Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Conservative Friend

Dear Conservative Friend,

You worry me. As you show up at town hall meetings to protest health care reform, I’ve gone from simply disagreeing with you to genuinely worrying about you.

I know, you’re sighing heavily and rolling your eyes, but hear me out.

During last year’s election you sent me emails claiming Barack Obama was a Muslim who wouldn’t wear a flag lapel pin or say the Pledge of Allegiance. Both liberal and conservative news outlets found these accusations to be utterly false. But a couple months later you sent the same emails to me again.

You sent another email claiming Obama wasn’t an American citizen. Twice now Hawaiian officials have verified that Obama was born there. But you keep insisting otherwise.

Though I often disagree with you, your basic, reasonable conservative beliefs should be enough to make you disapprove of Obama. Why do you need conspiracy theories?

The mortgage industry collapse began in July of ’07. Economists say the recession started in December of ’07. You told me last year that our collapsing economy was Bill Clinton’s fault though he left office in ‘01. If that’s true, what was your party doing for the 12 years immediately prior to December of ’07 when they controlled both the House and Senate? And in the 6 years leading up to the recession your leaders had complete control, as Bush was President. In that time they could have enacted or struck down any law. But just a couple months after Obama took office, you told me the economy was Obama’s mess.

Listening to you one would hardly know your party controlled our government for so long.

The pundits you listen to on radio and television say that Obama is a fascist and a socialist and is taking all our rights away. I ask you for hard evidence, but your answers are weak.

You told me Obama would take our guns away. You and your friends flocked to buy firearms. But this May Obama instead signed a law expanding gun rights – allowing them in National Parks.

A few nights ago I saw a hero of yours, Glenn Beck, on his FOX news show claiming that Obama’s legislative record proves he’s pursuing “reparations” for African Americans. The accusation was delivered with breathless outrage, and with no rational evidence.

You’ve been holding “Tea Party” protests because you believe current debt spending will lead to higher taxes. Yet, when your party’s leaders doubled the national debt between 2001 and 2008, I never heard you utter a word of complaint.

Now you and your friends are protesting health care reform at town hall meetings. I’ve seen the posters held up outside these events – doctored photos of Obama shaking hands with Adolph Hitler and Obama with a Hitler mustache.

During one of President Obama’s town hall meetings on health care last week, I turned on your favorite channel, FOX News. They showed a fleeting moment of the President explaining health care reform, then went back to regular programming, promising to return to the President, “if there were any fireworks.”

It worries me that you think that’s fair and balanced reporting.

Conservative friend, you keep telling me horror stories about Canada and England’s health care systems, even though no one in Washington is considering a system like theirs.

You applauded at Sarah Palin’s resignation speech when she implored the media to, “Stop making things up.” A few days later she made the unfounded claim that health care reform would result in, “Death panels,” that would decide who lives and dies. It worried me that you saw no contradiction.

Though most hospitals across the country already offer end of life counseling, you claim that such counseling paid for with federal dollars would lead to euthanizing elderly people. It worries me that you find that claim rational.

You say a federal health insurance program is socialism that must be stopped. Puzzling, because during the Bush years the leaders you elected reinstituted welfare-style “subsidy” checks to farmers and devised a drug benefit program for the elderly. Both programs took money from those who had it and spread it around to others. Why didn’t you protest that socialism?

My Conservative friend, back then, when I protested, you told me I was un-American to criticize the Commander and Chief while our troops were at war. Well our troops are still at war. I don’t see that stopping you now.

Yes, friend, you worry me.

You seem averse to introspection. You insist that every problem is the other side’s fault, and in fact would have turned out fine if things had only been done your way. And when you hear things that conflict with your point of view, it’s dismissed as a liberal news media lie. Therefore, you never have to reevaluate your beliefs.

You worry me because you seem unable to agree to disagree. How do we have a rational political discourse in this country when anyone who disagrees with you, from Clinton to Sotomayor to Obama you angrily label as racists, fascists, socialists, communists, or America haters?

You don’t seem to realize that it’s possible for someone to love America and disagree with you at the same time. You have no monopoly on patriotism and no exclusive claim to moral values – and you don’t know it.

You worry me because amid all of your shouting and bizarre accusations there seems to be no meeting the opposition half way. In your world, compromise and statesmanship are dead. All that’s left are winners and losers.

Neither a friendship nor a marriage can survive on such terms. And I worry, neither can a country.

I'm not afraid of Obama, I'm afraid of you.

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