I find it puzzling that I consistently see the same wrongheaded argument being presented to me by my Democrat friends in their desperate efforts to excuse the excesses of the Obama administration. I’ll bring up something like massive troop deployments in Afghanistan and Pakistan or unprecedented deficit spending and corporate bailouts, and their rote reply seems to be that I can’t criticize Obama because of all the terrible things that Bush did. Further, because I’m a Republican I must be complicit in whatever crimes Bush committed and therefore am disqualified from questioning or criticizing Obama.
What they seem to miss here is that if the things Bush did were wrong, then aren’t the same things still equally wrong when they are done by Obama? Aren’t they even more wrong when they are done by Obama on a larger scale? Bush overspent and created deficits. Obama has already doubled his spending in a few months. Bush deployed hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our interests are at best debatable. Obama has done the same and is talking about a deployment more than double the size of Bush’s biggest commitment to the region. I defy any Obama supporter to identify a qualitative difference between the excess spending and troop deployment of the Obama administration and that of his predecessor. There is certainly a quantitative difference. Obama has dramatically spent more money and put more lives at risk for less reason. If I’m disqualified from criticizing Obama because of Bush, then why aren’t Democrats disqualified from criticizing Bush because Obama has done the exact same things and worse?
Their second error is the repeated assumption that because I bear the “Republican” brand I must have supported every Republican and every act of a Republican going back to my infancy. Apparently I have to shoulder the blame for everything both Bushes did wrong and presumably for the sins of Reagan, Ford and Nixon as well. Never mind that I actively protested Nixon’s administration, wrote scores of articles critical of Bush and his policies during the last 8 years, and voted Libertarian in every presidential election since 1980. Does this mean that conversely they are going to accept responsibility for the Carter’s loss of the Panama Canal, the Drug War, Vietnam and Jim Crow laws? Somehow I doubt it.
Their belief that all Republicans are the same ought to be embarrassing, if they had any sense of shame. Their victory in the last election gives Democrats a certain level of arrogance and a tendency to gloat which is truly unappealing and apparently makes them immune to any obligation to think with any subtlety about political issues. They just can’t grasp that Republicans are a diverse group. They assume that we’re all warmongering, Bible-thumping reactionaries who are apparently on the verge of becoming domestic terrorists — or so Obama’s Department of Homeland Security seems to believe. My actual beliefs seem to matter nothing to them — as a Republican I can’t possibly be pro-choice, non-religious and generally opposed to unnecessary wars. They would certainly never believe that I know thousands of other Republicans who are politically active, share those views and were critical of Bush over these and many other issues.
You would think that some simple self-examination would enlighten them. Lyndon LaRouche, the Unabomber and Louis Farrakhan are or have been active members of the Democratic party and remain largely on the political left. Does that mean that all Democrats share their views? There are even large factions within the political left and the Democratic party which don’t agree with each other. Most of the Democrats I know aren’t outright socialists or communists, but those philosophies thrive within the progressive wing of the party. Nativism and strong anti-immigrant beliefs are common among union Democrats, but many other Democrats remain liberal on the immigration issue. If their party isn’t homogeneous, why do they assume that all Republicans are the same?
This idea that the sins of one administration or political faction do not excuse the abuses of another also extends to foreign policy and seems to confuse the left in that area as well. When dealing with the issue of Iran, they always seem to fall back on blaming the United States because we put the Shah in power. Apparently we have to excuse the sins of the current regime because of the wrongs done by the Shah. Never mind that they killed more political dissidents in their first two years in power than the Shah killed in 17 years and have done more to limit freedoms for the general population, and especially for women, than the Shah ever did. It’s the same with Israel. Because Israel is militarily aggressive and inhumane, it excuses every action of violent excess from the terrorist groups and equally aggressive and inhumane neighbors like Syria and Iran. Somehow Arab violence doesn’t count because Israelis deserve it.
What they seem not to grasp is that wrong is wrong and right is right, regardless of the political persuasion of the perpetrator and regardless of the actions of others. You can’t pick and choose between murderers and madmen and say that the crimes of one are excused because of the crimes of another. You can’t excuse the policies of someone you voted for and criticize someone you opposed for policies which are exactly the same. While there may be different standards of what is right and wrong, whatever standards you choose to accept have to be applied uniformly. If you don’t follow that rule and instead live by a subjective double standard which applies one set of rules to those you like and another to those you dislike, then you should expect rational people to brand you as a hypocrite and dismiss your political opinions.
So please, the next time I criticize Obama or your favorite terrorists or Hugo Chavez, please keep in mind that the things they do should be judged on their own flaws and merits. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and nothing done by someone else excuses or justifies them.