January 5, 2010

Delegitimizing Obama

change-hitler-obama-lenin1.jpgDelegitimization seems to be the kindest way to understand the approach of today's Republican Party with regard to President Obama. If we start with the assumption that the far-right has decided that their optimal strategy is to thoroughly delegitimize Obama's presidency, virtually all of their tactics begin to make sense. Even the many despicable examples of racism can be viewed as a strategic approach in service to the larger goal. Rather than engage in constructive efforts to improve Obama's policies (many of which badly need improvement), the right has chosen the destructive path of delegitimization.

The problem I have with this choice is that it contributes nothing more to America than possibly helping to get Republicans elected (maybe). The role of the opposition party is supposed to be one of helping to keep the other party honest. By engaging in the debate, they can influence policy. Republicans have some good ideas, and they are only harming the country they claim to love by refusing to participate in a good-faith debate. By turning their backs on a president who seems almost delusional when it comes to bipartisanship, the GOP reveals their true agenda - their sole priority is getting elected. They seem to have surprisingly little interest in strengthening their country.

Suppose that delegitimization works and Obama loses the 2012 election to Sarah Palin. The situation she would inherit could be even worse than the one Obama received from Bush due in large part to Republican obstructionism on virtually everything Obama has tried to do. It is difficult for me to understand how this would be in anyone's interest.

I'm not saying that an opposition party should never resort to obstructionism. I can think of many circumstances when this is precisely what they must do. However, it should be a last resort when all else has been tried and failed.

By putting all their eggs in the basket of delegitimization, Republicans are playing a dangerous game. As Newt Gingrich recently said, "...you can't be a right-wing party and govern the country."