The election of 2016 – dubbed Decision 2016 – is and has been a perplexing event, frustrating my sensibilities, angering my even-tempered disposition, and at times paralyzing my brain. Dissimulation 2016 is more appropriate.
David Souter’s comments in 2005 regarding his concerns for the country centered on a lack of civic awareness or intelligence. He wasn’t worried so much about foreign invasion or a coup. A lack of civic awareness concerned him most. Ignorance, if you will. If by ignorance we mean not only the lack of basic knowledge but also a narrowing of thought processes, I agree entirely. The hallmark of our democratic process of government has been a peaceful transition of power. Inaugural addresses during my life time have included references to this demonstration of power changing hands without bloody conflict. This is our history, our heritage, the assay mark of democracy. It’s also mature and civil.
Regrettably, the election of Barack Obama – regarded by many as a transformational moment – transformed this country in ways we never suspected. Republicans have attempted to correct “voter-fraud” and have sought to do away with portions of the Civil Rights Voting Act, while pointing to Obama’s election as proof we are in a post-racial time frame in our history. We elected an African-American President so racism is dead, they say. Actually, they seek to suppress opposition voters rather than win support for their ideas – a dangerous strategy and certainly not democratic.
Now, we are confronted by Republican leadership that suggests that should Hillary Clinton be elected President, they will not allow any Supreme Court nomination to come up for a vote. This obstructionism began just days after Obama’s election when Mitch McConnell said the Republicans would do everything in their power to make certain Obama was a one-term president. Following this post-election pronouncement, there were challenges to the legitimacy of an Obama Presidency on many fronts. Far too many times, news/television reports carried the familiar pronouncements by dissatisfied citizens “He didn’t win here”, or “He’s not my President.”
OBSTRUCTIONISM IS NOT GOVERNANCE
In the spring of ’09, marches on Washington with gun-toting people protesting everything Obama did – or thought of doing, or might do in their minds – coupled with hate-filled slogans that he was Muslim, a racist, a communist, who would take their guns were both jaw-dropping and numbing. Nothing was grounded in any fact; fact had left the building. A CNN interview with John Boehner during these marches and demonstrations included a question from Anderson Cooper regarding the truthfulness of these allegations and received a brush-off from Boehner who said that we have freedom of speech in this country.
Boehner, however, is a leader and true leaders lead. Boehner’s comment was an abdication of leadership because the anger served Boehner’s political agenda, and integrity mattered not a damn. This was the moment when our democracy began to fray. The unwillingness to accept the verdict of the people unless it conforms to your point of view is now the norm – or about to become the norm.
SOUND BITES ARE SO MUCH EASIER TO COMPOSE
Civility? Hannity recently offered to pay for a one-way flight to carry the Obamas anywhere in the world they want to go after his term is up. This is rock-bottom infantile, Ignorant, and a disgrace to our democratic process. In an attempt to sway voters we denigrate the system and mock the opposition – no policy discussion, please. It’s to difficult and requires an informed electorate. Denigration fits nicely into sound bites, doesn’t it? And so much easier to compose.
THE FRAYING OF DEMOCRACY
The acceptance of an election outcome is critical for an intelligent and civil democracy. That does not preclude working within the process to advance your ideas; but, the obstruction of the people’s voice – to the extent that governance is paralyzed – is antithetical to democracy and a dangerous degeneration of civic responsibility. The hypocrisy of Republican obstruction to an up or down vote on Garland’s nomination because the people need to weigh in on the process is made transparent by the announcement to oppose any nomination made in a Clinton Presidency. If Clinton is elected, the people will have spoken. Not so for Republicans, who want to take the ball and go home if we don’t play by their rules. Not only ignorant, but infantile.
I would like to say we deserve better. Our history does…[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]