BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Recently a very nice column appeared in the Enid News, written by a talented staff columnist. It recognized the passing of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in a warm, yet analytical fashion, remarking about the civility of the Senate in which those from opposing parties had historically functioned in the conduct of national business.
In the course of his treatise, he cited the election of 2000 when the Supreme Court decided the presidential election, and he dwelt on the point of the acceptance and smooth changeover of government under highly emotional circumstances. This was indeed a remarkable thing, considering the skullduggery which had transpired leading up to that point.
Proving a point I always made when teaching educational psychology – namely that people do not necessarily learn what they hear or read, but do learn that which the stimulation causes them to think – this writer could not help but think about what it might have been like if that presidential shoe had been put on the other’s foot.
What if the Supreme Court had been made up of five Democrats and four Republicans? What if Al Gore’s brother had been the governor of the state of Florida? What if Kathleen Harris, the director of elections in Florida, had been an active partisan Democrat? During the hanging chad malfunction and the manual recount of votes in Miami-Dade, what if information on the raucous protests, shouting and disorder in the hallways showed the hallways filled with identifiable staff persons of Democratic congressmen and Democratic Party employees? What if this shouting and disorder in the halls had ostensibly caused officials to stop the recount – keeping those votes from going Republican?
What if a Democratically-controlled Supreme Court took away the legal jurisdiction from a Republican majority Florida Supreme Court before the votes had been properly counted? Out of such a situation, what if Al Gore had been named president by that Supreme Court?
After the actual Supreme Court decision, flawed as it was, Mr. Gore quickly conceded the election. He went public immediately asking all his supporters to respect the court’s verdict. Mr. Gore seemed quite concerned with the preservation of the Union, and that no precedent of disorder or any challenge outside the legal system even remotely be considered.
Again, what if Mr. Gore had won in that bizarre scenario? Could we have expected the same gracious manner and actions from Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and their crowd of advisers and supporters? Think about that!
Would Republicans accept losing under such conditions with only a smattering of outcries about a stolen election?
While Democrats considered Mr. Bush’s first term as an illegitimate presidency, the anti-war demonstrations and cries for impeachment came in his legitimate second term for offenses in office. Nobody was leading “tea parties” against taxes, although a burden had been shifted off the wealthy to the rest of us. No one called for rebellion or secession from the union because the deficit was run up by an unnecessary war and those selective tax cuts. Nobody wore guns to protest with Nazi hate signs.
Noting such Republican tendencies and their penchant for conspiracy theories, their belief in ideas about the mysterious birth place of Mr. Obama, suspicions of him as Muslim, accusing Obama of plotting to kill off old people – then might one not expect quite a different response from Republicans? The current paranoid Republican flap, led again by rightwing talk shows, about Obama giving a motivational talk to school kids tells us: “Yes.”
Comedian Argus Hamilton’s recent column noted that while Democrats tend to look at the glass as “half-full,” Republicans say, “Somebody drank half my glass!” Republicans have also been known to circulate the rumor that: “Somebody pushed Humpty Dumpty off that wall. Then Obama’s health care plan rejected Humpty because he was too old.”
And what mental process makes people so motivated to support predatory insurance companies? What have they been told? What are they thinking? Without a public option, who will be the big winner in all this battle? And the answer is – the gouging, cold-blooded insurance companies. They will have bought and paid for the right to gouge us through their donations to interest advertising groups and from their lobbyists to Congress, people from both parties.
We have witnessed disorderly and threatening behavior, the “tea parties” against taxes not yet levied [actually lower], the hate speech and gun-toting, and the touting of insurrection and secession, all by Republicans or organized, supported, and defended by them. This has happened in six months of a new administration overwhelmingly elected with a known platform.
How could we ever believe the Republicans would have accepted the controversial 2000 election in the same gracious manner as Al Gore and his followers? No, they do not accept election of an overwhelmingly popular candidate. Through their use of money and media, they have managed to convince large numbers of Americans that the agenda they voted for is somehow bad, socialistic, and downright un-American.
Of course, much of this is due to enactment of necessary solutions to actual economic problems inherited from the last administration. There is also the matter of accumulated deficits from tax cuts and lavish war spending. Given a clean slate with no huge inherited problems, most of the Obama agenda might have already been passed. The diversion of the economy has taken time, attention, and energy away from proposals to change the future of the country and its citizens.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer