Sunday, February 5, 2012

President Obama Will Be Vindicated


As Ryan Lizza writes in the New Yorker: “Obama didn’t remake Washington. But his first two years stand as one of the most successful legislative periods in modern history. Among other achievements, he has saved the economy from depression, passed universal health care, and reformed Wall Street.”

So when are President Obama’s critics, people like Paul Krugman and Mitt Romney, going to offer President Obama an apology? Both have often loudly predicted that he made the economy worse and was putting America on the wrong economic path. Both are being proved wrong by the economic comeback we are in. I mention them not to pick on Krugman, who I respect or even on Romney (who I regard as a vapid twit bought and paid for by corporate interests) but to make a point: President Obama is going to have the last laugh on his critics, no matter what ideological spectrum they hail from.

President Obama is succeeding in spite of the fact that he’s been up against a Republican Party willing to destroy the economy in order to destroy him.

As the New Yorker notes:

“Two well-known Washington political analysts, Thomas Mann, of the bipartisan Brookings Institution, and Norman Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, agree. In a forthcoming book about Washington dysfunction, ‘It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,’ they write, ‘One of our two major parties, the Republicans, has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science, and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.’"

We all know the Right's critique of the President has failed. Rush Limbaugh did not get his wish! But what of the Left? The tone of the criticism of the President on lefty blogs has been persistently negative and none too prescient. According to his critics on the Left President Obama "sold out to Wall Street." He didn't "bring the change he promised," he "is just like the Republicans," etc., etc.

And I'm not even counting the shrillest voices on the Left and Right who have accused President Obama of either/or undermining national security -- by being a "secret terror-codling Muslim" -- or using drones to "murder civilians," because "he is just like the Republicans and part of the corporatist elite."

I happen to be a white 59-year-old former Republican. I happen to be a former religious right leader who came to my senses in the mid 1980s and quit the hate and fear religious right machine. (I explain about why I left the religious right in my book Crazy For God.) I also happen to have been one of the most vocal (and one of the first) Huffington Post bloggers. I was blogging there when we emailed in blogs then were called by the person who posted them. I supported then Senator Obama, just about every week during the Democratic primary season in 08. Back then I had lots of company at HP from the top down. It seemed we were all rooting for Obama.

Not anymore. I still blog at HP and other sites like Alternet but have actually been kicked off several progressive sites for continuing to support the president. (No kidding.)

About 6 months into his presidency lots of bloggers at HP and elsewhere seemed to run out of patience not just with President Obama but with reality itself. President Obama "disappointed" them. I stuck with the President because I believed then, and believe now, that he is smarter, kinder, more reliable and morally superior to his critics let alone to the political alternatives. I also know that the presidency is not as powerful as many people seem to think it is including many liberal commentators who claim to live in a fact-based world. I'm grateful if any president can get anything good done at all.

The Left and Right have united in predicting President Obama's failure and even seeming to root for it, if nothing else to prove they were right. So will the "sky is falling" prophets of doom on the Left and Right -- who have made it a national pastime to predict the "failure" of the Obama presidency -- start to climb down now that all their dire predictions are falling flat re the economy (that Obama did not ruin!) and wars ending (that Obama did not start!)?

The wars are ending and the economy is coming back. Good for the country. Bad for the doom pundits of the Left and Right.

Anyone who thinks Obama didn't "bring change" fast enough is living in a fact-free dreamland. First, they have no to little idea about how limited the president’s powers are. Second, they have no idea what this president in particular faced. We'll get the change promised but it will take 2 full terms and it will never live up to the expectations of the utopian groupies of the Left who thought they’d voted for a messiah not a mere president.

So why has change taken "so long"?

Because:

  • President Obama inherited a far bigger economic and foreign policy mess than anyone predicted....
  • The Republicans obstructed our first black president far more ruthlessly (and with racist overtones) than any (sane) person would have predicted...
  • President Obama's "friends" on the Left were as shortsighted and mean-spirited as his enemies on the Right...
  • And until the Occupy Wall Street Movement came along the President wasn't getting the help he needed from the street to make the unfairness of American life that he's trying to fix into an issue.

  • The President - thanks to Occupy Wall Street – now controls the debate with the handy phrase of "the 1% v the 99%." Occupy Wall Street did more for moving the country foreword and did more to help President Obama, than all the President's lefty critics combined. 
    Occupy Wall Street is doing what MLK and the civil rights movement did for Johnson: it provided the heat Johnson could then use to move his agenda forward. Obama too now has the wind of change at his back. 
     Sure, I like anyone else wish for more action from the President on many fronts. For instance I wish the President had not been so in love with the idea that we could be moving into a post-partisan world of cooperation. 
     As the New Yorker put it,
    “Predictions that Obama would usher in a new era of post-partisan consensus politics now seem not just na├»ve but delusional. At this political juncture, there appears to be only one real model of effective governance in Washington: partisan dominance, in which a President with large majorities in Congress can push through an ambitious agenda… Many of Obama’s liberal allies have been disillusioned, too. When Steve Jobs last met the President, in February, 2011, he was most annoyed by Obama’s pessimism—he seemed to dismiss every idea Jobs proffered. ‘The president is very smart,’ Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. ‘But he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done. It infuriates me.’ “Yet our political system was designed to be infuriating. As George Edwards notes in his study of Presidents as facilitators, the American system “is too complicated, power too decentralized, and interests too diverse for one person, no matter how extraordinary, to dominate.” Obama, like many Presidents, came to office talking like a director. But he ended up governing like a facilitator, which is what the most successful Presidents have always done. Even Lincoln famously admitted, ‘I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events controlled me.’"
    Given my religious right background I'm one of the President's most unlikely fans. Maybe that's because I really know the alternative-- from the inside. I fear the alternative to the President - far right loons of the Tea Party/evangelical religious right ilk -- and have never felt I had the luxury of being an armchair lefty critic demoralizing Obama’s supporters because he’s the only person who stands between the village idiots and us. 
     Try Romney and the Mormons on for size if you think Obama has been “slow” to embrace gay marriage! Try Gingrich and the "Christian Zionists" if you think we tilted too far to the far right West Bank settlers and Israeli hardliners! Try the Koch brothers’ cronies if you think our president is “owned by Wall Street!” 
     I know what the stakes are. I know from the inside just how deranged, corrupt and awful the marriage between Wall Street and the unwashed Tea Party/Religious Right anti-abortion, racist, homophobic and misogynist mob really is. I know that these people will buy elections then try and turn America into a theocracy -- on matters of personal morality -- and into an Ayn Rand libertarian and heartless swamp where the 1% eat the rest of us-- when it comes to the economy. 
     So I've been grateful that a man of integrity, brains and kindness and reasonable moderation (not to mention moderate progressive religious faith) is leading America. I didn't just read about the alternative and "other" side. I was the other side and know what they are capable of. 
     When we hear that jobless numbers are going down faster than expected, that shoppers spent money over the holidays, that economic forecasts are being revised upward, that we are out of Iraq, that bin Laden is dead, that gays can serve in the military, that Wall Street and the banks are now under investigation, that a woman's right to choose is being protected... it's time for a reassessment of the President's critic's. 
     And NO I'm NOT saying that any president is above rebuke when you think he's wrong. But fair rebuke is one thing. The endless drip, drip of mindless "disappointed" negativity that has been the hallmark not just of Fox News but has been found on progressive blogs too, is another thing altogether. Enough already! Or at least have the integrity to admit when you're wrong. 
     The President keeps proving himself smarter than his detractors. More power to him. 
     President Obama will win in 2012. And 4 years later all that will be remembered about his critics is that they were impatient, deluded and wrong. 
    Given what was on his plate when he took office and the fact that we're successfully struggling out of both recession and 2 war -- and succeeding -- President Obama is one of the best of the American presidents already. His second term will consolidate that verdict and bodes greatness as his legacy. 

43 comments:

yeat2009 said...

There is an old Joni Mitchell song with the lyrics, "Don't it always seem to show, you don't know what you've got till it's gone." To those Obama detractors on the Left and Right demanding someone better - get a life! The GOP/TP heroine, Ayn Rand, was brought up Jewish, upper middle class in Stalin's Russia, a Hollywood wanna be movie scene extra who married an American the last day on her visa so she would not have to return to Russia plus became an avid Atheist. She had a soft life in hard historical times. And promoted a philosophy of Darwinian survival of the fittest. In a word, Greed. Obama has done as best as can be realistically expected considering the burdens inherited from W. Bush and limitations of his office alone to make changes as Frank Schaeffer correctly states above.

CFWard57 said...

Well put, as usual. You are correct about the anger and vilification one can draw simply by suggesting that President Obama is doing pretty well considering what is on his plate. I've been chased off more than one site myself simply by pointing out the mechanics of the sausage factory and how easily one determined set of saboteurs such as the GOP can derail honest effort at improvement.

I have tried to explain to people how sophisticated President Obama's approach has been in just securing the things most of his predecessors never had to worry about because none of his predecessors were working with so much opposition from both sides. I like to call all those disappointed progressives the "unicorn and sparkle pony" branch of the Democratic party, who have a toddler's grasp of waiting for what they want, which means they are unwilling to wait for it at all, nor are they willing to admit that some of the things they want cannot be delivered by their daddy Obama, but must be worked for and acquired together through diligent, constant, unceasing effort. They don't like to hear this because, frankly, it takes so much more work to adopt the adult view. Much better to throw tantrums and express disappointment. Not much work in that, nor any responsibility either.

Barry Schwartz said...

You are very kind. The way I sometimes put it is that these ‘liberals’ do not want democracy, where you have to consistently outvote the ‘wrong’ people, but rather a benign dictatorship, where you run roughshod over them. (For that one uses a combination of emergency powers and magical demagoguery.)

Rob L said...

Mostly agree, although I think you oversell the current 'recovery', the extent to which Wall Street has changed _at all_, and the President's interest in a truly progressive economy. In my view, Occupy Wall Street has recruited the President to the cause of inequality, much like the civil rights movement recruited Kennedy.

Props to the President where due: the credit card bill (remember that one), a luke-warm health care reform that was far better than nothing (but that's a low bar), a partial stimulus (Krugman is perfectly right about that one; too small and it will be years before full employment yet at this "improved" rate - we are half way to a lost decade).

But he has pushed to expand the powers of the Presidency and further erode civil rights in the pursuit of anti-terrorism policies.

Will he force the expiration of the Bush tax cuts? Time will tell.

Sue B said...

Barack Obama has really deviated very little from what he wrote in Audacity of Hope in 2006 which is really a longer version of what he said in his 2004 Speech which is from all accounts the same speech he gave as a community organizer many years ago....Pretty consistant guy this guy is.

Kiku said...

Thanks, Frank, for the comment about OWS changing the dialog.

I'd love to hear that point over and over, that finding the message that resonates with us all, and standing up for that, as with the Kormen foundation, if we work together, we can move things forward.

Frank Schaeffer said...

Hi Kiku: Thanks and I don't think that it can be overstated that OWS has changed the politics more than anything else in recent years. It has even changed the Republican debates. The 1% v the 99 is now THE point and at last we are getting to the real issues of the day through this.

Frank Schaeffer said...

yeat2009, thanks for the Ayn Rand info, I'm glad you read my article and thank you for the added material.

Mary Withers said...

Thank you, Frank. I, too, am an escapee from the hijacking of Christianity in the late 70s. I left a Shepherding church, after 8 years, a church whose leaders called themselves Apostles, and who taught more from Bill Gothard Seminars than they did from the New Testament.

In 8 years, I never heard one sermon about the Sermon on the Mount, or anything else Jesus ever "said", but I must have heard 20 about Ananias & Sapphira.

By the time I left, the tithe had been bumped up ("by special revelation") from 10% to 30%, and the Far Right social agenda was shockingly apparent.

Thanks for all you do. BTW, if you are on Facebook, come visit "The Christian Left". It's full of people like. Every new member always says "I thought I was the only one!"

Frank Schaeffer said...

Thanks Mary, I'll go to the website. Best, F

C. Curmudgeon said...

Thanks for this wonderful perspective, Frank. I agree with you for the most part, especially with respect to the role OWS has played. If I recall correctly, Obama said at the beginning of his Presidency that in order for many of the things that needed to get done to get done, we would have to push him in that direction. In other words, he needed grass roots support to give him the backing necessary to push through the changes needed to move us forward. That didn't happen until OWS became a force to be reckoned with.

I would like to take issue with CFWard57, though. My activism began when I was 20 years old (1967). I have said I've waited all my adult life for something like OWS. To say that some of us - who HAVE been disappointed . . . repeatedly - are childlike in our inability to defer gratification is a bit insulting. I'll grant there are those who don't understand the workings of Washington and our form of government in general, and that they are too impatient, but it's been 45 years for many of us. Impatience is not a word I'd use for our desire to see a more just society sometime before we die. Just sayin'.

Daylon said...

And ironically, Ayn Rand's last illness was paid for by Medicaire.

Frank Schaeffer said...

Hi Daylon, perfect!

Sharon said...

The Christian Left posted your article on Facebook, which is where I caught it. Like you and Mary, I'm a fellow escapee from the conservative right, Tim LeHaye's camp, in my case, and have become quite cynical as a result. After I read Crazy for God, I wrote you an angry letter - I took you for a religious rightist, looking to remake yourself and profit from it.

I was wrong and I apologize!! I'm so happy to read your seasoned and well reasoned piece. I'm in the middle of re-reading Haynes Johnson's book, Sleeping Walking through History, and just finished the chapter God and Mammon, about the rise of the televangelists in the 80s and how they hijacked Christianity. White-washed sepulchers.

Thanks for using your voice to speak for the rest of us that the media don't find interesting, or whatever.

Steve D said...

Oh, the shrieking insanity over Obama actually quoting Scripture to the effect that those who get more have higher obligations!

Glenn said...

No question, Obama has done some good things during his first 3 years and I'll vote for him again in November. But I feel the need to quibble about one of your major points.

He did not give us universal health care. He gave us Romneycare which will insure another 30 million people but will still leave 20 million uninsured. In no way is that universal. And as it is contructed, at least here in Massachusetts, it has done little to bend the cost curve.

Embedded in the bill were provisions to allow states to experiment and some states are indeed building their own Medicare-for-all. Let's hope that this effort spreads to all the states and ends this great injustice.

Michael C. Cordell said...

Very well-reasoned and moderately-toned article, Frank. I spend much time (probably too much) challenging those on the far left and far right on these very same points you make. They are so locked into their own point of view, few of them are even willing to take a step back and look at everything the President has done since he took office, particularly in light of what hand he was dealt with in the first place. I fear for our future as political "leaders" will continue to pander to these extremists and will hold places of power within the government.

GregM said...

Hit this one out of the park, Frank. I think this election is going to be close (because Romney will have *tons* of money from his cronies--see the current New Yorker issue on Larry McCarthy, Romney's ad man/political hit man) but I hope Obama will pull it out, and I suspect he will. It may make 2008 look like a cakewalk, however, so we're all going to have to be prepared to roll up our sleeves, call phones, go door to door, etc.

Freedem said...

OWS was/is Obama's critics on the left. Many of the points they are making Obama himself was making before the election.

I had my own list as well, unfortunately still as available as it was then to be done.

There was the opportunity to do all that OWS was asking for out of the box and many of those by presidential fiat, and still more by not draining the Congress to fill the Cabinet.

Janet Napolitano has done a decent job, but picking her enabled Jan Brewer, that caused many who knew what they were talking about to howl. And now we all know what they were talking about.

Huge structural problems do still exist, And Krugman was right that many simple solutions were ignored at great cost. Much of the toxic debt is in insurance against mortgage default, ultimately many times the value of the mortgages.

The Government buys the mortgages and lets them back out at 3% for 30 years and forbearance for unemployment. No insurance clicks in, no massive deflation of values, and the down turn is much smaller, and way fewer foreclosures.

Still the past is over and the choice between Obama and the alternative is unfortunately easy. Plus Obama is getting much better footing without Rahm underfoot.

But the great question is what happens now. Obama must reignite the vision that got him elected and be what he is portrayed on the right or at least some percentage of it.

They have already painted a picture, that they cannot say "he is almost what we said he was". And voicing the real values of Empathy, Fairness, and responsible Agency VS the Vulture Piracy that pretends to be Capitalism will do well both to be elected and to make it happen.

Olivia Emisar said...

Very well stated, I enjoy your presence on TV as well. One thing we should all try to remember is that a lot of these "disgruntled" democrat/liberals are neither.

A new industry of paid bloggers and posters has emerged in the past couple of years and would not be surprised if the Koch bros & their ilk are the ones signing the check.

You know what it is like to have been raised in that environment and what lengths they'll got to in order to advance their agenda and engage their Christian soldiers (Lord, that sounds and looks bad every time I see it)

President Obama is the best choice we could have made. He needs our support. We better give it, because 2016 is not far away.

PEACE and thanks for a great article.

Matt Osborne said...

Yes, Republicans are doubling-down on the union-busting and abortion-outlawing around the country right now, having taken power in 39 state legislatures when potential Democratic voters stayed home in 2010 to express their discouragement and poutrage. Sure, we might be going backwards instead of forwards, but WE REALLY SHOWED OBAMA! or something. There's a triangulation involved here that only makes sense if you don't understand basic civics, which far too many people on the left apparently don't.

Crystal said...

I think Olivia is right and not all the comments are actually from the left. I think what Mr. Schaeffer refers to are the more 'professional' left - the talking heads and columnists, etc. I think my disappointments were valid ones and along the same lines as Frank Schaeffer's. It is not a toddler's impatience to be concerned about what appears to be erosion of civil rights. OTOH, certainly there is a difference between President Obama and any alternative we see in the farce of a Republican primary. What I've learned is that we need to work harder on electing a more progressive Congress - and pay more attention to what is happening at the state and local level.

At the risk of sounding as looney as Glen Beck, I do think the religious fanatics have decided in recent decades that they need to take over governing the nation. That ought to get the rest of us out doing all we can to stop it.

Olivia Emisar said...

Crystal, I agree that pundits have been relentless but often I realize that they are getting paid to create controversy where none exists.

Last month Ed Schultz was trying to rile up the listeners to switch VP positions with Hillary Clinton. It was not a widespread notion out there, but he latched on to it to see if it sticks.

I completely agree with you. Local elections are not sexy, but when we see what ignoring them has done to Michigan, Wisconsin Indiana, Florida, et al, we realize they are the most important.

Strong governors and legislators can make a state strong and quality of life a reality. When we get these puppets from the Koch Brothers we are in serious trouble democratically and progressively.

For a wonderfully clear, informative and well researched topic of religion on politics, I recommend "The Family" by Jeff Sharlet - for many, it is about the intrusion of religion in our government but the insight on how our politics work (or don't) is priceless.

As a matter of fact, the book will assure that a) you are not loony at all, it is exactly what you think and b) No one is crazier than Beck... well... maybe Bachmann :-)

Permanentflux said...

Fantastic article!
Found a typo, though, that you may want to fix! "...it's time for a reassessment of the President's critic's" ;-)

Sel's Quilting Blog said...

Dear Mr. Schaeffer,

I've never read one of your blog entries before, but had this linked by a friend off my Twitter feed.

I guess, watching from the outside (I live in Australia), the most depressing thing about the last four years of US politics has been watching the right-wingers bring out bigotry, thinly-disguised as patriotism, while the left-wingers whinged about how change wasn't happening fast enough - as though the President only had to wave a magic wand and the world would rearrange itself.

Thanks for this post and the thoughts you've expressed here. I'll see if I can't find your books somewhere - I'm interested in your perspective on the intermingling of religious fanaticism with politics that seems to be gradually making its way over here in Australia.

cheers,
Sel.

Frank Schaeffer said...

Sel, thanks for the interest, re my books I'm sure you can get them on Amazon there as here. Keep in touch and thanks again, F

Frank Schaeffer said...

Crystal, I think you are right about the religious right: there have been actual meetings (many) with leaders actually planning a strategic "take over."

Olivia, you're right about the paid bloggers. The "grass roots" of the right is less roots, more money spent by a few far right tycoons.

Mat, I'm with you re people on the left who just don't get what the President is up against.

p0ssum said...

My biggest problem with the President, and I still sing his praises for the most part, are his absolute silence on the war on drugs and this further assault on our privacy rights. Both of these need to be addressed. Maybe next time, when he doesn't have to worry about re-election, he can face some of the even harder problems facing our nation and freedoms.

I'd like to know how you feel about my comment Frank.

Ron said...

Frank, very well said. I think we need to hear more like this to counter the crap from the right. I get very upset at haring all this "be very afraid of Obama" stuff all the time. The drift to the right and the influence the right has is not good for our country.
I put a link to you site on my blog rongodin.blogspot.com

renegademax said...

I'm an atheist Jew, left of liberal and an Obama supporter. Your essay is right on target and something that I wish every American would read.

I believe that the President went to Washington full of great intention, hope and a sincere desire to effect change. What he was not prepared for, was the racist quagmire that has, to some degree, stymied his ability to to move this country forward. Despite that, he has been effective and made several landmark changes.

In many ways he reminds of JFK, who after 4 years in the shark pool, looked about as grey and tired as the President does now.

I just read an article on Jewish World Review by Frank J. Gaffney Jr., that rabidly criticized the President for not admitting that Iran is aiding and abetting terrorism on US soil. This idiot made me laugh in that his vitriol was so intense, he completely missed the poker point of not showing your hand. This is exactly the mindless nonsense that is so pervasive, as you so rightly point out, Mr. Scheffer. However, I will vote for Obama again and, I believe, sir, that he will reelected.

Frank Schaeffer said...

Hi renegademax, thanks for reading my article and for the comment. Yes, yes and yes! We are on the same page. Best, Frank

LoriWms said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LoriWms said...

LWilliams
Great Blog ! I'll admit my enthusiasm flagged for a just a bit, but my admiration and respect for the President has remained strong since I joined his team. My patriotism and love for my country has never wavered. The same can be said for my disdain of some of my fellow Americans, for their blind hatred of anything or anybody "different".

Frank Schaeffer said...

Thanks for reading my piece Lori

GLL said...

As the old Latin saying goes, "In medio stat virtus". Virtue lies in the middle way.

GLL said...

As the old Latin saying goes, "In medio stat virtus". Virtue lies in the middle way.

Robert Newsom said...

This an excellent post. However, I have to agree with those who think that the healthcare legislation which actually passed is too little, too late, and will be unable to say America's healthcare "system" from catastrophic collapse.

DLW said...

I'm both glad Obama is in power and certain that the really crucial changes will come about apart from getting/keeping the right people into power.

God is at work in ways we do not see!!!
If the current GOP has a meltdown then there'll be money behind the use of quasi-proportional elections for state and US congressional elections, which in turn will truly change the winner-take-all political system that rewards the polarization techniques described above.
dlw

LSmith said...

I am always amazed at the lack of knowledge among progressives about the President's accomplishments.

Seraphim said...

Count me on the other side of this question. It is my hope that President Obama will be defeated, not vindicated. His vision for the country is no vision I recognize as good or desirable. It is not the sort of governance I want any affiliation with. Also I don't think the Tea Party are loons. They seem pretty normal to me, and their outrage at attempts to expand the governments reach into private lives is preeminently sane. To me it is the left that seems loony. The middle is apparently a moving target determined by the extremes at either end of the spectrum. Also I have no trouble considering anything in the American political arena that self identifies as progressive as …at the very least on the side of evil, wittingly or not. Progress presumes a goal, destination, and direction progressive politics point is towards a high and bridgeless cliff…secular socialism by evolution rather than revolution. I want no part of it.

That doesn't mean I think the Republican party is the second coming of iced cream. I think the leadership of both parties on the whole are corrupt and corrupting. They play whatever fiddle gets them the votes and then they do whatever they want and rig the game however they can to perpetuate their own power. If they do any good governing at all, it is largely incidental to the service of their more dearly held power monopolizing agendas.

The only candidate in the race I would willingly support is Ron Paul (yes, I'm a marginal Ronulan). My own political sympathies are closer to libertarian and communiatarian/Southern Agrarian ideals (with a few reservations). I don't trust corporate capitalism, and don't like what it has done to American, indeed world economics…and I am very unsympathetic to the Israeli lobby and Evangelicalisms infatuation with Israel on the most religiously mercenary of grounds, but for all my reservations about Newt, Romney or Santorum, or Evangelicalism's political influence…I will vote for any one of them before I vote for any Democrat.

I also note from reading a few of the more recent posts here, that a lot is made of the right's demonizing of the left and its invocation of religious language to serve its cause…yet I see precisely the same thing on the left..has everyone forgotten all the nasty extremist things said about Bush? Look at the headlines in this blog, the Tea Party is not considered simply those of another perspective with which we differ, they are labeled as "religious loons." How is that not demonizing. I know a lot of Tea Party sympathizers. They are not loons. Some aren't religious (most are), but on the whole they are decent hardworking people who take very seriously the notion of limited government.

I

Seraphim said...

continuation due to text limit:

In a recent interview with Bill Moyer, moral psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt made some salient points about political demonizing on both sides, and why it should become a social taboo like racist speech. It is because the emotions that run with religion also run with politics. They are expressions of sacralization. Some sacralize one set of virtues more than others, some try to to maintain an even balance, but all politics embody some sacralized position…and when that is opposed by another sacralized position, it is easy ratchet up the language from "we really disagree on first principles," to, "The other guys are just evil". The other side has now been labeled, and masked, and dehumanized, and anything can be said about or done to them, because they are manifestly evil. That's how modern liberals look at conservatives and how modern conservatives look at liberals. So…maybe the fire breathing could be dialed back on either side.

For what it is worth, I am Orthodox, and I am Orthodox in large part because of Frank Schaefer's own conversion and his book Dancing Alone. I knew given his background, he would not convert to something so different for trivial reasons. And given what I've found and seen in our common faith, there is much about Frank's evolution of political thought that I find baffling, especially his support for the vision and goals of President Obama. I'm more surprised he is not more of a pox on both their houses mindset and more ready to pitch tents with the conservative libertarians than other political affiliations.

Anyway, I thought a non ranting voice from the other side of the issue was warranted, for better or for worse.

crystaldragonwoman said...

dear Frank, I admire your courage and thoughtfulness, having freed yourself from the rigidity of the right and refusing to be penned in my rigidity of the left - thank you for being out front with your needed perspective - keeps me thinking :), Warm Blessings, Jessica Britt

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