Friday, October 16, 2009

Does "Yes We Can" Mean "No You Can't"?

Peter Beinart, the senior political writer for the Daily Beast, has joined Michael Moore, who recently ordered liberals to "Get Off Obama's Back." Beinart, who is also a professor of journalism and political Science, says that liberals need to "Lay Off Obama."

The irony of these two individuals trying to shield the president from criticism is very rich. Moore produced Fahrenheit 911 -- a 2-hour documentary that offers an extensive critique of the Bush administration and militarism. And as a journalism and political science professor, critical analysis should be as normal to Beinart as oxygen. Yet both Moore and Beinart have chastised liberals for criticizing Obama. Here's a message for both of them: Lay off Liberals.

I have written extensively on the subject of political dissent. Accordingly, I will not write much more in this post. Nonetheless, I will will take a moment to reiterate the historical fact that no social movement -- liberal or conservative -- has effectuated substantial change without engaging in dissent -- including public disagreement with political allies. The desire for change itself represents discontent with the status quo.

Because Obama campaigned largely on the promise of change, his supporters' efforts to condemn honest criticism of his policies contradict the most central message of campaign. "Yes we can" apparently means "no you can't."

Liberals should offer honest and constructive criticism of Obama when it is warranted. Anything less is disrespectful and unhelpful.

1 comment:

Aspasia said...

Beinart said: "He’s on his way to an historic health-care win."

Is he high, stupid or joking?

The behavior of some liberals these last several months is nothing short of embarrassing. These are the same group of people who celebrated the fact that liberals don't engage in group think, will criticize our own in order to keep each other on our toes and find debating issues to be necessary for progress instead of an inhibitor to it.

Yet every week there's some piece like Beinart's or Moore's chastising us who haven't traded our feisty liberal independence for a membership in the Personality Cult of the Moment.

Liberals engaging in this behavior is worse than when any conservative does it; quite simply, conservatives have been the supporters of the status quo and conformity. In short, they never put up a facade. We know what to expect from them. I have to wonder, then, if, for many of these liberals, their political choice wasn't just an emotional reaction to whoever was in power at that time. What happened to the principles they believed in so much?

It's amazing how many liberals have suddenly misplaced those principles. Equally amazing how, when I criticize Obama based on his abandonment of campaign promises, his continuation of far too many Bush doctrines relating to the "War on Terror", I'm asked by supposedly "die-hard, bleeding-heart liberals", "Are you a Republican?" To which I reply, "Are you stupid?" If that's the party pushing for universal health care, free or highly discounted university tuition, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, being anti-torture, anti-Big Business bailouts, among other things, then yeah, I guess I am. But damned if I didn't think the Republican party supported the very opposite of my principles. How sad that supposed liberals can't even identify what their principles are supposed to be.

Okay, I'm going to stop my response here. But this just opened up a floodgate for me.

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