Hope 2009

My friend Sam is a well-dressed, East Coast sort of a chap, deigning precisely once to don the less pretentious trappings of a simple t-shirt.  It’s a white background, against which is set the face of our fearless leader, President Obama. Behind this imposing visage is a familiar tri-color pattern and a simple message: hope.

It is not, in this article, my goal to talk about hope, though everyone else seems to be doing just that.  The stock market took a rise of late, waterboarding is a thing of the past, and Condi got called out by a fourth grader.  Things are looking good, admittedly, but many of us who recall more vividly the events of the last eight years are not so keen to bury the hatchet.  Some of you might recall warning friends or colleagues that they were electing little better than an illiterate zealot, and that they or someone they knew might have to pay for these irresponsible decisions.

And yet, time and again, America witnessed the Triumph of the Lemmings.

The question that begs my mind most adamantly is not one of hope, then, but one of forgiveness.  Ought nine finds the American people on the bitter end of a bad divorce, betrayed by our leaders and citizens in a relationship that, despite eight years of togetherness, has left both parties shamed and beaten.  Before we dare to hope, America must learn to forgive.

This is a tall order – most of you have probably shared in the sense of anger and disgust which for so many of us has defined the relation of Americans to their government for most of the last decade.  Kierkegaard might caution us that despair and anxiety are the precursors of hope and salvation.  Conversely, many philosophers would attribute this to sentimentalist hooey.  And we, each in our own hearts, must find the strength to answer a question whose darkness still shrouds the allegedly “bi-partisan” dynamic of our newest administration.

To ease the pain, we might notice that the Republican Party is more or less collapsing.  With Bush, Romney, and Cantor taking flight from Washington, Obama has four years (dare I say eight years?) to restore the glory that once was us, before the series of goofy wars from which America has recently struggled to free itself.  In light of our above-mentioned progress, and this karmic development for Cantor ‘n Friends, can the liberals of our time finally look our fellow citizens in the eyes?

This is a question that we all have to answer on our own accord, and I will posit my response.  The answer, as we say in philosophy, is contingent. The sort of anger incurred by the blatant and recurring failures of the Bush entourage might be viewed as a response to danger, an alert from our own minds and psyches that something has gone horribly awry.  Now that the threat is past, it is a defensible assertion that this consequent anger has outlived its purpose and/or use. My question, then, is: has the threat truly passed?

Has the Republican Party learned that theistic fundamentalists have no place in our political community?  Have war-mongering hawks finally conceded that they might wish to respect the lives our brave if ill-directed young warriors?  Has it at long last sunk in that liberty, equality, and peace should be the core tenets of any administration which dares to invoke the admittedly sullied name of America, the once-beautiful, as per those basic axioms laid down in our oft lip-serviced Bill of Rights?

I don’t know the answer to that.  I do know that plenty of the people responsible for this sordid affair are known to us as friends or relatives, and that I should caution myself against talk of peace while harboring so much hatred for the wrongs of yesteryear.  My challenge, to myself and to my readers, is that if we are to carry this resentment into the next decade, that it be a tempered vigilance, an edifying caution against the consequences of bigotry and ignorance, and not the subversive sort of resentment of our most bitter victimhood.  If we are called to lash out, then so be it, but for my part I hold that forgiveness might bring unity, and, depending on what remains of our faith in humanity, even love.

It sounds like a tall order – perhaps this is what is meant by talk of hope.

Redpillneo is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com.  Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Hope 2009

  1. davidrsheehan

    What’s interesting to me is that there are *plenty* of conservatives who are livid at some of the rapid changes happening right now and actually pine for a return to the past 8 years.

    Can’t say I agree with them, nor do I see all the changes I really hope to have affected (there is, for example, a real lack of focus on education – the fundamental “prevention” to most problems). But, we will see – I can’t believe how people keep forgetting that Obama’s been in office for less than half a year right now.

  2. eelliso1

    I think considering the ridiculous size of the Palin camp and the fact that someone with her ideologies and obvious lack of experience or intelligent thought was even brought to the forefront of American politics for even a minute may answer some of the posed questions from above.

    The fact that any side was rationalizing her nomination is frightening, but perhaps the more frightening thought would be that a group out there still anticipates her to run for the presidency in four years.

    Quite simply any Sarah Palin supporters are looking at stepping America back about, oh lets say fifty years. I am assuming there are probably even republicans out there who would support Ann Coulter for the presidency. Considering there are still Americans supporting either the answer to “Has the Republican Party learned that theistic fundamentalists have no place in our political community,” is likely, and unfortunately, a no.

  3. Po

    I like your humanist approach to this topic… however let’s not underestimate the idiocy of the general populous. Even if the Republican party were to fall tomorrow something else equally awful would surely crop up from it’s innards. On a more positive note it does seem as through a lot of progress has been made over the past couple of months in terms of the average persons talking points of a wide array of issues. Sadly this may only be because our president is charismatic enough to convince others of his opinions… not because people are actually becoming logical enough to think for themselves.

    • davidrsheehan

      Let’s be fair, logic is a far cry short of what is needed, Po. Logic is taking the information given and processing it to determine how that information will be used, passed on, or ignored.

      In fact, what’s problematic is that people don’t *want* to approach ideas over events/people. Obama’s ability to bring ideas to the table is remarkable… but ideas don’t sell stories, don’t easily fit in the media, and aren’t quickly and stupidly conveyed. It’s the aversion to trying to tackle ideas that’s the root of the problem… not what people could do with the information they’re given.

      I guess what I’m getting at is that someone’s mind could be perfectly logical and that still doesn’t make them intelligent if they’re not willing to go out of their way to *want* to think and *want* to tackle ideas.

  4. The Republican Party is on the verge of dying.

    Less people are calling themselves Republican and more Independents are voting Democrat. The interests of the electorate are changing. Given the rejection of Republican candidates in the past election and newfound unpopularity of the Party, one would think that the G.O.P. would change its platform and begin to support liberal policies (Liberal in the U.S. In other 1st World/core countries, these policies are taken for granted. Moderate, really, when placed in comparison).

    Nope. The Republican nominees are as conservative as they’ve ever been. As the voting block for Republican primaries shrinks and shrinks, only the most conservative voters remain. The primary winner, with an extremely conservative platform, continues on to fail horribly in the general election.

    Actually, I feel guilt for labeling the current Republican platform as conservative; it represents few conservative elements. Its not ‘no new taxes’, its ‘more tax cuts’. Its not ‘small government’ or ‘protection of privacy’. Its certainly not ‘conserve the environment’. It is in denial of the failures of the last 8 years and is completely and totally retarded.

    The primary winner, with an extremely retarded platform, continues on to fail horribly in the general election.

    Liberal Republicans have been running in liberal states for years with great success (consider Mitt Romney in Massachusetts). Why the Party doesn’t shift gears bewilders me. They are proving to be neither evil or intelligent enough to run as successful opposition.

    Also consider these factors that have changed since 2000: less Americans are white, less Americans are Christian, less Americans are wealthy. Under 25% identify themselves as Republican (down from 30%).

    Their only chance for success, other than moving the Republican platform left, is if Obama fails and things somehow get worse. I really don’t care to entertain that idea any further.

  5. Pingback: What Is Barack Obama Doing To Piss Me Off Today « project groupthink

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