Hi, I'm the new Democrat
I remember a day, not too long ago, when The Eagle editorial page was a constant supply of humorous statements, outlandish claims, or free lining for my contraband hamster cage. This was mostly due to the fact that many of the contributors to the campus debate were either devoid of reason, or so far flung to a particular opinion that necessary and valuable discourse was completely outlawed. Imagine my surprise when I read last week's column by my conservative counterpart, Michael Inganamort, demonstrating clear thought, agenda-free ideals, and well-supported arguments.
The liberal debater in me would like me to snap back with a fierce anti-voucher Democrat statement, but the academic in me realizes the higher calling of this column; to support the free flow of ideas and intelligent commentary, and provide readers not with recycled jargon and propaganda, but new directions and true visions for American democracy.
Speaking of recycled jargon and propaganda, I've dedicated this edition to the State of the Union address George Bush delivered Tuesday night. While at home in southern California over the break, I had the privilege of listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger's "State of the State" address, and I can honestly say it contained fewer "Hollywood" lines than W's address. Admittedly, I should have been more prepared going into the event. It wasn't until yesterday that I happened upon the "State of the Union Drinking Game," in which shots are taken depending on the frequency of words like "Iraq" (used 17 times), "terror" (I stopped counting at 11) and "seniors" (8 mentions). In all honesty, I don't drink, and I tend to take Bush's addresses rather seriously ... this is what made Tuesday night rather frustrating for me. In the political evolution of George W. Bush, we have witnessed a clear transition from the kept and controlled "W" of 2001 to the authoritative and paternal president of 2004.
Now I'm all for paternal imagery in the presidency. We have Founding Fathers, Uncle Sam, and Franklin Roosevelt's fireside chats to show for our love for familial leadership roles. What I worry about, however, is the brash and seemingly unchecked passion of our current Presidential Papa. A linguist could have a field day with the archetypal accuracy of Bush's manipulative speech; he starts by telling us he has defended us from "bad men," requests the continuation of an unconstitutional Patriot Act that allows our "Dad" to peek into our bedrooms, tells us who he's demanding respect from, teaches a lesson to those who "did not support the liberation of Iraq," and spanks us by mentioning the 34 countries that did support him.
Bush has clearly defined his parenting style; quick to remove his belt to keep kids in line, but slow to provide real solutions for his children who struggle for support and answers. Bush is convinced that his children need not understand the "grown-up" problems he is faced with, and he demonstrates it by saying things like "The killers will fail" and by proposing oversimplified ultimatums to the American public. Rather than allow listeners to look at the issues, weigh alternatives, and come out with logical, intellectual conclusions, Bush depends on fear, protection, and ignorance to manipulate his audience into consensus.
But don't worry, you need not pack your bags for Canada yet. There are leaders in the United States who provide legitimate answers, clear alternatives, and refreshing solutions to the real issues that face the "grown-ups" in America (and even the kids). In California Rep. Nancy Pelosi's response to the president's address, she cites many complaints with his policy of intimidation. While valuing the importance of military and counter-terrorist forces, she argues that "the most powerful nation in the history of the world must bring other nations to our side to meet common dangers. The president's policies do not reflect that.
"He has pursued a go-it-alone foreign policy that leaves us isolated abroad and that steals resources we need for education and health care here at home." Sen. Tom Daschle shared the Democratic vision of an "Opportunity Society," emphasizing job growth and education. Unfortunately, the economic growth of last year does not outweigh the millions of lost jobs, nor is the president's pledge to "leave no child behind" backed with the true financial support necessary to make good on the promise.
It's true that our nation is doing relatively well for itself, it's true that the state of our union is strengthening; unfortunately, this reality has been used by our President to alienate real actors in the political process and shut down those who have divergent visions for America's future. I'm not saying that Democrats have all the answers but merely that exclusionary politics fall short of the true potential of society. My vision for American political discourse is similar to my vision for this column; that we embrace new ideas, challenge our perspectives, and question what has been offered. Only then can we truly engage in the progress demanded by our times.