Weimar America?

I know that I can’t be the only person thinking this right now. Granted, the analogy might be a little extreme in that, one would certainly hope, that the Tea Partiers are not as much of extremists as the Nazi party. I am not calling the Tea Partiers Nazis, so you don’t need to direct any outrage toward me (although, I would say that some of those people’s recently revealed feelings on Islam are Nazi-like). What I am saying is that the weak, ineffectual Obama administration feels a little post-World War I Weimar Republic-like, and America seems too keen to follow that up with voting for some extremists based on outrage and anger rather than rationality and reason.

Consider the evidence – all across America, reasonable people are being voted out of office or are losing out in Republican primaries, precisely because they are reasonable. Mike Castle in Delaware is the latest example.  In Delaware of all places! I am not talking about Montana or Alaska, people.   Then, you have the Republican who won the primary for governor in New York (!!) claiming that his selling point for victory is that he is angry (claiming, for example, that he would “take a baseball bat to Albany.”). Look America, since when is it alright to do anything out of anger? Since when did we consider it a positive development that people threaten violence on others in order to rally the electorate (I am not even talking about violence against a foreign nation; I am talking about violence against fellow legislators)?  I mean, I mocked Ben Quayle for doing it in Arizona, thinking that no one would actually vote for that sort of nonsense, but I was wrong there, and I have been wrong again.  Nope, for these Tea Partiers of today, even Karl Rove isn’t hardcore enough.

The thing is, it isn’t just the Tea Partiers who are guilty, either. You have a reasonable, albeit unlikable, mayor in DC lose to a man who had absolutely no real agenda to speak of other than he wasn’t Mayor Fenty.  The sad part is, the incumbents who managed to win their primaries are the corrupt, morally bankrupt ones like Charlie Rangel. Frankly, everyone should be ashamed of themselves, and after people spend five minutes in a corner thinking about what they did yesterday, then the entire country should get a do-over for yesterday. 

Granted, many of the folks who won yesterday’s primary will not win in the general election, nonetheless, all of us should take a lesson from history and do something before we get what may be coming next. I am talking to you too, Obama administration. You need to do more than be in constant campaign mode. You need to actually do something good with the power that you have before you totally lose all credibility, and we have to turn our country over to complete fools.

Please, Mayor Bloomberg, I feel like you are the only one who can politically save us right now.

4 thoughts on “Weimar America?

  1. I don’t think people are necessarily voting for candidates based on fear or retribution. In general, people don’t trust politicians whether they are Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Greens, etc., and for good reason. But when faced with less than ideal candidates, it is not unreasonable to vote for the candidate that best represents your policy views or “moral” principles. Or at least support a candidate who will (or pledges to) turn around some of the disastrous legislation over the past two years. (Not that I am saying anything about any of the candidates you specifically mentioned.)

    Regarding your comparison with the Weimar Republic, I suppose what America and 1930’s Germany have in common is economic decline (though not depression) and ineffective governance (though that’s not the whole story either there or here). I can’t speak much to German history, but I can say that the US government is a huge part of the problem (economic and political), and a lot of people, such as Tea Partiers, want to see less government control – which is opposite of what people looked to Hitler to do to “solve” the problems of the Weimar republic. Tea Partiers, and conservatives in general, don’t want radical politicians to take over and solve all their problems, but instead are calling for less government intervention, less deficit spending, and a lower tax burden.

    The current government is reaching into many areas of our lives not provided for in the constitution. The tea parties represent a grassroots movement to limit government and to interpret more literally the constitution. I am not a Tea Partier myself, but I do feel the need to defend them because I share the belief that public policy is heading in the wrong direction, it’s hurting our economy, and will continue to stifle entrepreneurship and freedom of choice in many areas, like health care. I don’t see conservatives rallying around a charismatic leader to change society (look elsewhere for that), but to empower ordinary citizens to defend our constitutional and economic freedoms.

    Anyway, you are one of the most informed people I know and although we tend to disagree on politics, I have a lot of respect for you. So this is just a friendly discussion on a subject which unfortunately has turned very ugly in the public discourse. And while I spend more time in play groups than politics, I had to add my voice to the debate.

  2. Thanks for your reply, Suz. You know that I very much respect your political opinion and your opinion, in general, because you are also one of the most reasonable, intelligent people that I know. I certainly understand the points that you are making. So, allow me to clarify a couple of things.
    1. I compared current day America to the Weimar Republic precisely for the reasons that you voted out. I don’t think, however, that Tea Partiers are doctrinally like Nazis, so don’t mistake me on that. I just meant that they are political radicals and that we don’t really know what they would do if they were elected.
    2. What I mean when I say “we don’t know what they would do if they were elected” is that few of them have any actual policy experience. Most of them have run on campaigns of sound bytes rather than actual policy prescriptions. I’m sorry, cutting the federal budget and cutting taxes are not specific policy prescriptions.
    3. You know that I wasn’t an Obama supporter, because I didn’t view him as a proven leader who was capable of tackling the variety of problems that the country faced in 2008. I still feel that way. This has made me even more skeptical of many of the people running for political office this time around. They lack the sort of practical policy knowledge and experience that makes me think they would actually be good legislators. Furthermore, the fury of their rhetoric makes me believe that they would be more interested in doing things for publicity and fame than actually for the sake of whether or not something is right or not. Any candidate that used Sarah Palin to rally support proves my point on this.
    4. Tea Partiers are not uniformly “pro-freedom.” I have serious concerns that many of them do not actually support many of the fundamental rights in the First Amendment, most notably, freedom of religion. The rhetoric that many of them used in regard to the “Ground Zero” mosque proves my point. Frankly, I am frightened when I hear people stereotyping other groups of people or targeting people based on religious practice.
    5. Acting out of anger, in my opinion and my experience, never leads to good results. I may agree with someone 100% on policy matters, but if I hear them using angry or violent rhetoric, then there is no way that I am going to vote for that person. The means still matter in the world that I live in. I cannot support a candidate who behaves that way, because in no agenda is it right to mistreat others. That is why that Alan Grayson dude in Florida would never get my support.
    6. I support fiscal responsibility as well. However, I think that to do that, you have to be realistic and also look at slashing the military budget as well, not just entitlement spending. We have spent so much money on fighting wars that have gone nowhere, and I don’t hear Tea Partiers being honest about the fact that one of the things that drove us into this period of fiscal irresponsibility is the fact that we have spent too much money on unneccessary wars. For that reason alone I can’t take Tea Partiers seriously, because they are complete hypocrites. You can’t talk about cutting government spending without talking about cutting funding for the so-called “War on Terror.” (Sidenote: I do support the military, and am pro-spending for military salaries, benefits, etc., but our spending on warmaking is what is out of control. Just thought you might want to know that matter of clarification. So why have the miltary then? I would like it if we could be more peace-keeping focused, offering greater support to UN peacekeeping activities, etc.)
    Anyway, you know me, I am always afraid that I don’t say things clearly. I am definitely capable of realizing that my knowledge is pretty limited; but I am also old enough to realize that means that others’ knowledge is also pretty limited. That is why when I hear these people claiming things with such certainty, as if the political world could be simplified into black and white, it terrifies me. That is why I don’t like moderates and people who were willing to work across party lines being voted out of office. People who governed based solely on “principles” and not on practicality are terrifying, because it means we will have a government that is gridlocked and unable to do anything. That will be the most unhelpful result of all.

  3. Thanks for clarifying your points. We could continue this discussion, but should probably do so offline or this could go on and on. And ultimately we will probably have to agree to disagree, which is probably the healthiest way to end a political discussion.

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