The way politics ought to be
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I’m not a regular reader of RedState.com, but I was struck by the piece Erick Erickson posted late yesterday about President Obama and his second inauguration. The headline of the column is “The Loyal Opposition,” and I’d like to take the liberty of posting it here in its entirety:
Congratulations Mr. President on your second inaugural.
Saying that makes some of you really enraged. I said the same on twitter shortly after his official swearing in. Several of the replies were embarrassing and atrocious. Some accused the man elected by a majority of Americans of treason. Some accused him of willfully destroying the nation.
I believe the President’s policies are destructive and will harm our economy, our nation, and our sense of national self long term. I believe his policies have the effect of turning us into subjects of the government, not citizens in charge of it. Because of his expansion of the social safety net funded through class warfare, Mr. Obama’s policies will cause too many Americans’ fortunes to rise and fall with those of the government, unable to chart a course for themselves apart from government.
But I do not think the President means to do this maliciously. I do not think he is treasonous. I do not hate him. I am not outraged by it. The President has done what he set out to do. I cannot be outraged by him doing what he set out to do. I am far more outraged by the Republicans not doing what they said they would do.
We have too many outrage pimps on both sides of the aisle whipping the respective bases into a frenzy and fury against the other side. I don’t have enough time or energy to be outraged about it all. There are things to be outraged by, but not everything, and certainly not with full energy dedicated to every perceived slight and grievance.
What I am finding is that among conservatives there is too much outrage, piss, and vinegar. It makes our ideas less effective. We have become humorless, angry opponents of the President instead of happy warriors selling better ideas. We are not even selling ideas.
Conservatives, frankly, have become purveyors of outrage instead of preachers for a cause. Instead of showing how increasing government harms people, how free markets help people, and how conservative policies benefit all Americans, we scream “Benghazi” and “Fast & Furious.”
We’re off key and off message. We’ve become professional victims dialed up to 10 on the outrage meter. Who the hell wants to listen to conservatives whining and moaning all the time about the outrage du jour? Seriously? Mitt Romney ran a campaign on just how bad things are, but he was rejected by a majority of Americans who felt like he really did not care about them and really had no plans to improve their lives.
Bitching about Benghazi doesn’t do that either.
Be mad at me if you need to. Feel free to express your moral outrage and indignity at me. But then shut up and focus on convincing people not that the President of the United States duly elected by a majority of the American people is a traitor willfully trying to destroy the country, but that our policies will allow people to make the most of their lives and not be dependent on the rising and falling fortunes of Washington, D.C.
Be happy. The anger is unbecoming of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.
And if you must be angry, don’t be angry at a President doing what he set out to do, be angry at a Republican Establishment not doing . . . well . . . much of anything.
I love this piece. I wish I had written it, or something like it. I think his words offer a lesson for every one of us who appreciates politics. In fact, this is what politics ought to be: a contest of ideas built on a base of mutual recognition that each side has something important to offer the American people. I hope the president has a chance to read this. I think he could learn from it too.
Thanks, Erick. You have made my day.