Taking Back the Country: Beware the "Spirit of Party"
August 26, 2008
Our Olympic host, the “People’s Republic,” had its game face on: looking dignified, tolerant, civil. But underneath the plastic smiles, memories of Tiananmen Square still linger. The math that day was ugly. According to the “People’s” government, 241 Chinese were massacred on June 4, 1989. Independent sources claim it was thousands.
The tanks that terrorized Beijing’s streets 19 years ago were neatly tucked away during the 2008 Summer Games. Out of sight. Out of mind. But the “cleanup” did not stop there: Taxis were banned, dogs removed from restaurant menus, industry halted to control pollution (so athletes could breathe). Whispers of human rights violations did not stop China from looking good on camera.
It’s the whispers that give me pause.
Old Glory was raised 36 times in the very city where Chinese independence died, where so many voices were silenced, where hush-hush communist atrocities still occur. Behind closed doors whispers penetrate the fog ” about Tiananmen Square, about human rights, about how Olympic gold pales in comparison to freedoms granted under the red, white and blue.
During the games of the XXIX Olympiad, across the Pacific, that flag, that anthem and those athletes did something else that no modern-day politician can do. They united the American people.
But it’s over now. Time to take off the gloves and go for the jugular. The Democratic and Republican National Conventions are upon us. Time to sling mud. Time to point fingers. Time for “party first” politics. Time to become the Divided States of America.
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During his 1796 Farewell Address, George Washington rebuked the “spirit of party,” saying:
“It agitates the community … kindles the animosity of one part against another … It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption. It (party politics) demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”
Sorry, George. No one listened.
With Beijing in the rear view mirror, Denver and Minneapolis are ready to slap George in the face again. Ready for candidates to roll up their sleeves and swing below the belt, to sweet talk swing voters, to kiss babies, to work the crowd, to pander to focus groups, to stoop ” if necessary ” and prove that the 44th U.S. President has what it takes to win.
The world will be watching.
Will it see the same resolve and conviction that led to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? How about another helping of Sept. 11th nationalism ” when we put country before party and put personal agendas aside? Will it see George Washington’s America … the UNITED States of America?
Not likely. Not until the next Olympics.
It’s us, George, not you. Our history books are ” for the most part ” strangely silent about your partisanship opposition, about how you ignored the press, made unpopular decisions, followed your conscience, not the “the party line.” Instead we read about how you chopped down cherry trees, refused to tell lies and led us into battle. Apparently, integrity doesn’t make for a good read.
“That America (the idealistic republic created by our founders) doesn’t exist anymore,” skeptics say with a sigh. “Today, it’s party, not country, first.”
Count me among the Americans who refuse to swallow that pill. We second Washington’s allegation: that party politics is a government’s “worst enemy,” that it jeopardizes “public liberty,” that it gives birth to attack ads, political posturing, name-calling, division, strife. After gagging on partisanship and countless “lesser of two evils” elections, we, too, like the Father of Our Country, reject the “spirit of party.”
Look yourself in the mirror this campaign season, America, then look into your children’s eyes. They deserve better. They deserve George Washington’s America. They deserve the America that was united for 17 glorious days in ” of all places ” Beijing, China.
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