Dear Conservative friends,
I remember watching the 2004 election results and wondering what had become of the country I knew and loved. The 2000 election was painful for me because I genuinely like Al Gore and regarded George W. Bush as something of a (mostly) harmless buffoon who’d never shown much interest in any of the many jobs he’d held. I didn’t despair as I felt reasonably sure that Bush would have a forgettable four years in office and then disappear into the sunset.
It didn’t happen that way.
9/11 changed a lot of things, not the least of which was the way in which George W. Bush operated out of the Oval Office. Not all of this was bad. I admired the way in which he assembled an international consensus and swiftly addressed the Afghanistan situation. He looked very “presidential” and he showed a little more spine than I’d given him credit for.
And then there was Iraq. I don’t think mine was the only jaw that dropped when he went all “ED-209” on Iraq. He was transparently hell-bent on invading Iraq and didn’t give a damn if the stuff he was accusing them of was true.* He fished for any “evidence”, offering rewards to anyone who could find information to support his desire for war which is a recipe for getting falsified documents…which is, of course, exactly what happened.
I wasn’t really excited by John Kerry as a candidate, but by the time 2004 rolled around, I was reasonably convinced that no sane American could look at Bush’s performance in office and think “Yes, I want more of that!” So, when the results rolled in and Kerry was defeated, I faced it with a strong belief that I no longer had anything in common with my countrymen. Any country that wanted four more years of Bush was not a country I felt any kinship with.
Which is a long way of saying that I think a lot of you are feeling a lot like I did in 2004.
I don’t understand why you feel this way because, to me, most of Obama’s faults look a lot like Bush’s. Maybe there’s a tendency to take a politician’s worst acts and ascribe them to his whole party. I looked at Bush’s obsessive secrecy and expansive views of executive power as a “conservative” thing. Now that Obama’s doing the same damn things, I’m more inclined to think “Those aren’t conservative or liberal ideals; those guys are just assholes.”
What I’m trying to say is that, even though I don’t get why you despise Obama so much, I think I have some empathy for the anger and disbelief you’re feeling now. I think it’ll pass. It did for me. Of course, so did my excitement over Obama. He ran as the “anti-Bush” who was going to bring change to the White House. For the most part, he didn’t. I’m still glad he won a second term, but I don’t see much hope for radical reform.
Maybe in 2016, you’ll get someone who’s running as the “anti-Obama.” Maybe he or she will promise a more open and accountable government, a more humble foreign policy, and a willingness to work with the other guy. I don’t see any of that as incompatible with conservative values. Hell, I hope you get someone running on those things. Those are good things, no matter which party you support, right?
And I hope your guy actually lives up to it.
So, anyway, the country isn’t going to hell because Obama got re-elected. I get why you might feel that way, but it isn’t. Check back in four years and, if was proven wrong, well, shame on me. But I guarantee what you’re feeling now isn’t any worse than what I went through in 2004.
* That’s not completely fair of me. After he left the Oval Office, he said that his biggest disappointment was that Iraq didn’t have the weapons of mass destruction whose existence he’d based his case for war upon. The fact that that was his biggest disappointment, though, says volumes about him.