Saturday, November 08, 2008

A comment about blogging, civility and fevered swamp stuff

I had planned on commenting at length on Peter Di Guadio's post-election meltdown (see comments), but given intervening events I won't bother. He's pulled down his blog, and meanwhile some jackass put up a parody site making matters worse.

I'm not happy about the outcome of Tuesday's presidential election either. But silliness about "not my president" really is counter-productive and will only turn off the few people we need to reach in four years.

Besides, last I checked Obama became President-elect for the United States, not just for those that voted for him. It's not like you have to sacrifice goats to him*. You are his constituent, too.

After all, do you think the mayor of Waukesha hangs up the phone when I call just because I didn't vote for him? (Sorry Larry.) If he does a good enough job, I may even vote for him when he runs for re-election. (This is, of course, purely hypothetical.)

Talk of assassination wasn't funny when the left did it, and it's not funny now. I remember when the left would claim Vice President Dan Quayle was President Bush's insurance policy against assassination and how outraged I was when I heard it. Well, it didn't take long before I heard the same joke about Al Gore and Bill Clinton, and it wasn't funny then either.

Going deep into the fevered swamps of conspiracy theories like some did during the Clinton era (my favorite was the Little Rock cocaine cartel story) is harmful in two ways: it discredits opposition to Obama's policies and it discourages people from getting involved. Don't do it. It's just not worth it, and you can spare yourself a lot of agony and embarrassment. For the next four years I do not want to hear about how Obama is a plant by the Indonesian Al-Qaeda faction to destroy every Jewish deli in New York.

Finally, Ann Coulter recently wrote,

In the spirit of reaching across the aisle, we owe it to the Democrats to show their president the exact same kind of respect and loyalty that they have shown our recent Republican president.

Starting tomorrow, if not sooner.

In the same column she called Congressman John Murtha's constituents "retards." Gee, thanks Ann. Do you think in four years they might remember that?

I realize that it gets frustrating to see the left get away with unimaginable vitriol. But it doesn't make it easy to criticize the left when some on our side decide to fight fire with fire.

There is an alternative.

In 1992, I remember the day after the election sitting in a campaign office by myself listening to the radio. It was a disaster. Worse, it meant that not only was I unemployed, but there were probably no political jobs to be found. And quite frankly, my initial exposure to politics probably soured me on the whole process.

But Rush Limbaugh came on and he was more upbeat than ever. He gave his audience advice I have never forgotten and follow to this day. Go out and live your lives the best way you can. The best revenge is not letting the other side get to you. Raise your children well. Keep your optimism up. Fight them on ideas. Don't give in to anger and despair. Don't stoop to their level. And eventually we will prevail.

Two years later everything changed with the Contract with America.

We can succeed, and we can succeed the right away. Don't give in, but fight them with ideas, fight them in the way we live, fight them by showing we're better than they are. The double-standard is unfair. So what. We were given the higher standard; let's use it.

When Col. Oliver North came to Waukesha to campaign in 1988, the hippy-dippy left was out in full force. They were screaming and waving things and generally looked like the stereotypes we all know and love. A bunch of us showed up in suits to counter-demonstrate. We smiled at the cops and talked to them. When the cops thought one of our chants was causing more tension, we changed it. We had fun while members of the other side were giving themselves high blood pressure. A few of them got arrested for crossing the protest line. A couple even resisted. (Some advice: if that's a Waukesha deputy hauling you to the paddy wagon, don't resist or you might end up eating the bumper on your way in.)

Both sides ended up on television. Guess who looked better? (Of course, I'm always good looking.)

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't tell jokes or make fun of them on occasion. Derision works, too.

It doesn't mean we can't criticize them. We can, and we ought to. Frequently. Vociferously.

But we ought to know where the line is, and we ought to behave like the civilization we want to defend.

This country survived electing Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson. It survived Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon almost back-to-back. It will survive President Obama, and it won't hurt to call him that. Pretending, and that's what it would be, that his election is somehow illegitimate will only hurt ourselves in the long run.

*yep, I'm getting four years out of this joke.