American exceptionalism requires exceptional Americans

The segway to Kathleen Parker’s latest (republished to the Spokesman-Review) column, this 31st of January 2011 should begin here. I went on my latest recycling walk on Government way yesterday, and as I was returning, saw the latest sign of a poisoned political climate on a pair of bumper stickers on the back of a truck parked at a car parts store. Not having my camera with me, I can only describe what they said. “Impeach Obama” and “Four more years without a President.” That’s pure hatred. And no doubt, this is a driver who votes GOP.  Thinking about it afterwards, I wouldn’t have minded taking a digital pic and sharing it with the rest of the world.  Especially in the light of Ms. Parker’s latest column.

First of all, impeachment requires that a president had actually engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors.  It has nothing to do with partisan hatred based on what party he is associated with.  Indeed, Obama’s predecessor had actually engage in high crimes and misdemeanors, and no Republican demonstrated sufficient desire to stand on principle and demand the forcible removal of GW Bush as being one hell of an embarrassment to this country and a detriment to the U.S. Constitution.  Obama doesn’t have the foreign policy scandals.  No more than he has the domestic policy scandals.  He has made his mistakes without a doubt.  Just like anyone else is capable of.  But under no circumstances has he engaged in the sort of activity that could actually call for his legitimately being “impeached.”  Impeachment based solely on partisan hatred may be a nice venting of frustration that a Republican is not at the helm, but it is also beyond stupid and even contemptible that anyone would make that kind of argument.  I’d say the same thing if it was a GOP president who proved to be a hundred times better than GW at leading the country and grappled with trying to heal the disrepair that GW had left him.

Second, what am I supposed to make of a guy (or gal) who’d argue that we have “four more years without a president,” especially if Obama wins re-election in 2012?  Is that a birther argument?  We don’t “have a president” because we don’t believe he’s American?  Or we don’t “have a president” because of racial hatred?  Or we don’t “have a president” because of bitter partisan politics?  Or we don’t “have a president,” because this is a “TEA Partier’s” rig who can’t accept whom the nation elected in November of 2008.  In any case, the bumper stickers describe a person who does not believe in core democratic principles such as President Obama originally discussed and included in Parker’s column.  What he (or she) doesn’t believe in, neither will he vote for.

A country in a unique position to lead the world must be able to do the following:  1.  Being a beacon of liberty.  2.  Invest in cutting edge technology.  3.  Invest in its own people.  4.  Invest in the future of the nation.  5.  Believe in the supreme governing laws enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and being prepared to defend them.  And finally, no “foreign entanglements” would certainly argue that this nation should not be in debt to its enemies.  Something that our last “president” guaranteed would happen.  Exactly how well can this nation be a beacon of liberty and by extension a supporter of human rights, find itself deep in debt to a nation that has been adverse to both?  Not so easy to do.

Even if the Republican party wants to argue that this country has some kind of “exceptionalism” that enables it to lead the world even in our current dire straits, they also have the baggage that G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney left them.  Plus their personal behavior since the 2010 mid term elections.  Jim Hightower who gets routinely published in the “Inlander” disclosed among other things that Representative Darrell Issa is only prepared to support “the banksters” such as Capital One against the people who actually voted for him.  With reference to “When banks go wrong part 7”, Rep. Issa was reported as being quite prepared to undo the regulations that would prevent such banks from being able to continue to rip off their customers.  Instead of the House of Representatives being “the peoples’ house” as the GOP had advertised, it was simply the corporatists house as before.  Without question, the GOP lied to the voters, they hadn’t “got it” after all.  It wouldn’t do to regulate the people who mostly brought the economy to its knees?  Who almost single-handedly had nearly caused a complete financial collapse in the world markets?  I’d say, yes; that we definitely needed to re-regulate those run amok banks and investment firms.  Or that because banks such as Capital One that literally could force account holders into default because they made it way too expensive for those account holders to even pay the bills, then needing “TARP” through taxpaid dollars that literally came out of the pockets of their account holders to keep such banks propped up, and then to “pay back TARP” tried to do some more ripping off of their long suffering account holders…  Leave it to Rep Issa to ask no questions as he got tons of money from the banks that we bailed out.  It seems to me that exceptionalism should come first from a sense of morality.  Who we are as a people by what we do, how we behave and further, adhering to the better angels of our nature.  Obvious corruption doesn’t put us in a very good position to lead the rest of the world.

Granted that the Democrats have also acted on the behalf of business interests.  Granted that Obama has turned to the business world to staff his White House.  But corruption is quite another matter.  In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, the last thing that a GOP would want to do is forget exactly why the GOP became a minority party for two years and upon regaining partial control of Congress, plunge right back in and re-create the problems that led to that crisis in the first place.  Corruption is that capacity, that if you get handed enough money, you can immediately forgive and forget.  It also means that you forget the very people to whom you actually owed your office:  the voters.  The people who are ultimately harmed by the ending of necessary regulations on these banks.  If the voters don’t matter after November, then who will?  That’s not an argument of American exceptionalism.  And the exceptionalism of foreign nations, especially China that is already outpacing us in economic growth, comes to the fore.  The GW era (or the uh oh years) did this nation no favors.  Before we may lead, we must rebuild, beginning with our national character, morality, and sense of responsibility.

Does that answer your question Ms. Parker?  Don’t ask the president, ask us.  American exceptionalism must come from us.  Or what good is our “leadership” if the quality of the nation through its citizens has so greatly deteriorated that we are only capable now of the most childish behavior.  But, we are no longer capable of the great things that President Obama still believes is possible in his State of the Union speech.  Does he have to headline his State of the Union speech as “American exceptionalism?”  Or does he only need to describe the possibility of it in his speech?  That we can still be uniquely capable of leading through new investments in technology, investments in education, not re-creating the mistakes of history in order to secure a better future for the nation, and most certainly to support democratic aspirations and human rights as a beacon of liberty.  Obama only said all of that.  Now what have the GOP said?  Or for that matter, what had the driver of this car said by way of his bumper stickers?  We surely can do better than this.

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