I hope it was a sign of the times in the West Salem Starbucks this afternoon. I'm tired of the Democrats in Congress passively putting up with Republican lies.
If it's true what Obama said during his campaign, We are the change we have been waiting for, then what interrupted my coffee house debate with a long-time conservative friend is a positive omen.
We were avidly discussing the current state of national politics. I'd taken serious exception to my friend calling Obama a socialist.
"That's just a word," I said. "What has he done specifically that could be called socialist? I can tell you that most of the hard core progressives are deeply disappointed with many of Obama's post-election policies. They, and I, think he and the congressional Dems have caved to corporations and the health insurance industry -- a far cry from socialism."
My friend started to explain why he thought Obama deserved to be called a socialist, focusing on federal involvement with saving GM and Chrysler from going down the financial tubes, and supposed sweetheart deals with the unions that screwed private investors in the companies.
But a guy who had just sat down at a neighboring table jumped into our conversation. "Hope you don't mind if I interrupt. I can't let that statement stand. It's ridiculous what you're saying [looking at my friend]."
I was pleased to get some support for my arguments. I also was mildly surprised that a stranger would insert himself into a political debate.
The guy addressed that issue, though, when my friend told him that he was interrupting our conversation.
"Well, that's exactly what the Tea Party types have been doing -- loudly interrupting discussions at meetings. I thought you conservatives liked that sort of stuff, people standing up for what they believe in."
Touche, I thought. Good point.
My friend wasn't as impressed with that logic. He already felt outnumbered by me and a couple of other left-leaning members of our Sunday morning kaffeeklatsch, so wasn't eager to have an outsider chime in with more progressive chatter.
I ended up talking with the guy for a while after our group broke up. As I already knew, we had more in common than gray hair and a beard. Both of us were disgusted with how the national political discourse has largely degenerated into sound bites.
Republicans, we agreed, were more responsible than Democrats for this, even though both parties are overly fond of fudging the facts.
I told him that he was justified in questioning someone's use of socialist to describe Obama. We aren't going to be able to solve our country's problems if people focus on name-calling rather than the factual details of what ails us.
A recent Daily Kos poll conducted by an independent pollster, I said, contained disturbing news about Republican attitudes. The poll questioned 2,000 self-identified Republicans.
-- 39% believe Obama should be impeached
-- 63% believe Obama is a socialist
-- 42% believe Obama wasn't born in the U.S.; 22% aren't sure
-- 24% believe Obama wants the terrorists to win; 33% aren't sure
-- 31% believe Obama is a racist who hates white people; 33% aren't sure
This shows that a large percentage of Republicans, at least half, have a seriously strange attitude toward Obama. ("Bat-shit crazy" is another term that comes to mind.)
The Daily Kos post about the poll concludes:
Ultimately, these results explain why it is impossible for elected Republicans to work with Democrats to improve our country. Their base are conspiracy mongers who don't believe Obama was born in the United States, that he is the second coming of Lenin, and that he is racist against white people. They already want to impeach him despite the glaringly obvious lack of high crimes or misdemeanors. If any Republican strays and decides to do the right thing and try to work in a bipartisan fashion, they suffer primaries and attacks. Even the Maine twins have quit cooperating out of fear of their homegrown teabaggers.
Given what their base demands, and this poll illustrates them perfectly, it's no wonder the GOP is the party of no.
Democrats/Progressives need to push back against Republican falsehoods. I was happy to see one guy in a Starbucks speak out when he heard right-wing sound machine statements that have no factual basis.
I'm convinced that faith-based politics is as destructive to our society as faith-based religion (which is just about the only kind of religiosity, of course).
I told the guy that when I heard progressives spouting conspiracy theories about Bush when he was in office, such as that he had planned the 9/11 attacks, I decried this sort of unsubstantiated character assassination.
However, Obama seems to be getting it worse than Bush did. One reason, I'm pretty sure, is that Republicans are more fundamentalist religious than Democrats and independents are.
Here's another Daily Kos poll finding:
Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is through Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?
Not Sure 18
It's no wonder Republicans are such true believers that Obama is a socialist. There's no evidence of this, just as there is no evidence that Jesus Christ is the only way to go to heaven (or even a way).