Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Unity in politics

Dennis Hale makes the entirely commonsensical and grown-up point that choosing means dividing. Unity requires the overcoming or suppression of politics. Obama promises to build the kingdom on earth, which amounts to the overcoming of politics. But people who promise that usually end up trying to suppress politics.

If Obama were serious about unity, he’d be Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, or Mussolini. I credit him with not being altogether serious. He’s merely, as Jonah G. would say, a liberal fascist.

Discussions - 5 Comments

If a candidate making unserious declarations about unity were all it took to lump them in with Stalin, Hitler, and company, then I'm guessing you had serious reservations when you pulled the lever for George W. Bush in the last 2 presidential elections.

"Responsible leadership sets a tone of civility and bipartisanship that gets things done. I am a uniter, not a divider and, as the governor of Texas, that is how I have led. It is how I will lead in the White House." - GWB, Nov. 2000

I hardly believed GWB's intent at that time. I also didn't think he was going to try to emulate history's true fascists (and it may surprise some but that was somewhat of a relief to me). I didn't buy "Here comes The Next Hitler!" then, and I'm certainly not buying the "Here Comes The Next Hitler - from the LEFT!" now.

None of this is to say that the threshold for various very bad policies and actions is not well below the extremes of actual fascism.

I'm starting to wonder if the benefit/goal of Mr. Goldberg's book is so much the "problematizing of the word fascism as applied to people like [Mr. Knippenberg]" as it is to simply provide some amorphous cover for the 30%ers (give or take a couple percent) for lobbing another insult at the left, so that, as Hillary Clinton, the Wal-Mart Board Member, has been a wild Communist, Obama is an omen of the eventual jackboots.

Obama promises to build the kingdom on earth, which amounts to the overcoming of politics. But people who promise that usually end up trying to suppress politics.

I too liked Dennis Hale's essay, but these are your words, Joe, going far beyond what Dennis Hale said. Dennis wants Obama to be a grownup about this "beyond partisanship" stuff. "Be specific", says Hale; you imply that Obama has been quite specific enough, thank you. And I agree with Craig Scanlon that Obama, like Dubya, is in a great American tradition. The link to fascism is not just silly; it is offensive. You say Obama's anti-partisanship is not serious. American political rhetoric is often not serious, but I'd say Republicans will have to take his candidacy seriously.

Steve,

The words about the kingdom on earth are in fact Obama's words.

You're right that it's perhaps a mistake to characterize Obama as even a liberal fascist, a la Goldberg. Obama loves words too much.

You're right that it's perhaps a mistake to characterize Obama as even a liberal fascist, a la Goldberg. Obama loves words too much.

Clever.

it's perhaps a mistake to characterize Obama as even a liberal fascist

Joe, come on. Perhaps? This is the least serious thing you've ever posted. I've always expected more from your posts than this. There are far more substantive criticisms of Obama's "love of words" that you can post and have posted in the past.

I agree with all that Craig and Steve have mentioned, but I want to take issue with Hale's (and your) position against Obama's overcoming division as the suppression of politics. While it's certainly the case that democratic politics' bread and butter is the ability to take two (or more) sides on an issue, the necessity of coalitions among factions is no less part and parcel of democracies. Is not overcoming the divisions of the Right's now splintered factions just what you and others on NLT have been pushing recently? That's certainly a push to overcome divisions, plenty of which are not subtle distinctions.

Furthermore, it's one thing for Obama to have rhetoric that talks about "overcoming partisan division", but it's another thing entirely to offer policies and/or a vision (ugh) that convinces people to break out of their partisan molds and come to his support. I won't contend that Obama has yet offered policies or even much of a vision (other than a mantra of "change") that will overcome the division. However, it's up to the public to CHOOSE whether they want to support Obama's rhetoric of non-division. Anyone upon reflection will realize that choosing the choice of Obama's non-division is still a choice, and a divisive one at that--at least with respect to not supporting the other candidates. And if they don't reflect and realize this, then they're this election cycle's sheep; there's never been a short supply of know-nothing sheep, and there's no getting around that for better or worse.

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