Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Unlike so many right-wing nuts, I think our president's inauguration speech was meaty enough to deserve a little digestion. Speaking with their mouths full, some of the aforementioned headed to the twitterverse, even as the words were still on Barack Obama's lips, with claims that it was fascist, or worse. On Fox "news," talkers were declaiming his lack of reaching out to Republicans. As if he'd won the election by making clear the differences between him and Rs or something.
I agree with those who've characterized it as his most progressive speech; I think it was deep and comprehensive, too, laying out his priorities and where he differs from the goals of Rs. And why shouldn't he? How far to reach out to a party that, literally from day one, plotted to derail his agenda, to work against everything for which he stood? Like the concept that caring for those in need makes for a more healthy society, as opposed to a bunch of "takers." When visions diverge so much, with such different consequences for the country; and when one party has been entirely intransigent, voting en bloc against everything while the other has proffered compromise on every major initiative, I think the greater movement can only be from right to left. Obama has always started well to the right of the farthest left.
Bipartisanship remains a worthy goal; and Barack Obama has indicated his willingness to address "entitlements," with the reservation that any changes ought not affect those most in need. Hard to disagree. When today's R party, as constituted in Congress, refuses even to acknowledge that global warming exists (every one of their members of the science committee voted that it doesn't!), where are the opportunities for reaching out? It starts with Rs becoming willing to address it as real, a move only they can make.
Pundits say it was mostly a civil rights speech; it was that, all right. But it was a pretty clear laying out of economic issues as well: that we mustn't have to choose between educating our kids and caring for the elderly. In other words, the R budget ideas, as exemplified by the Ryan budget onto which Congressional Rs happily signed, is a false choice.
Nor was it in any way, as those RW tweeters concluded, anti-capitalist. As is so obvious that even I have said it here several times, the success of capitalism depends on its support of a viable and mobile middle class, able, among other things, to buy the stuff businesses make. The increasing sequestration of money among a very few is what's anti-capitalist, if the goal is maintaining it for more than the current generation. The speech was a call to our greater selves, and, I think, a plea to end the intransigence, in the name of our timely needs. And I liked his statement that the proper role of government will never be settled; because times will always dictate that. These times are these times. They require government, and its legislators, to do their job.
I relished the diversity of participants in the ceremony. America will never again be mostly white; and I think diversity is a fundament of our strength. Yet, without doubt, many on the right (those who could stomach watching) were repulsed by it. Watching Barack and Michele dance last night, I smiled. And, without doubt, vast numbers of our country threw stuff at their TVs. Likewise, I was moved that the President stopped, before exiting the stage, to take in the view of the National Mall crowed with people, one last time, wistful and, I think, deeply thoughtful. On the other hand, I don't doubt the haters saw it as nothing more than egotism.
It will ever be thus, until and unless the Republican party takes back its message from teabaggers and extremist haters, paranoiacs and conspiracy spinners.
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