“Don’ worry, be happy” was the refrain of a popular song some years ago. My Examiner column about coping with an Obama presidency modifies that advice.
Almost by definition, Barack Obama’s election meets with the approval of a majority of American adults. Many are wildly enthusiastic about the prospect of an Obama presidency. More probably reside somewhere between cautiously optimistic and indifferent.
But this column is addressed to politically active conservatives who fear the worst and are now wondering how to cope. The key, as always, is to maintain one’s equilibrium. To this end, I offer, unsolicited, the following suggestions:
Pray that President Obama achieves greatness in office. Our overriding concern must always be the country we love, not the success of a party or an ideology.
Don’t assume that Obama is always wrong. Judge all of his positions on the merits; don’t conclude that a position is wrong just because he takes it. Republicans tended to fall into this trap with President Clinton. For example, some opposed our military involvement in Kosovo based not on an analysis of the situation there, but rather on a knee-jerk anti-Clinton response. This approach is irresponsible and unpatriotic.
Conservatives almost certainly will quickly find that, from our perspective, Obama is wrong far more often than he is right. To that extent, it will be our duty to oppose him. But in doing so, we should keep in mind these guidelines:
Be loyal in your opposition. As my blog partner Scott Johnson puts it, paraphrasing Steven Decatur: “May he always be in the right; but our president, right or wrong.”
Be patient in your opposition. Don’t mimic the left (this is always good advice) and conclude that because the country isn’t getting mad about policies that bother you, Obama is therefore a “Teflon president.” In fact, you should stop reading the first 10 pundits who call him that. Americans are fair-minded. They will give Obama time to succeed, as they should. The mainstream media will buy him additional time. But eventually the honeymoon will end.
Be persistent in your opposition. The first 100 things that you criticize Obama for may not resonate at all. The 101st may turn public opinion against him. More likely, it may supply the mass that begins to turn the tide.
Be fair in your opposition. None of the 101 things that you criticize Obama for should be illegitimate or trivial. Remember that the president isn’t responsible for every adverse development that occurs on his watch. Even sound decisions often produce adverse consequences. Don’t judge Obama’s decisions in a vacuum; compare them to the alternatives.
Be skeptical in your opposition. Obama’s campaign was fueled by a broken promise that he would finance it through public funding. Obama also dissembled when he minimized his relationship with William Ayers by characterizing Ayers as someone who just lives in his neighborhood. In fact, the two had collaborated several times, including on a radical, unsuccessful educational initiative. And Obama almost certainly dissembled when he disavowed knowledge of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s views about America despite having listened to Wright preach for almost 20 years. Under these circumstances, it would be foolish to view Obama’s pronouncements with anything other than skepticism.
But the skepticism should run both ways, extending to attacks on Obama as well. The temptation to invent or misrepresent facts for political gain, or just out of sheer spite, is a bi-partisan phenomenon.
We don’t know how the Obama presidency will turn out, but we have complete information about certain key institutions that ran interference for him. Here are some suggestions on how to respond to them:
“Secede” from the mainstream media. After Republican victories, some leftists like to talk about moving to Canada or somehow “seceding” from the U.S. Such talk, and that’s all it is, is unpatriotic and should be avoided. However, “seceding” from the mainstream media (MSM) is another matter.
Independent media watchdog groups, and even some members of the liberal MSM, have confirmed what was obvious throughout the campaign: coverage of Obama was vastly more favorable than coverage of McCain.
Which angered you more, the New York Times story suggesting, quite baselessly, that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, or its gossipy hit piece on Cindy McCain late in the campaign? What was your reaction when a Washington Post fact-checker challenged the accuracy of a McCain campaign advertisement that relied on the self-same Washington Post as its source?
If your newspaper’s campaign coverage consistently infuriated you, why not cancel your subscription? If a network’s news programming, or that of a public broadcasting station, struck you as unabashed cheerleading, why not stop viewing its broadcasts permanently?
Seceding from the MSM doesn’t mean no longer accessing the information it provides. The goal here isn’t to exist in a conservative echo chamber; the goal is to withdraw financial support from our political adversaries. The MSM’s content generally is available for free online.
Support fledgling conservative institutions. The left has “marched through our institutions” – including the MSM, Hollywood, the public schools, academia, and even large swaths of corporate America. Conservatives need to respond by developing alternative sources of information, entertainment, and education. These alternatives won’t succeed unless we support them.
My final tips are the most personal ones, and therefore the most important:
Don’t hate. I don’t assume that the Obama administration will turn out to be hateful. But even if it does, hating isn’t good for you. And for conservatives, it’s counter-productive.
Don’t obsess. Spend as much time as you see fit following, discussing, and participating in public affairs. But don’t think about them the rest of the time. Life is full of beauty and wonder. Don’t let politics blind you to it. Life is full of opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment. Don’t let politics distract you from them.
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