BY Benita Johnson of Angel Fire
Recently, a part-time resident of Angel Fire, only a few years older than me, wrote to the Chronicle about the hardships of his life growing up in Texas. His logic, which I found difficult to follow, led him to conclude that President Obama has “shredded the Constitution” because of health care reform. This letter got me thinking about my Grandfather who fled Russia as a teenager to escape being conscripted into the Tsar’s army and had just as difficult an early life as the writer. It also prompted me to read several prominent media commentators who have been discussing our current political climate.
“The rise of hyperpartisanship,” writes Jacob Weissberg in the April 26, Newsweek, “is not one of those problems for which the left and right are equally to blame. Democrats – who like legislating better than Republicans do, and who have seldom had the GOP’s ability to march in lockstep – still instinctively prefer to work on a bipartisan basis. They continue to hope, against the odds, that Double R’s (Responsible Republicans) will escape extinction and return to potential partners.”
There are some who believe that all Republicans are far right conservative wing nuts and all Democrats are far left liberal wing nuts. The media has encouraged this view because “if it bleeds it leads.” Truth be known, most Americans are moderates but they are not interesting. They don’t yell and scream or throw bricks so they aren’t news.
My Grandfather was an Eisenhower Republican. He believed that the Federal Government should be fiscally responsible and under no circumstances should interfere in the lives of citizens or mess with the business of business. He passed away in 1972 and would have literally turned over in his grave with the Reagan administration. Reagan not only was fiscally irresponsible but opened the Republican party to the religious right which tried to impose its religious and political beliefs on all American citizens. Further, as a self-made businessman having come to America with no money and ultimately turning a boxcar load of apples into a car dealership and real estate, Grandpa would have known that trickle-down economics would not work.
Although Clinton was a Democrat, because he was a moderate, Grandpa would have given him kudos for being fiscally responsible and balancing the federal budget. Vice President Al Gore also worked hard to reduce the size of government. Grandpa would have found Clinton’s personal behavior ugly but at the same time he would have found the Republicans’ use of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to dig it up a complete waste.
I am certain that my Grandpa would not have supported the Tea Party. He would not have understood why it has ignored the fiscally irresponsibility of the Bush administration but now criticizes the Obama administration for its spending policies. Even though he was a legal immigrant and a naturalized citizen, Grandpa never left this country as a tourist because of his fear that, somehow, he would be stopped and his “papers” scrutinized. He would have been opposed to Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law for fear that it would be misused against all citizens. And he would have been puzzled (as am I) by the Tea Party’s resounding silence on this issue. Is the Tea Party opposed to big government interference in peoples’ lives or not?
Finally, Grandpa would not have understood the anger and hate-filled language of the Tea Partiers. “The midterm season promises no relief from hate-filled language. And why not, when it is so effective at stirring people up? Why not when, according to (the) Harris (poll), a quarter of Republicans think Obama is the Antichrist and nearly half believe that he “resents America’s heritage?” “Drowning in Hate – Ugly Rhetoric Perverts Our Politics.” Ellis Cose, <em>Newsweek</em>, April 12, 2010.