Representatives, more seats in the Senate, majorities in countless state legislatures, and many state governorships. Less than 3 months later, that sweeping victory is forgotten and the same old GOP is back, eager to make nice, and cowered by the Left’s outright lies blaming the Tucson murders on “right wing rhetoric.”
The “date night” seating of pairs of Democrats-Republicans at Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) speech last night was a barf-inducing spectacle. Whose bright idea was that? To Obama’s injunction for bipartisan cooperation, the GOP leaders should have retorted:
“Where was ‘bipartisan cooperation’ when you and your party won the elections in 2008? Why wasn’t there a ‘date night’ display of bipartisan harmony at your 2009 and 2010 SOTU speeches, when the Democrats reigned in Congress?”
Republicans and Conservatives and the TEA party movement (not the same!) have nothing to apologise for. Partisan
bickering disagreement and disharmony is nothing less than an American tradition and defines the American national character. As George Will explains in “Tea Party Turmoil Echoes America’s Past,” NewsMax, January 24, 2011:
The tone of today’s politics was anticipated and is vindicated by a book published 30 years ago. The late Samuel Huntington’s “American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony” (1981) clarifies why it is a mistake to be alarmed by today’s political excitements and extravagances, a mistake refuted by America’s past.
The “predominant characteristics” of the Revolutionary era, according to Gordon Wood, today’s pre-eminent historian of that period, were “fear and frenzy, the exaggerations and the enthusiasm, the general sense of social corruption and disorder.”
In the 1820s, Daniel Webster said “society is full of excitement.” Of the 1830s, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The country is full of rebellion; the country is full of kings. Hands off! Let there be no control and no interference in the administration of this kingdom of me.”
As the 20th century dawned, Theodore Roosevelt found a “condition of excitement and irritation in the popular mind.” In 1920, George Santayana wrote, “America is all one prairie, swept by a universal tornado”….
By the time Huntington’s book appeared, American had had four of what he called “periods of creedal passion” — the Revolutionary era (1770s), the Jacksonian era (the 1830s), the Progressive era (1900-1920) and the 1960s. We are now in the fifth.
The American Creed’s values are…the 18th century’s preoccupation with defending liberty against government…”individualistic, democratic, egalitarian, and hence basically anti-government and anti-authority.” The various values “unite in imposing limits on power and on the institutions of government. The essence of constitutionalism is the restraint of governmental power through fundamental law.”
What made the American Revolution a novel event was that Americans did not declare independence because their religion, ethnicity, language, or culture made them incompatible with the British. Rather, it was a political act based on explicit principles.
So in America more than in Europe, nationalism is, Huntington said, “intellectualized”: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Who holds them? Americans. Who are Americans? Those who hold those truths to be self-evident.
America is an inherently “disharmonic society” because the ideals of its creed are always imperfectly realized, and always endangered. Government is necessary but, Huntington says, “the distinctive aspect of the American Creed is its anti-government character. Opposition to power and suspicion of government as the most dangerous embodiment of power are the central themes of American political thought.”
…Periods of creedal passion involve returns to first principles — hence the tea partyers orientation to 1773. “Americans,” Huntington believed, “become polarized less over the substance of their beliefs than over how seriously to take those beliefs.” Today, the general conservatism of this center-right country and especially the tea party impulse demand renewed seriousness about the creed’s core skepticism about government. Modern liberalism’s handicap is its unhappiness with this core.
“It has been our fate as a nation,” wrote historian Richard Hofstadter, “not to have ideologies but to be one.” It is an excellent fate, even if — actually, because — the creed periodically, as now, makes America intensely disharmonic.
Obama and the Left’s call for “bipartisan cooperation and harmony” is really their attempt to silence us. To that, we say:
“Hell no. To be partisan and disharmonious is to an American! Dissent is patriotic.”
The GOP must stand firm and suppress its slavish impulse to make nice with our political enemies who conceal their daggers in their smiling entreaties for “harmony.” Remember what the voters resoundingly told you last November 2. And remember also this:
Just as we walloped the Dems last November, we can and will do the same to you.