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Monday, August 17, 2009

My Op-Ed: V 1.0

Just about every week, I submit an Op-Ed piece to my local paper. The Madisonville Messenger is a very conservative publication, as the residency of the county that it serves is pretty much one of the reddest parts of the state of Kentucky. Even though my ideals are greatly outnumbered, I have seen several pieces published, with a great deal of response not only from the readership of the paper, but from members of my community as well.

Here is my latest submission.


We have just recently passed the half-way marker in Barack Obama's first year of presidency and one would assume that, from the fiery invective from the Right, that his administration has completely destroyed any and all facets of this nation for which people have fought, literally and figuratively, and died.. As late-night comedian and political commentator John Stewart postulated, perhaps the GOP is confusing tyranny with losing.

And with such strong feelings, many of which are completely unfounded and are rooted in willful ignorance, you are sure to see many points of view come up that weren't at first expected. Some points of view are even changed to such a degree that the word "hypocrisy" is quite the apt term to use.

From positions on 2nd Amendment Rights, to healthcare, to the preposterous notion that Obama is not an American citizen, and even to economic issues like the wildly successful "Cash For Clunkers" program, the fringe-conservative movement ( most notably the "tea-party" set ) are not just making their voices heard, though that is somewhat limited to simply shouting down their opposition and not engaging is realistic and intellectually honest discourse, but some of their ideals are actually beginning to show signs of traction within their elected officials.

We have just seen a very commonplace, and very important, piece of proposed legislation being removed from healthcare reform. The end-of-life counciling provision - or as Sarah Palin liked to refer to it: "Death Panels" - was removed from each of the 6 proposed bills largely due to massive media coverage in regards to how it had been molested and contorted into a visage of evil that was never even contained within the original language. This, by and large, was a patent lie from the conservative Right.

Two points about end-of-life counciling and the GOP that are somewhat interesting are as follows. The person that originally put this provision into proposed legislation was a Republican, and one of its most vocal opponents, the aforementioned Palin, actually supported end-of-life counciling in her state. While the later is slowing being spun by her rabid supporting base as non-comparable to what was currently being postulated, the very real fact that no-ones grandmothers were going to be euthanized, no special needs children would be put to death, and certainly no government official would be knocking on your door every five years. The language was clear, concise, and is currently being implemented throughout the nation as an option within healthcare that many Americans have no problem with.

The other issue that has gained ground within the GOP, although many Republican officials, when pressed, refused to state whether they believe or not, is Barack Obama's status as an American citizen. Lead by a woman who was born and raised in Communist Russia, Orly Taitz sparked a firestorm across the United States. The two sides being those who believe and those who don't. And while it appeared that this manufactured controversy would soon die out, it began to grow and swell while more and more media outlets embraced this ratings-boosting story. Soon, there were even elected officials that began to speak out, some stating that they needed proof before making a decision. Never before in my lifetime has there been cause for an elected President to provide a birth certificate to prove he is who he says he is.

The utterly silly issue came to a boiling point not long ago with Taitz presenting an obvious forgery that she attempted to pass off as a Kenyan birthcertificate, with so many mistakes of logic and fact that anyone who spent 30 minutes on Google could have debunked. The issue remains a polarizing one within the uber-conservative fringe, and is mentioned almost daily by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Neil Boortz, Micheal Savage, and G. Gordon Liddy.

And the issues don't stop there. From people being afraid that their legally purchased and licensed firearms will be taken away. This should not suprise those that even casually follow our current administration, as there is not even a whisper of gun control legislation being considered. The "Cash For Clunkers" program, recently bolstered by a further injection of $2 billion dollars, continues to be successful despite the inane rambling of Glenn Beck and his paranoid delusion that the average person would have their computers "bugged" by the government in an attempt to gleen any and all information that could be used against them. And even the White House's handling of misinformation is being chided as nothing more than a compilation of an "enemies list". In reference to this, there was never a call for individuals to be turned-in to the White House, merely that concerned citizens, regardless of party affiliation, were urged to send in their questions regarding information that seemed suspect.

All this, coupled with the GOP's utter neglect of their potential young and minority voting blocks means that they are favoring the few while neglecting the many. But there is one variable to should be mentioned - mid-term elections. With this two-year election cycles inching closer, 2010 would likely only show marginal gains for a limited number of Republicans running for office. This isn't due to most issues that are currently being discussed, but largely due to the fact that any party that controls the White House and has a majority in both houses of Congress will likely see control of the later move to the opposition party. This was seen during the Carter and Reagan administration and most famously when Republicans gained majority after Clinton was elected for his first term.

But these gains, and their relevance, will likely mean little to nothing if the GOP continues to embrace mere opposition rather than an alternative, accepts abject ignorance, fear, and shouting instead of reasoned debate and education on the issues.

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