Does American public deserve respect?
by Melvyn L. Fein
Columnist
October 22, 2012 12:00 AM | 890 views | 3 3 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
My recent book “Post-Liberalism: The Death of a Dream” begins with a familiar quote from Abraham Lincoln. You know the one I mean: “It is true you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

This is well to remember. So is Benjamin Franklin’s response when asked if the constitution would deliver a republic or a monarchy. He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

If we put these two observations together, the question becomes: Can we, the American people, preserve our democratic republic if too many of us are easily fooled? This is not an academic matter. In fact, the issue will shortly be tested in a national election with epic implications.

One thing is certain. No people can resist the blandishments of demagogues if they do not first respect themselves. If they do not believe they deserve the truth — if they are not scandalized when denied it — they are destined to join the ranks of those who can be fooled all of the time.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden are apparently convinced they can keep up a pretense of being concerned citizens until Election Day. Yet they have clearly demonstrated they do not respect the intellect, or integrity, of the American people. So far as they are concerned, voters are the “suckers” P.T. Barnum said are born every minute.

Biden plainly revealed this lack of respect during his debate with Paul Ryan. Most observers recognized the contempt the vice-president heaped upon his challenger. All of that smirking, laughing, and interrupting bespoke a disregard for the deference owed a United States congressman.

What was worse, however, was the contempt for the American public this exposed. Ryan was treated like a recalcitrant schoolboy, whereas Biden acted like a bad-mannered teenager. His lack of decency was an insult to his position and to an audience that had a right to expect civility from the second-highest elected official in the land.

Sadly, president Obama learned little from this outrageous exhibition. Indeed, he decided to emulate it. Rather than respect his opponent or the public, he, in his second debate, engaged in a self-described “aggressiveness.” This too consisted in interrupting and calling his opponent a liar.

The lying, however, was one-sided — that is, on the president’s. Where Biden falsely claimed that the Catholic Church would not be forced to finance services that violated its faith and dishonestly maintained he was in the room when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill negotiated a social security accord, Obama broadcast his own deceits.

Despite rudely — and incorrectly — questioning Romney’s veracity, Barack told a string of whoppers. He, for instance, falsely denied that he had reduced the number of oil drilling licenses his administration issued. More importantly, he blatantly dissembled when he asserted that he had called the murder of an American ambassador an act of terror the day after it occurred.

The moderator Candy Crowley doubled down on this nonsense, but does anyone else believe it? The problem is that some do. True-believing liberals see only what they want to see; hence they are blind to inconvenient facts. Meanwhile, disengaged voters are not even paying attention; hence they have no idea about what is true.

We, as a society, are about undergo a trial by fire. It will soon be evident how many of us are prepared to be bamboozled. If too large a number decide to re-elect the president, we will be in for four more years of dishonesty and corruption. If not, we may re-discover what integrity looks like.

What happens depends on whether we respect the truth and ourselves — and our republic. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, all that is needed for dishonesty and demagoguery to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is a professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments
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Off Balance
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October 24, 2012
Melvyn,

No surprise! Foley challenged you.He argues that liberals have been on the "right" side of so many issues. We all know they are on the "left" side.

Anyone who runs a household can see that you cannot spend more than you earn, you cannot bring the neighbor's kids in and clothe and feed them without having the revenue to do so. If you do so and you are unwise in managing the budget, someday, you will be old and will not have the means to sustain yourself.

Hucksters such as Obama and Biden will come out of the woodwork to prey on hard working folks. They will promise the lesser motivated in our society to stay less motivated as they will provide them with the wherewithal to enjoy life. This wherewithal will be taken from the industrious. It will all be done in the name of helping others. I had always been taught that God helps those who help themselves.
Ariana Boynton
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October 23, 2012
Look at the left (MSNBC) covering the debate last night with one of the prime players saying they are supporting and will be voting for Obama. Would you consider that fair and balanced reporting to brainwash the undereducated? And the left throws money at their voting base to buy their support since they do not have any ideas that work , except to spend my tax money on their crony friends and line their own pockets.

And I agree with Mitt on one thing, screaming personal attacks may seem like agressivness, but when you have no results to tout, what other options do you have except to try to deflect attention from yourself? Obama needs to go, please get out there and make sure that happens on election day.
Kevin Foley
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October 22, 2012
So we progressives are being "bamboozled"...yet we've been on the right side of so many issues over the years, from civil rights to womens rights to supporting tenure for professors at state-run universities.

Fein talks about dishonesty, but conservativism is perhaps the most dishonest political philosophy ever conceived, one that can survive only through deception and lies, something that's been hard to miss throughout the GOP campaign.

Fein talks about respect. Really? Take a look at the far right media and see how progressives are respected.
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