Democrats & Liberals Archives


With the way the Right has talked about the Left these days, you would think that Bush is chased around Washington D.C. by a mob of pitchfork wielding liberals. Again and again, the subject of conservative thought and Right Wing talk is just how much the Left hates Bush. They say its a blinding, unreasoning hatred born out of things like jealousy at his tremendous successes on the war on terror and on the economy. They explain it by saying that he’s given back those tax dollars that we Democrats are addicted to taking away from people, and that’s just ticking us off. And of course, the liberals are traitors to all that is right, good, and God Fearing. It must be hate that has them oppose Bush, right?

Well, here's one liberal's perspective on that. After a decade of relative peace, of great prosperity, 2000 comes around, and what happens? One of the most vicious political controversies of our time. By the end most of us are tired, feeling rather beaten down. At this point, Liberals are in surrender, but it's only out of exhaustion. We just weren't prepared to argue another several months about the issue.

This is important- Bush never successfully defeated Gore in many people's minds. There was no electoral knockout punch to ensure that Bush had the mandate in the eyes of the rest of the public.

Bush went into his first year raring to go anyways, with the result that he irritated a crowd already in doubt as to his legitimacy. His policies, including those towards business, ensured that had things continued the way they were going, Bush was heading for one-term terra firma. Enron and the energy sector collapse were going to be the big stories.

Of course, history took us in another direction, giving Bush a real second chance. If he had played his cards right, he could have been one of those leaders whose reputations among his political opponents transcended partisan sensibilities. That rare sense of national unity seems like a dream now, one that existed for a brief shining moment.

It's useless to blame one side or another for it. The American people had to disagree at some point as to how to respond, and those disagreements, no matter how small or big they were, were bound to have the full force of the trauma of 9/11 behind them.

Being the party in power, however, the Republicans could have done a better job of dealing with that inevitable disagreements, keeping the unity of the country in mind. I honestly believe Liberals were more willing to accept a shift towards the right on these issues. It had been in the cards for years.

To take a film example, Who were the people that reinvigorated the cultural notion of the just war? Often, Liberals. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are great examples. Look at the effect Lucas's Star Wars had. What could better represent the concept of an Evil Empire than well... an Evil Empire!

Spielberg, of course is the fellow behind Saving Private Ryan, the movie that singlehandedly managed to redefine the approach Hollywood and audience members took to war. It is no accident that the language of the greatest generation is part of the language used to support hawkish sentiments in this time.

Those on the right should take note that the Left often speaks of Iraq as an inappropriate war or a detour from the war on terror. With that in mind, the implication is obvious- the Left does consider there to be appropriate battles to fight, especially as it concerns Osama Bin Laden.

Point is, liberals were willing to compromise in the days after 9/11, and Bush had their support in the days after 9/11. If Bush had wanted, he could have secured the Right's foothold in power for the next generation.

But something happened. Maybe those on the Right saw and heard something different, but things seemed to grow more contentious, and winning the war on terror became linked with supporting whatever policies Bush wanted supported. It got simply absurd- It was like the Republicans were expecting liberal politicians to make political conversions overnight. It seemed to us as if the Republicans were abusing their power and the situation to undermine liberal positions on many issues that had little or nothing to do with terrorism.

Iraq was the straw that broke the camel's back. We supported it, and were willing to vote for it, but we did so on the understanding that this really was part of the war on terror, that there was a threat, there were stockpiles, and that in a few short years, we'd hear the dreadful news of a successful nuclear test on Iraqi soil. We were told terrorist might get handed the worse kinds of weapons, and make 9/11 look like a mercy by comparision. What did we find? Nothing of the sort. Oh well, we were confused, but we couldn't be happier at Saddam's fall. I know I was grinning. Few would dispute the joy of that moment.

But in the time after, as Americans died in droves, and the serious weakness of the case for war became more apparent, the sense of things changed. A successful occupation would have been one where things calmed down, rather than heated up as time went on. Instead, each month became decidedly worse than the last. The excuse for this was that the terrorist were trying to break us there, to make us pull out prematurely. A convenient excuse, since it only allows for one "rational" action.

Truth is, few Americans needed such motivation. We didn't want a second Vietnam, especially not when that could mean just another Afghanistan. From the start, the liberals have been fully willing to gut it out. Indeed, most complaints have been about the insufficiency of the invasion force, the lack of progress in reclaiming the cities that the insurgents took over.

But having gone through all that, at such a price, America's liberals have lost their patience with the man in charge. Bush's continued denial of the panoply of errors made in Iraq have only tested the patience that remained.

In the end, it is that exhaustion of patience that is the source of Bush's seemingly intractible troubles with the liberals of this country, not any hate. People are just tired of the empty rhetoric, the incompetence, the disrespect aimed their way.

Do we hate Bush? I don't know. But one thing is for sure: we no longer want him as our president, and through his heedless actions, he has ensured the strength of our opposition to him.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at July 19, 2004 5:28 PM