I Think the Left is Right About This

I started doing something that may seem really odd to people of my political tribe – I’ve started reading The Atlantic.

I started doing something that may seem really odd to people of my political persuasion – I’ve started reading The Atlantic somewhat regularly. Yes, I know it is perilously left-wing. The day I’m writing this piece, for instance, here are the top stories on their main page:

  • Beto O’Rourke Grabbed a Political Third Rail – And Electrified His Campaign
  • Trump’s Incoherent Rally in Charlotte
  • Megyn Kelly’s Inevitable Downfall
  • I Respected Scott Walker. Then I Worked For Him
  • What Progressives Can Learn from Michael Avenatti’s Mistake

They’re leftists. I get it. But I’ve become increasingly cognizant of the dangers I have of slipping into a conservative bubble where I disregard any thought that doesn’t immediately conform to my biases and assumptions. The age of social media – where you follow what and who you want to follow – only intensifies those dangers.

So, I force myself to read articles about topics of interest to me that are written by someone who sees the world completely differently than I do. Sure it can be annoying; but I’ve also found it to be extremely productive in helping me find reason for some middle ground with people I could otherwise easily dismiss as my enemy.

Along those lines, consider a piece written by David Graham entitled “Trump Wants to be President of a One-Party State.” Graham’s underlying thesis is that President Trump only cares about appealing to one side of the country, dangerously conflating his roles as leader of the Republican Party and President of the United States.

I freely admit that I have been troubled by this apparent reality. The most noticeable aspects of Trump’s presidency are his frequent “rallies” that he holds across the country. And these are nothing if they aren’t Republican Party, convention-esque barn burners where Democrats are mocked, trashed, and harpooned without mercy. As someone who believes part of the president’s job, whether he likes it or not, is to unify the people of the country, these rallies can be quite counterproductive.

That doesn’t mean the president needs to be a doormat like George W. Bush was too often. And it certainly doesn’t mean the president needs to acquiesce to leftist politics like a President John Kasich (perish the thought) would have fallen all over himself to do routinely. And as Graham notes:

> [T]here is a more elaborate confusion at play. Every American president has to wrestle with the dual burden of being the leader of the nation as well as the leader of his political party. Inevitably, there are places where he errs. Every president is criticized for using Air Force One and official time to campaign for candidates of his own party. Eight years ago, it was a multiday scandal when Barack Obama carelessly referred to political “enemies”; now that’s just Tuesday morning. Trump has repeatedly stunned Washington by injecting naked politics into occasions and tasks that were once meant to be beyond the grubby reach of partisanship.

Obviously I think that Graham is painfully wrong if he thinks Barack Obama is merely peripherally guilty of the kind of divisive rhetoric that Trump commits routinely. I’ve written many times before, and will always maintain that Obama represented a sea change in American presidential politics. He was (and remains) a community organizer who came to the presidency because of his community organizing skills. Let’s not ignore what those skills are: the ability to divide people, exacerbate divisions, motivate one group while isolating, paralyzing, and vilifying another, riding that swell of anger and passion to power.

Obama regularly treated occasions that “should have been beyond the grubby reach of partisanship” with naked appeals to politics. Whether it was mass shootings like in Tucson or Sandy Hook, racially contentious moments like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown or Louis Gates, or a host of other examples, Obama’s primary motivation never appeared to be national unity. It’s one example of why I will always maintain that Trump is the anti-Obama, the monster that the Obama movement brought on itself.

But Graham’s inability or unwillingness to acknowledge Obama’s culpability in this type of dangerous presidential behavior doesn’t change the fact that I think he’s right to be concerned about Trump doing it too. For instance, I can hardly object to his assessment that:

> In a one-party state, there’s no such problem of separation. The leader of the party and the leader of the nation are one and the same—and the interest of the party and the interest of the nation are, at least in theory, also the same.

>

> There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Trump sometimes yearns for a one-party state. It’s a thread that runs through his opposition to critical press coverage and threats to throttle the media, his celebration of violence against the press, his incitements to violence against protesters, and his threats to prosecute and imprison political rivals like Hillary Clinton.

Let me reiterate that of course it would have been wise for Graham and like-minded liberals to recognize the bed they were making for themselves when they ignored similar conduct (even if not as transparent) in the previous administration. But the fact that they didn’t doesn’t mean this assessment he's offering isn’t right. And it doesn’t mean that those of us who objected to Obama’s partisan use of the presidency shouldn’t be equally concerned with Trump’s similar behavior.

Excusing it by saying, “What goes around comes around,” may feel good. But it betrays that either we were never serious about the dire consequences we warned about under Obama, or that we’ve accepted the polarization and isolation, content with a party-over-country approach ourselves.

The former doesn’t speak well of our integrity, the latter doesn’t bode well for our republic.

Comments
No. 1-15
Still Jules
Still Jules

Graham’s underlying thesis is that President Trump only cares about appealing to one side of the country, dangerously conflating his roles as leader of the Republican Party and President of the United States

OK, let's dig down a little into that "underlying thesis". When we do, we see that Graham is actually admitting that there is only one party dedicated to governing the nation according to its rule of law, its Constitution. And it bothers him that the leader of the nation is in favor of it.

His oath of office is a commitment to upholding the Constitution. It is his job description and it is his duty, both morally and legally. What Graham finds so upsetting is that this is now, sadly, something approved by only one political party in this country.

There can be two legitimate parties which agree that we must follow the Constitution, but differ on issues. However, we are at a point now where there are two main parties which differ on whether or not the Constitution is the law of the land and the governing philosophy of the nation.

That is a danger to the nation, as if it continues to develop, thanks to an educational system that indoctrinates young people into subversive beliefs rather than actually educate them about the founding of their nation and the reason its constitution is written the way it is, the nation will continue to be more and more divided and internally conflicted. Abraham Lincoln was quoting Scripture when he said a house divided against itself cannot stand, showing that this was known for thousands of years. We ignore it to our peril.

Read Liberal writings all you want, peterheck, but process them intellectually, not emotionally. They are full of glib and superficially appealing or impressive "ideas" but when those ideas are analyzed they always come down to supporting a political SYSTEM that is antithetical to our Constitution and its blueprint for how to govern the nation.

In that paragraph, above, I just summarized the Left---its appeals are glib and superficial, but hide the actual POLITICAL SYSTEM it represents. Too many are led by their emotional reaction to the platitudes and promises and superficial glibness, but ignore the reality they hide.

Big J Boy
Big J Boy

This is an excellent article and thought provoking too. The thought about the POTUS being the leader of all people and not just his political party is on target.

Jonah_Kyle
Jonah_Kyle

Oh please. Virtually every negative you wrote about a conservative is ten times worse for a Democrat, on average. There are at least a dozen senators and governors who have indictable felony offenses, and would be indicted if they were Republicans. Just because Walker is a tough ass boss doesn't translate to a bad politician. And if I read the Atlantic, it's usually to amaze myself how good the art of turd polishing has been advanced these days.

Veritasenvitas
Veritasenvitas

I love how the author defines community organizer. It reveals his own partisan issues with Obama. It always amazes me how the Right in defense of Trumps truly deranged behavior compare it with Obama's time in office. Obama's ideas are what conservatives hated, his philosophy and his progressive ideology. Other than that he was presidential, had gravitas and represented the nation on the world stage with dignity and eloquence. Trump? Not so much!

cancerdoc
cancerdoc

The difficulty, as Mr. Kern has pointed out, is that there is now precious little unum to our pluribus. Loud minorities of the body politic want distinctly different things out of our public life. Their worldviews are in conflict. They don't proceed from the same axioms of thought. If politics is downstream from culture, culture is downstream from the way we answer the fundamental questions about life, the universe, and everything (with apologies to the late Douglas Adams). And increasingly in America the answers to those questions contradict each other.