This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



The ‘Enemy’

I meant to blog about this back on the 18th, but I got busy and never did.

Since I was an Obama delegate, I got on a whole lot of mailing lists, both the national Obama mailing lists, and local ones. On the 18th I got an email from one of the local Obama coordinators for the 41st district here in Washington. I’ll refrain from actually calling him out by name. And I think it exemplifies everything that made the local Democratic events ones that turned me off so much and made me want to vote Republican instead. Here is the relevant quote:

It is likely that things will not be completed until after the DNC concludes its March 31st meeting regarding Michigan and Florida, but there is a truce of sorts in effect – the Obama campaign is not attacking Senator Clinton, and Senator Clinton has begun to focus her ire on Senator McCain. This allows her campaign and her supporters the dignity they desire for their campaign as they begin to wind down and we begin to learn to work together again against our real enemy.

This is the kind of thing that bothers me so so much. Republicans are NOT the “enemy”. Or at least they should not be. Even if you identify very strongly with the positions of the Democratic party, you SHOULD be viewing the Republicans as people who disagree with you on some issues, and on even more differ on the correct approach, but you should recognize that the vast majority of them are honorable people trying to do what they believe is right. The differences should be ones that one could discuss intelligently and calmly. You should be able to respect the person on the other side, even if you disagree.

But once you cross the line, and start thinking of those who differ with you politically as “enemies” then you have crossed a significant line. You are certainly no longer someone I want to associate with.

And the local Democratic events were full of these hyperpartisans, who view the Republicans as “enemies” and see no value in the views of those on the other side, no need to try to understand where they are coming from, no need to look for common ground.

These are the people who are dangerous. And the analogues exist in the Republican party as well of course. The people who truly KNOW that they are right and that their “enemies” are wrong. Who have no room in their worldview for doubt and shades of grey, and acknowledging that sometimes the other guy has a point.

And it is surprising to me that so many of them are Obama supporters. Have they not read his books? He speaks quite a bit about not dismissing people who disagree, and learning from them when they are right, etc. Anybody who truly believes that the Republicans are “enemies” should not be an Obama supporter.

Of course, there are many, including those on the right, who insist that the bipartisan centrist rhetoric of Obama is indeed only rheotric, and the reality of Obama is actually a hyperpartisan leftist. I certainly hope they are wrong.

But after all, in 2000 George W Bush sold himself as a centrist, a “compassionate conservative”, etc, etc, and we all see how that ended up.

All of this reminds me of my strong feelings that divided government is best. That regardless of who is in power in the White House, it is almost imperative that the congress should be held by the opposite party. Whenever both are controlled by the same party, you are just asking for trouble. (Or apparently, if you do have divided government, but the party running the congress is too gutless to exercise power, you also have no protection… the key is that there should always be significant tension between congress and the white house… with congress jealously guarding its powers and defending against the growth of executive power… so as to prevent most action other than that which truly has near universal support.)

I sent a long email to someone on that topic a couple months ago. I’ll have to dig it up sometime and post it.

2 comments to The ‘Enemy’

  • matt

    i’m neither defending this guy nor disagreeing with you…i’m just making a point…
    and the point is that while the entire definition of the word “enemy” is a reason why i would not choose to describe the situation, there is a part of the definition that does elude to the fact that an “enemy” could be used in this situation..
    “opposes the interests of” is only part of the full definition of the word “enemy”. the other parts of the definition (i.e., “someone who is hostile to, feels hatred towards”) is the reason why i personally wouldn’t chose the word in this context. But that’s a personal choice.
    Opponent, Adversary, Rival — these are words I’d use instead because they denote more of a competitive situation…and that’s what this is — two sides to a competition where one side is eventually going to win by becoming president.
    Using the word enemy like this guy did makes it sound like the goal is more than just “defeat in a competition”. So yeah, the wrong word was used.

  • Abulsme

    Yeah, I understand that the word “enemy” can be used in essentially a metaphorical way, implying conflict, but not outright warfare and not the same level of hostility. But it is one of those words that is strongly loaded and bound up in a lot of emotion. It is one that is designed to inflame passions, not rationality. Etc. And that is what makes it disturbing.

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