When I was protesting the Vietnam War in 1968 it was suggested more than once that if I didn't love America – and its policies – I should leave. Many young Americans did… not because they didn't love America, but because they didn't agree with its policies and mostly to avoid the draft and the war.
At the time, I couldn't comprehend the idea that Americans could not embrace debate and disagreement. It was just plain counterintuitive that a country founded on the principle of freedom of speech could reject debate on an issue as fundamental as the loss of ones own life.
Today I understand where the pro-war advocates were coming from in the 1960s. I simply can't accept the fundamentalist approach by the Republican Party to health care and the public option. Their refusal to listen, to understand, to discuss, to embrace the majority will is unacceptable. We live in a Democratic – with a capital D – nation today. I admire the administrations' symbolic attacks on Fox News as an extension of the Republican Party. If you watch Fox News, their argument implicitly suggests, you are watching mouthpieces for the Republican Party. And if Fox News cannot offer a balanced perspective, then they are part of the opposition and not deserving of the President's support in any way. Fox has proudly engaged in anti-administration lobbying, organized anti-administration rallies, raised funds for anti-administration initiatives, and even admitted to an agenda dedicated to bringing down the President. This strikes me as no less Anti-American (in fact more anti-American) than the anti-war protests of the 1960s. The difference is that Fox purports to be a news organization owned by a parent company that operates television stations licensed by the federal government. With those licenses comes a responsibility to act in the public interest. Fox is the voice of a minority and is acting against the interests of the majority and a duly elected President and Congress.
Fox News is attacking our nation's best interests from the inside like an insidious virus – one that serves only to reinforce the fear of our enemies, their hatred toward us, and their commitment to continue fighting against us. The voice of Fox News, I expect, is the propaganda tool that is most effective in recruiting new members to Taliban and Al Qaeda.
It must be a Sophie's Choice for the fundamentalist American right whether to focus now on health care or Afghanistan. The battle against Islam is core to the religious right in America. It is no accident that the President's decisions on Afghanistan are being made parallel to Congress' debate on health care. If we get a public option, President Obama expands the war. If we fail to get a public option, our soldiers will be brought home. One or the other, Republicans. If we fail to win the public option AND we expand the war, then Democrats can forget retaining a Congressional majority in the 2010 elections.
This is the time for Democrats to flex their muscles. Only 20% of Americans admit to being Republicans, and that percentage is steadily shrinking as the party continues to be the party of "no". There is no place in America today for a political policy that simply refuses to discuss, debate and ultimately compromise. If those who support these Republican policies refuse to accept the concept of majority rule, if they cannot love an America that embraces the needy, if they cannot live in a society that rejects their myopia and selfishness… then perhaps they should leave America.
Of course, there is no place they can go. At least in the 1960s, Canada, England, France and Australia seemed like reasonable options to the anti-war crowd. Where would a Republican go where they might find a more agreeable political environment? The only foreign countries that come immediately to mind are South Carolina, Texas and Alaska. This raises an interesting issue of states rights, which is ultimately where our socio-political debates are heading. In ten years, we're likely to have two countries in America. Every major social issue we face today will be defined by states – and those who cannot accept the rule of the state they live in will need to leave and move to states with laws that are more consistent with their parochial views. Red States, Blue States and neutral White States. If I lived in South Carolina right now, or in Michelle Bachman's district in Minnesota, I'd want to move. Fundamentalists who live in New York, California or Massachusetts should consider moving to South Carolina and stop insisting on imposing their rigid, minority rejectionary politics on the majority of their neighbors who favor a public health care option.
Jackson Merritt has been writing about culture and counter-culture for nearly four decades. Jackson has been an outspoken advocate in Washington for increased media commitment to children's educational programming and for an improved media content ratings system. Jackson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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