Okay, I promise that this will be the last post today in which I mention the name Jonah Goldberg, but I simply can’t resist sharing with you his take on the problem with Obama’s candidacy:
Obama’s whole campaign is based on some of the most noble and inspiring sentiments in political life: hope, togetherness, bipartisanship. As he proclaimed last February at a Democratic National Committee meeting: “There are those who don’t believe in talking about hope. They say, ‘Well, we want specifics, we want details, and we want white papers, and we want plans.’ We’ve had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we’ve had is a shortage of hope. And over the next year, over the next two years, that will be my call to you.”
He’s stayed true to that pledge. Not only does he talk about hope — a lot — he talks about the importance of talking about hope. He talks about how he hopes to talk more about talking about the importance of talking about hope. Hopefully.
He touts unity the same way. If we all buy into his “message of hope,” he explains, then everybody — blacks and whites, men and women, Republicans and Democrats, lions and gnus, bears and park rangers, Superman and Lex Luthor — will be united!
But united toward what end, exactly? Or does it all boil down to being united about being hopeful and hopeful about being united?
Obama’s fairy tale is the idea that we can get beyond disagreement. But Democracy is about disagreement, not agreement. We have real arguments in this country, and the political arena exists for us to hash them out peacefully. Obama’s — and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s — “post-partisan” snake oil promises to take the disagreement out of democracy. You can’t do that.
What if you disagree with Obama’s ideas? Are you suddenly against hope? Given recent events, it seems that if you’re not with the Obama program, you’re fair game for tarring as a crypto-racist. And that’s what Obama supporters are willing to say about the Clintons! (Of course, I can barely scrape together two molecules of sympathy for the Clintons. They’ve been playing games with race for years, using the same tactics against their enemies that the Obamans are now using on them.) If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, imagine what hairballs will be coughed up at the Republicans.
Unity around an issue — war, health care, education — is a legitimate appeal. But you can’t defend America with hope; you can’t heal people with unity. Further, it is morally antithetical to democratic values to demand unity for unity’s sake. And it is quite literally impossible to govern that way.