Despite the shouting and name-calling, our politicians and pundits earnestly want what’s best for the country; they merely have different ideas about how to achieve it. When President Obama’s fiercest opponents endlessly criticize him and obstruct his agenda, they’re doing it because they genuinely believe that his policies will make the country worse off, not out of petty desire for short-term political gain (or to protect powerful interests). If he had ideas they agreed with, they would support him. Right?
Let’s test that assumption by looking at an issue that’s not ideological at all: the Olympics. Unlike health care, where you can make a legitimate case that there are better and worse ways of improving the nation’s health (and whether that is even a legitimate outcome for government to pursue), the Olympics are unambiguous in terms of the desirability of the outcome and the means of achieving it. That is, we all agree that bringing the Olympics to Chicago would be a good thing for the country, and there is no debate over the means for doing that – you either bring them here or you don’t.
So how did Republican activists react to the news that our country had lost its bid to host the 2016 Olympics? See for yourself (the clip is from the conservative Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit):
I mean, wow. A room full of Americans absolutely giddy that
We’ve thus come full circle since Rush Limbaugh’s infamous quip that he “hopes Obama fails”:
This isn’t the first time conservatives have called for their followers to inflict damage on the country out of spite for President Obama. Conservative radio hosts have, for instance, advocated a boycott of General Motors to ensure the company fails, knowing that a successful emergence from bankruptcy would be a victory for Obama (and more importantly, vindication of a greater role for government in the economy). Glenn Beck says that because Obama supports AmeriCorps, it must be a secret Nazi army. Michele Bachmann warns that the Census has been infiltrated by ACORN.
The smug giddiness over losing the Olympics only confirms the larger trend, showing just how fanatical opposition to Obama has become; for the most conservative of Republicans, it’s no longer principled opposition to specific policies – it’s a hope that the country itself will fail in order to vindicate conservative ideology. What scares die-hards the most isn’t that progressive policies will fail – it’s that they will succeed. Because that would prove liberalism correct after all.
Hence campaigns to destroy General Motors, to keep affordable health care out of the hands of millions of Americans, and even to oppose bringing the Olympics to the
And congratulations to
*Note* Does anyone have video editing skills? It’d be great to create a mash-up of the Rush Limbaugh clip and the one of the people cheering over the Olympic decision. Leave a comment with contact info if you know how to do that.