Tuesday, October 09, 2012

American Values

President Obama is fond of speaking of “American values.” In fact this seems to be one of the main ideas he uses repeatedly in his speeches, saying things like “There are no Republican values or Democratic values, there are only American values.” I understand why he does this, or at least I think I do, but it seems to be to be demonstrably wrong. I suspect this claim or assumption of his is one of the reasons he has not been more successful than he might have been. Because he tends to believe this claim, or at least seems desperately to want to, he mistakenly assumed he would be able to work with both Republicans and members of his own party. He has obviously been disappointed but still seems to optimistically believe there are widely shared important values common to all Americans.

It does seem to me that throughout all of his Presidency so far It has become clear that Republicans do not share the same values as Democrats. Indeed, is this not the main theme of the current campaign? Obama insists that as Americans “we are all in this together,” whereas the Republicans believe in every person for him or herself, a kind of primitive social Darwinism not even shared by the great apes. I guess this is why Republicans keep insisting that Obama is a socialist even though he is so far from being one as to be laughable. The question seems to be not whether Americans share the same values, but do enough of them share the same values to re-elect Obama? Will enough Americans believe in sharing and helping each other as members of a genuine community or will they abandon such values in pursuit of even more individual profits?

It is not only in the matter of rampant individualism versus community that we do not seem to share the same values. Most Americans it seems to me are not at all in favor of more “wars” or even in empire building, but there are those who appear to not be able to get enough of war and the killing and misery that goes with it. Here again there is a fairly stark contrast between Romney’s idea of foreign policy and Obama’s. Romney, along with John McCain and others seems, to believe it is America’s right, even obligation, to manage the affairs of the world through the use of American power alone. Diplomacy they seem to believe is a sign of weakness. Whereas I believe Obama has been much too warlike in general he does seem to at least want to use diplomacy and negotiation rather than immediate aggression to further American goals. I think he deserves much credit for avoiding a war with Iran but I think it is shameful he has imposed such severe sanctions to achieve that aim. The sanctions of course impact innocent Iranian civilians, women and children, far more than anyone else. At least Netanyahu has had to back down on his demands we start a war on his behalf.

I still cannot come to terms with the claim that Romney and Obama are running neck-and-neck in the polls. Can it possibly be the case that at least half of the American public hates Obama enough to vote for the Great White Dope who speaks constantly with such an obviously “forked tongue?” Can a basically “Empty Suit,” running with a smart aleck “Mr. Know-it-all” turn out to be a winning combination? I cannot believe it, but the polls claim it might be possible. After all, American did vote twice for both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, almost certainly the worst two American Presidents ever. Please tell me it can’t happen again.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

H. L. Mencken

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