Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

To My Republican Friends

Some of you have been forwarding to me attacks against Barack Obama in recent days. I thank you for thinking of me, but I have to say that I have neither the time nor the energy to read, much less vet, them all. I have recognized several, however, as the fabrications of Andy Martin, a well known political crank who was the subject of an expose last week in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/us/politics/13martin.html?scp=5&sq=Obama%20Kenya%20Muslim&st=cse . Mr. Martin is a rabid anti-Semite, among other things, so don't expect me to hearken to his claims. Other allegations have been attributed to Wikipedia, which is not a source but a clearing house of sources, and to the South Korean owned Washington Times. Sorry, but these hold no sway with me.

I get my news primarily from the liberal New York Times and the conservative Wall Street Journal, neither of which have deemed these attacks as credible, much less, newsworthy. I don't watch Fox News, but I understand that they have soft pedaled them as well.

I'm writing to you today, however, to make a larger point. Far-right critics of Obama seem to think he is an ideologue, be it liberal, Muslim, or Socialist. Since they are ideologues themselves, they erroneously assume everyone else is an ideologue as well. We've had eight years of the most ideological president ever--a man who believed that all the answers were either in the Bible, in Market Conservatism (to give it a name), or in his gut. I believe that ideologues are essentially lazy. When confronted by a crisis, they simply consult the relevant scripture and leave it at that; alternative viewpoints need not be considered, and gut feelings trump all.

Obama, thank heaven, is not lazy. Obama is a pragmatist and a man of intellectual breadth. He is sympathetic to the poor, but contrary to the facile stereotyping of the right-wing, that does not mean he's a Socialist. He believes in negotiating with our enemies, but that does not mean he's an advocate of World Government. He knows we have to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, but that does not make him a Tree-Hugger. He is, I repeat, a pragmatist, and pragmatism is exactly what's been missing for the last eight years. That's why George W. Bush stripped his administration of everyone with an independent outlook, and that's why he's leaving his successor a nation in shambles.

I don't expect I will change your votes; and you certainly won't change mine. But I hope in the future you will think twice before sending me the rantings of fringe radicals, especially those with anti-Semitic leanings-- I am especially offended by them. Furthermore, I hope you will see past the mud-slinging and whisper campaigns that have so blighted American politics in recent years. I hope you'll support instead candidates at all levels who define themselves by their priorities and competencies, rather than those who dwell on the alleged shortcomings of their opponents.

We have some true crises on our hands, but we're not going to hate our way out of any of them. The torch will most likely be passed to the Democrats, but that of itself will solve nothing. What's needed is concerted effort under dynamic leadership. I think Obama is the more personally resourceful candidate, and that's why I'm voting for him. My choice has absolutely nothing to do with ideology, and even less to do with hatred.

I hope you will respect my decision, just as I respect those of you who support Senator McCain.


lorna said...

If all people who voted for Obama expressed their feelings like you do, this world would be a finer place.


lorna said...


Actually, Richard, if all people -- liberal and conservative -- would express their opposing beliefs as you do, this would be a better world.


Paula Slade said...

Well done sir!