This piece has just appeared in newspapers in my conservative 6th Virginia congressional District. This is part of my practicing what I preach when I say that Liberal America should be bolder in calling out the Republican Party for the destructive, dishonest, and disgraceful force it has become in our times. In my newspaper op/eds, I try to challenge the supporters of the Republican Party in terms that will not be easy for them to dismiss.
Any genuine conservative, any real American patriot should be outraged at the way the Republicans are treating the President of the United States. Our founders did not envision any president being treated this way.
The latest affront is the lawsuit the House Republicans have brought against the president. That suit should ring an alarm bell for conservatives because it is unprecedented in American history. To a conservative, what is unprecedented is inherently suspect: There’s likely a good reason it has not been done before.
But this suit is just the latest episode in a disgraceful story.
Never before has the party in opposition made its top priority to stop the president from accomplishing anything. And, with the House of Representatives controlled by the Republican opposition, never before has a Congress accomplished so little. Republican obstructionism has intentionally prevented the system our founders gave us from dealing with grave challenges. This is a record no patriot should celebrate.
Lest anyone imagine that Republicans have obstructed because the president’s proposals are extreme, note that Republicans in Congress have blocked measures – on gun control, immigration, minimum wage – that are supported by large majorities of Americans, favored even by majorities of Republican voters. Republicans have also regularly opposed their own ideas once the president favors them.
It is only at the superficial level that the object of the Republican assault is President Obama. This is an attack against the system of government our founders gave us.
That system created a job of great importance – the presidency – and provided a means for the American people to choose who should perform that job on their behalf. If the people choose a president who has run on a promise to enact a major piece of legislation, our founders would want the opposition to honor the people’s choice, and to use their influence to make that measure as effective as possible. But Republicans have shown no such respect for the people’s decision; even though this president was elected and re-elected with large majorities, Republicans have done everything possible to sabotage the measure that they named Obamacare.
And so it has been with every other effort by the president to do what he was elected to do.
Which brings us to this ludicrous lawsuit. Republicans are suing Obama for delaying implementation of a part of a law that they hate and have voted to repealed some fifty times, yet Republicans made no objection when George W. Bush did essentially the same thing with the prescription drug law.
Clearly, Republicans are determined to block Mr. Obama from performing the role of president. Having set records for blocking the legislative process, the Republican-controlled House now votes to sue the president for trying to meet the nation’s needs by the only route that remains to him-executive action.
Americans are angry with Congress. But Republicans figure they can get the American people to blame the “party in power” (meaning the White House) for the failure they themselves have caused. Injuring the nation for partisan advantage – that’s the very opposite of patriotism. And it is unprecedented.
Also unprecedented: Never has an opposition party treated a president with this kind of contempt. Even when Americans have serious reservations about a particular president, it is an American tradition to treat the president with respect.
One has to wonder how these Republicans can get away with talking about a president with scorn and condescension the likes of which we’ve never seen before. One has to wonder if, when white Republicans come, day after day, in front of the cameras to belittle and mock a duly elected president who happens to be the first African-American elected to the office, they are relying on an old cultural current that once said it’s alright for a white person – man, woman, or child – to demean a black adult male by calling him “Boy.”
In every way, we see validated the conservative judgment about the suspect nature of the unprecedented. In this unprecedented Republican treatment of a president, we see the worst angels of our nature exercising the power to defeat the best of our potential.