America is at a crossroads — we always seem to be, but this time we really are.
We are living under the administration of a president that is now the least popular since World War II. A full one-third of those polled by Quinnipiac rate Barack Obama the worst president since 1945. (Reagan is rated the best.)
What accounts for this? There are dozens of reasons that have been detailed on these pages and many others. The man has lied to us multiple times — and to himself as well, no doubt — and many people now apparently sense this. But I think the deepest reason, the motivating cause, stems from a time Barack Obama actually didn’t lie, but told an important truth.
Back on July 27, 2004, a then obscure Illinois senator made himself famous by standing in front of the Democratic National Convention and speaking these words: “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is a United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”
Did he believe those words? Maybe. Once upon a time. But evidently not very deeply. The fact is he betrayed them completely and almost everything he has done wrong has stemmed from that betrayal. He has acted in the most partisan and deceitful manner, surrounding himself with a tiny group of yes-women and yes-men, making a mockery of his self-proclaimed transparency, shamelessly exploiting interest groups in a way that could only divide our society while diminishing America’s place in the world, and allowing evil forces to grow across the globe.
All of this while being convinced he is always doing the right thing. The rest of us are wrong. He is not the commander-in-chief. He is the moral narcissist in chief. It’s not “I think, therefore I am.” It’s “I believe — therefore it is.”
But most of the country seems to realize that now. And his poll numbers reflect it. Sometimes it seems as if his only real supporters are government employees, food stamp recipients, and the editorial board of the New York Times. Whatever the case, that 2004 speech to the DNC is so far in the rear view mirror we might as well be on Battlestar Galactica.
So what do we do? How do we become — on this Fourth of July — the United States of America again?
First of all, we should get over ourselves. Our country may be great, but we’re nothing special just because we realize a few political or economic points. Moral narcissism is the psychological illness of our times. It infects all of us. Liberals and progressives aren’t the only ones who adhere to “I believe — therefore it is” and make a hash of things. Plenty of conservatives and libertarians do too.
I will admit that we do not suffer from MN as badly, but we still suffer from it. The destructive manner in which Tea Party Republicans and mainstream Republicans treat each other, even in those cases when they believe nearly the same things and differ mainly on strategy, attests to moral narcissism. They should calm down and concentrate on the larger objectives.
The situation we are in this July 4th calls for humility of talk coupled with firmness of action. It does not call for circular firing squads. With thirty-three percent of the country acknowledging Obama as the worst president since the Second World War, people on the other side and in the middle are clearly beginning to listen. Ears are opening. This is, as they saying goes, a golden opportunity.
This Fourth of July, take it. Talk to your liberal and independent friends, family and neighbors, but don’t gloat. Don’t point to the polls and brag “I told you so!” Commiserate with them instead. You and they are Americans, after all, as Barack Obama once said and then forgot or ignored, and it is our great country that has come to this pass. And, as we all know, as America goes, so goes the world.
This is serious business. Just being right doesn’t mean much. Getting things fixed does. We are at that tipping point where it could get fixed. It’s up to us. If not us, who?