Column by Baratunde Thurston
I spent the past several months away from politics. It was an involuntary hiatus made necessary by personal and professional commitments that demanded my utmost attention. When I left, we had a stimulus bill in place, a president with high approval ratings and some remaining afterglow from election night and inauguration day.
When I returned in mid August, it was to a country that had clearly lost its damn mind. I turned on one cable station to hear people demanding President Obama prove he’s an American citizen, an insane movement led by an Israeli citizen. I switched channels to see another group screeching in fear that Obama’s health care proposal would institute death panels to kill grandma. On yet another station, Glenn Beck accuses this president of having a deep-seated hatred for half of himself. Flip again to find parents removing their children from school because they don’t want their kids exposed to Obama’s socialist indoctrination. And yesterday, Green Jobs Czar Van Jones resigned after extreme pressure from right wing groups and extreme tepidness from the White House that hired him to do his very important work.
Great. After a brief respite, the most accessible American political discourse has returned to fearful, hate-filled, ignorant rants of a high-volume, low-intellect minority.
In such an environment, how does one govern? Does one try to “balance” such concepts as contradictory as a “public option” on one hand and “fear of death panels” on the other? Or does one realize that this is a false spectrum and to try to find a center in such a sea is a worthless and foolhardy expedition?