Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Blame Game

As I have said many times before, I read the Phila Inquirer with special concentration on the commentary/opinion section. One opinion columnist that I respect and admire is Trudy Rubin. She demonstrates a strong understanding of our efforts and policies in the Middle East and, generally, maintains equanimity in her evaluation of the administration in charge, regardless of political party. The following is an email which I sent to her today.

Mr. Rubin,

While I agree with you that the anti-Muslim rhetoric is dangerous, I think we need to blame liberals as much as conservatives for the escalation, or more precisely, liberal politicians who are more concerned about winning an election than they are about stating the truth.

It is easy for you and I to write/blog that the current anti-Muslim trend runs contrary to our respect for individuals rights (freedom of religion) and the constitution (separation of church and state). But rather than taking a strong stand with facts and clear cut points of reason and fairness, many Democrats are straddling the line for fear of losing their seats in November. Even the President has waffled in his public statements on the issue.

The truly sad part is that this current blame-the-Muslims-for-everything is just an extension of the blame-the-gays which results in the anti-gay marriage movement or the blame-public-employees trend which pits everyday working Americans against their neighbors (who make about the same amount of money).

When an economy is struggling, it is easy to gain a following if you can find a scapegoat, so all of these dramas exist to distract Americans from the real source of our problems. The fact that our deficit is growing due to the Bush tax cuts that reduced our national income, the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the shift of income from the middle class to the very rich and the aging of our nation is ignored because that would require us to face the hard truths about capitalism's problems, the militaristic streak of our politics and the notion that we have a divine right to an ever increasing standard of living.

You mentioned President Reagan in today's column. He is considered the saint of conservative politics yet everyone forgets that his approval ratings in his first term were even lower than President Obama's are now and that he doubled the national debt during his eight years in office. However, he slayed the communist dragon so today's conservatives/republicans have taken a page from his playbook, replacing the evil Soviet empire with today's bogeymen. It is clear that they will not only not work with President Obama but will do everything in their power to see him fail. And the Democrats, rather than standing up to them are caving because, unfortunately, they are really not that much better as they too are more concerned about staying in power than they are about governing.

Finally, the real fault lies with the American voter. And again, you won't hear many politicians or pundits blaming us. We cheer speeches that anoint us as the greatest nation in history then disprove that point by denying our fellow citizens the basic need for access to adequate health care and by encouraging legislation that defines marriage in a way that prevents some of our population from enjoying the emotional and economic fruits of this institution. We have such compelling issues to address and the best form of democracy in which to address them, yet we are lucky to see 30% turnout at primaries and get all excited if we reach 60% for November elections.

Anyway, this turned out to be longer than I expected. If you are interested, I have included a link to my blog of 9/12 and perhaps I will use this email to you for today's blog (I hope that is not a problem for you).

Thanks for whatever feedback you might provide,

Regards and respect,

Joe Pugnetti

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