Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Right's Paranoia, Fear of New Ideas

Good Morning Bloggers! I thought President Barack Hussein Obama's speech this morning in Cairo was one of the most inspirational and impressive that I've ever heard, and that includes great speeches throughout history. I realize it may sound hyperbolic, but it's my opinion. I was moved to tears.

So, going with that premise, how do we discuss a speech of such magnitude? It would be redundant - and 24/7 news-channel-like - of me to simply reiterate point for point and discuss the policy potential ad nausea like every other pleb unworthy of the brilliance that is Barack Obama.

No, I would rather respond to the cacophony of Republican critics already out there shouting down the president's aspirations by taking a look at the historical impact of similar inspirational speeches. What impact did they have had on human history - or lack of impact. I realize we're not academics and cannot possibly cover the issue very well, but I say let's take a stab at it. It is a very interesting question.

As part and parcel we need analyze the critics of those great speeches. Who were they? That should help us understand motive when it comes to the critics of Obama's speech today. First, what were the great speeches? Second, who were the critics? That's our mission here. It will hopefully paint a clear picture about what shapes our history. Do inspirational speeches work? What, if any, is the impact? Are there themes of "negativity and opposition" that pollute human social evolution throughout time. They are all fascinating questions.

So, let's find out by exploring a few examples. Let's first look back at one of our more recent inspirational speeches, delivered by President Ronald Reagan standing before the Berlin Wall dividing East and West Berlin on June 27th 1987. I hate to admit it, but I remember it fondly.

He took it upon himself to describe an undivided East and West. He made the now famous appeal to the leader of the then Soviet Union (inspired by John Kennedy's original appeal) "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." So, who was opposed to that speech? Was anybody? Not surprisingly, it was the far right. It's true, the Democrats supported President's Reagan's call for more openness. The GOP was suspicious at the time.

It's all part of the now famous "Reagan Myth." Republicans like to think they were the progressives at that time, and today they suckle on the idea they supported him in his efforts to remake history. That's incorrect. Some moderates did, but the far right was highly suspicious of the changes promoted by the president. Most historians give credit to the Democrats for supporting Reagan's inspiration at that time.

The far right Republicans back then saw Reagan as too weak when it came to Gorbachev. Their fears climaxed during the Reykjavik, Iceland Summit when the far right saw Reagan promising to give away their precious nuclear arsenal to the Soviets. The far rights's fears were articulated at that time by Reagan's buddy Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK. Despite their close relationship, she criticized Reagan harshly for going off half-cocked when it came to relations with the soviets.

Most Democrats of the time believed Reagan's sincerity and inspiration, and were hoping and praying for his vision of a nuclear arms-free world. Many of us today see that as a reason why he was a great Republican president.

Another great inspirational speech is obvious to most of us, and it wasn't delivered by a politician. It is the I Have a Dream speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28th, 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial. So, who opposed the Civil Rights's Movement? That answer is somewhat complicated. Let's simplify by saying that right-wing Democrats of the time, based mostly in the South, opposed the movement. They were supported by right-wing Republicans at the time. Again, regressives show their true stripes, despite their party affiliation.

Left-wing Democrats and moderate Republicans supported it. Lyndon Johnson's success ultimately fractured the Democratic Party in the South, leading to Nixon's Southern Strategy (divide and conquer conservative southern Democrats), and the birth of the modern Democratic and Republican parties. It is a fascinating time in American political science/history.

A final example of another great inspirational speech was heard just before Dr. Kings and was given by another Republican. It was the Farewell Address delivered by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 17th 1961, and it was all about mutual respect and the need to alter the dangerous trends of the Cold War. He was fearful of an out-of-control arms race, and the "military-industrial complex." Once more, the far right, embodied by his VP Richard Nixon, opposed Eisenhower's aspirations and quietly undermined any progress.

Kennedy later embraced Eisenhower's approach, but his assassination and LBJ's expansion of our commitment in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia ultimately ended those American dreams. Still, the speech is a personal favorite, and relevant today.

So, my examples, among many other possible ones that I reviewed, support my theory. The political forces that inevitably rear their ugly head to oppose great transformative, aspirational and inspirational thinking throughout history seem to be the far right, or the regressives. They always seem to oppose proposed change. They always seem to oppose what is possible, choosing instead for the status quo. I welcome a real debate on this issue, but my cursory analysis seems to support my theory so far.

Ask yourself why do Democrats elect to use the term "progressive?" It wasn't all about the GOP trashing of the word "liberal." It had a lot to do with promoting our core governing philosophy, which is about change and focusing on the future and mankind's potential. While the GOP focuses only on what individuals can achieve, we progressives enhance our individualism by combining it with a trust in social institutions - like government - to help us achieve.

Why do I mention this? It's because I believe that - based on historical evidence - psychologically far right Republicans lack the genetics necessary to be inspired by their fellow man, especially if those men are in government. They do like strong leaders, but only if those leaders are focused on delivering one thing in various forms - personal security, financial security and tribal security. Their entire modus operandi seems to be based on FEAR and SUSPICION of others.

They are the proverbial Deaf or Tin Ear, Echo Chamber, and/or Paranoid Pete. They like to call themselves conservatives, but that's just a pretty way to describe what is in reality a human psychological disorder reacting to fear in all its forms. Let's admit it, it's more appropriate to call them by what they really are: paranoid regressives, or political/social cowards.

They are instinctively - or genetically - suspicious of everyone and everything. They are genetically UNINSPIRED and UNINSPIRING, and will fight to keep whatever control they can to make sure that nobody can hurt them, their family or their tribe.

At this point, please don't get mad at me for leaving your favorite speech out of this discussion. There are simply too many. If you want to identify your own inspirational speech, and discuss the opposition to make your own case, feel free to visit American Rhetoric to find their Top 100 speeches. You can read them, and even play the audio for some. It's very interesting.

My conclusion is that great speeches do affect change and effect history. The great men and women who deliver them don't always see the progress, especially since it's slowed by the foot-draggers of history I call regressives, but it does slowly happen. Great men like Barack Obama seem to be put on this Earth as triggers for progress. I believe that President Obama's vision in his speech today will come to pass. I just don't know how long it will take. Let's hope it doesn't take too long, so that we can all enjoy a better world.

President Barack Hussein Obama's speech was amazing. I only hope the majority of Americans take the time to listen. If you didn't catch it, please take the 45 minutes or so to listen now - click here. It's time to push back against the regressives who have fought the progressive tides of history. It's time to stand up for positive change. Let us hope that most Americans aspire to live in a better world, and join together to do whatever they/we can to make this man's vision a reality.

Thursday's Political Rave - Michael


Nancy said...

Michael - What a wonderfully, well-thought out essay. I agree that conservatives are hard-wired for backward thinking. Political and social conservatives have played a very negative part in the history of our country.

Before and during the Revolutionary War, our conservatives were the British loyalists. They played the same part in the War of 1812. They were for states rights regarding slavery later in the century, and women's suffrage was another target of their scorn. They were the isolationists before both world wars (sometimes anti-Semitic and against civil rights legislation in the 50s and 60s. Of course, they were for the Vietnam War, voted for Nixon in 72 and they were for trickle-down economics in the 80s.

They argued that global warming was a farce and are currently supporting the fiasco in Iraq. Gay marriage is in their sights as an issue to be demonized, along with stem cell research, and a movement towards a federal theocracy is gaining steam. The current recession began in 2006 with George W. Bush as President and a majority in Congress.

Backward-thinking, reactionary, historical revisionists have always been around to do battle with those who are committed to meaningful change, and that they have almost always been dead wrong. There is copious information readily available describing the damage that has been done to this country under the direction, tutelage and leadership of conservatives.

Additionally, George Washington himself, considered the Colonists rebellion to be treason at first. Thus denoting a rift early on between him and Jefferson, as far as ideological differences were concerned.

Also worth noting, he halfway contributed to the French and Indian War, b=y being a little overly enthusiastic in his efforts to attack a French Fort. Which in turn lead to higher taxation of the Colonists, so the British Empire could finance a war against France. Made me wonder what he was thinking when people were screaming, "No Taxation without representation" when it was his youthful indiscretion, that lead to a brush fire turning into a national forest inferno.

President Obama's speech will, no doubt, become the seed that plants better communication with the Muslim world - just as George W. Bushes speeches enflamed anger and distrust.

by Michael Boh said...

Look who's talking, seeing as that was a wonderfully, well-thought out response. I just hope others appreciate the work. Blogging may be micro-publishing, but it can be fulfilling when people connect to discuss what is right, and wrong, about this great country and world. Let's just hope we influence a few Laodiceans (the spelling bee winner) with our work. :)

Nancy said...

Michael - We might be able to influence those lukewarmers (had to look up Laodiceans), but never the reactionaries! :)

ghostrider6265 said...

Geez Nancy why not fly down to LA and polish Boh's helmet and really show your appreciation.

ghostrider6265 said...

Boh I would think a man with your talent would have a number 1 best selling book, but you do not, have you ever wondered why?

If not I will tell you, you have really nothing to say, but you do have a lot of opinions, but opinions are like assholes they all stink.

Nancy said...

ghost - Yawn zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

by Michael Boh said...

GR, you're rude and disrespectful to both of us (especially Nancy, which reeks of mysogynism - look it up and get smarter), but at least your kid friendly.

Nancy, I love the way right wing tards like GR always judge your worth based on how much money or fame you have - or at least GR does. What a shock and surprise (he said sarcastically).

GR, you don't know me or my values, so your crude judgments ring hollow. Your materialistic dreams or standards make you sound like a malcontent. I'll bet you were a big bully in high school who didn't study and wound-up old and poor. That's probably why you hate everybody who doesn't think and act like you do, and why you love successful angry right-wingers - they make you feel better about yourself. I'll bet you even beat your spouse.

Trust me, healthy individuals like Nancy and I tend to be well balanced and happy. I'm sure you couldn't relate if you tried. I would say good luck, but something tells me it wouldn't help with the baggage you're carrying.

Nancy said...

Michael - Poor old GR. In his weak attempt at shock and awe, he shows himself to be nothing more than a lowly rock thrower.

He seems to have emerged from the mists of time untouched by human evolution. Devoid of a single progressive idea and lacking the slightest awareness of social and cultural advances, GR has developed an incoherent political philosophy that he characterizes as "conservative", but which could be more accurately described as "bigoted, misogynistic narcissism". In pitched battle, he easily loses control and his attack quickly degenerates into a rock-throwing fest. Just a few words from us can throw him into a towering incoherent rage. In short, he's completely outgunned and to be pitied for his obvious lack of manliness.

by Michael Boh said...

Notice: The latest comment was deleted by the moderator since it broke a rule of this blog. Posting articles is not blogging, so write it in your own words or don't bother.

Anonymous said...

Influence can be defined as the power exerted over the minds and behavior of others. A power that can affect, persuade and cause changes to someone or something. In order to influence people, you first need to discover what is already influencing them. What makes them tick? What do they care about? We need some leverage to work with when we’re trying to change how people think and behave.