Fiery Obama“The character of our country.”  With those words the final line on the health care debate was drawn in the sand by President Barack Obama at a raucous, campaign-style rally on the Friday before history would be decided.  
 
After over a year of heated debate, after over a year of enduring every dirty trick in the book thrown his way by a desperate opposition trying to frame health care reform as a vehicle to socialism, bankruptcy, or worse, Barack Obama rekindled the fire that launched him to the highest office in the land and captivated the entire globe in the process.  Yes, the Barack Obama that made millions of disillusioned Americans stand up and believe in “Yes We Can” again was back, front and center!
 
For a man with a slight frame and narrow shoulders, he proved without a doubt that what you see can be quite deceiving. On this day he heaved the Democratic party, and a nation spiraling to disaster, right up onto his back and proved that his sinewy limbs may very well be able to tote the load right across the finish line to a victory of historic proportions.
 
The character of our country, that is what is being decided Sunday for the world to see.  I’m reminded of a powerful scene in the movie A Few Good Men.  Two Marines were on trial for following a “Code Red” hazing order from a superior officer that left one of their fellow, weaker Marines dead.  When all was said and done and it was proven that the two were following a direct order, a basic principle they were trained to adhere to without hesitation or question, they were still charged with conduct unbecoming and discharged from their service.  Baffled, one of the Marines turned to the other and asked why they were still being discharged, it had just been proven that they were simply following orders, just as they were supposed to.  The other Marine thought about it and said, “we didn’t do what a Marine is supposed to do, we didn’t stand up for the little guy.” 
 
That is, and always must be, the character of our nation.  That is the code our selfless men and women in uniform embody.  That is the code of our American character, the character that leads us to fight tyranny and oppression wherever it is found, be it on our own home soil or far away lands.  That is the character of our American ideals and it is what makes us the beacon of hope the world turns to for guidance and support in trying times and the example by deed we hope they will follow.  That is the character that every legislator granted the privilege to carry our voice to the halls of power must always strive to adhere to.
 
The opposition to health care reform is a formidable force.  They use their constitutional right of free speech to give an amplified voice to despicable vermin like Rush Limbaugh, a man so pitiful he used his pulpit to denigrate an eleven year old boy that chose to take up the banner of his now-dead-mother and carry her voice to the battle at hand. 
 
Or another blight on humanity like Glenn Beck, a disgusting man that uses his soap box to preach the same kind of wretched fundamentalism that culminated in four ghastly fireballs exploding into our collective consciousness on September 11th 2001.  What noble purpose can he possibly hope to serve by waving around the swastika of Nazism, or the hammer and sickle of Communism, symbols that still instill nothing more than fear and hatred? What kind of person uses the imagery of tyranny and oppression as the tools of progress other than those our collective American character has always chosen to fight against, and defeated, time and time again?
 
That is not the imagery we need to paint, it does not speak to our character and it certainly doesn’t speak to the very real suffering that millions of hard working American families are enduring each and every day, with their legions growing by the minute .  If you want imagery to encapsulate the true magnitude of the choice before us, imagine the coffins of those that could have been saved, imagine their grieving families putting those coffins in the ground, torn apart by the anguish of losing a loved one. Imagine the family that’s living in their car because they chose to save their child instead of keeping their home. Now imagine if it was your own family bearing that cross. Now that would be more appropriate imagery.
 
So today I ask every legislator with our future in their hands to ask themselves the real underlying question and look past the theatrics and chicanery meant to befuddle and confuse, to look past the flawed logic that is being trumpeted from the mountaintops to cause paralyzing fear.  I ask them and every American to look at this vote and choose if they are willing to strengthen the character of our great land, or unravel it.  I ask every legislator not to look at the future though the lens of their own career, but through the lens of little guy that needs their help.  I ask them to show the strength and courage it takes to fight for what’s right, and the fortitude and resolve to see it through to the finish.
 
The character of our county is at stake right now. There are not many alive today that were around when this fight started.  Will our children and theirs perish before we show the true colors of our character and do what’s right?  Or will we help our President tote this mighty load across the finish line as early as tomorrow and start a new chapter in the history books?
 
Yes, the character of our country, that is the question at hand.

14 Responses to “A Test of Character”

  • Tom:

    nice site Aris.

  • Marlene:

    Great site, great article. . . you do wonderful work!
    I read your posts all the time.

  • CARLOS:

    great article thanks for reminding us whats important for our country !!!!!!!!!

  • Connie:

    I always read everything you write about. You are always on point and your analogies on just about any topic are simply the best!

  • Dr. Vigilance:

    Incandescent, eloquent and powerful prose, Aris! An ardent patriot speaks his mind! Your devoted readers would do a great public service by distributing your posts far and wide.
    Carlos writes (March 20, 2010 at 5:21 PM) “Great article, thanks for reminding us of what’s important for our country!” And you, Aris, ask our legislators to “show the strength and courage it takes to fight for what’s right, and the fortitude and resolve to see it through to the finish.” But some loud and impassioned American dissenters proclaim otherwise. The Honorable Congressman Boehner worries dramatically that in less than twenty-four hours America will be visited by Armageddon (!)”. Most promislng of all, Rush Limbaugh actually threatens to leave this country if the Health Care Reform Bill passes.
    However, we shall all see today that a prescient Bill Clinton understood our beloved country best when he said: ““There is nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed with what is right with America!”

  • Or another blight on humanity like Glenn Beck, a disgusting man that uses his soap box to preach the same kind of wretched fundamentalism that culminated in three ghastly fireballs exploding into our collective consciousness on September 11th 2001.

    I counted four ghastly fireballs on 9/11.

    I don’t watch Beck that often, but I’ve never heard the “disgusting man” advocate violence, so I’m not sure I understand what kind of “same kind” of fundamentalism you’re talking about.

    Besides, you’re just as tough on those whose points of view you despise as Beck and Limbaugh are on their ideological nemeses. They’re doing exactly the same thing as you’re doing. What’s the difference?

    Hatred is hatred, no matter how eloquently presented. The left wing nuts hate the right wing nuts, and the right wing nuts hate the left wing nuts. It’s been like that ever since the Continental Congress, and probably long before that.

  • Aris:

    Thank you Peter G for brining my error to my attention, duly noted and corrected.

    I read my article again, and I simply couldn’t find where I said he advocated violence anywhere in my story. I said he was preaching the same kind of wretched fundamentalism that led to those “four” ghastly fireballs. When you invoke the swastika to make a point against social justice, against an honest effort to ease suffering, it is nothing more than an instrument of fear and that is preaching hatred in my opinion. Look at the acts of vandalism, look at the threats against lives and families that have occurred since HCR was signed into law. That is what I’m talking about, and if you don’t believe that kind of treacherous agenda is partly propelled by the likes of FOX news, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, then you are more than entitled to your opinion, but mine differs, and it differs strongly.

    But I will tell you this, you did make me think about my purpose here on another comment you made on one of my posts, and I went ahead and changed my “mission statement” because of it. The events that I watched unfold these last few months have made me realize that it is a fool’s errand to try to unite everyone. There are some I will simply never reach. But I can assure you, I believe in my heart and my soul that what I’m trying to do is right and I will do my very best to bring those of like mind together to make a stand. If that makes me an enemy of some individuals out there with a much mightier megaphone than mine, so be it, I will happily do my best to be their foil.

    I do think you are confusing anger with hatred though. When you see me call for people to leave their church because of something I believe, or you see me put the home addresses and phone numbers of people I disagree with online to put them in harms way, then you can talk to me about preaching hatred. But I will not be silenced when I choose to express my own anger about things I see develop.

  • The people responsible for the fireballs openly advocate violence. Death to America.

    Beck, like Keith Olberman, love to compare their ideological opposition to fascism, but they don’t ask their audience to go out and kill people.

    Whether you call your own passion “anger” or “hatred” is besided the point. But like Beck and Limbaugh, you seem to belive that those you vehemently disagree with would destroy this country if they became too powerful. Your message is clear: These people, i.e., the right, must be stopped.

    Ergo, some deranged individual, perhaps inspired by you and others on your team, may go out and shoot Sarah Palin in an attempt to save the United States. Will you feel partially responsible for that?

    Ann Coulter and the Minute Men got physically attacked, too. Once passion runs wild, be it on the left or the right, a few sick morons will resort to violence. We’ve had left-wing crazies planting bombs, too.

    To me, an angry rant is an angry rant, whether launched into by Aris or by Rush Limbaugh. Either way, the message is that we must defeat “them” or the country will go to the dogs. If you portray your opposition as rotten enough, as you certainly do, whether from anger or hatred, you can’t always control the manner in which your adherents choose to “help” your cause.

  • Aris:

    Peter G, here’s the difference. If I was warned that I may be inciting violent tendencies, I would spend my next articles addressing the idiocy in that. I wouldn’t continue down the same road while slamming the accelerator to the floor. Take a look at the next story I wrote after this one, To Boldly go…, I say in there that aiming a weapon at another citized over political idealism is not tyrant-hunting, it’s TREASON.

    We don’t live in a world without crazies, some aren’t even crazy, just excruciatingly desperate, on both sides of the aisle. The best we can hope to do is speak out to the best of our ability and hope to influence a positive outcome and embrace our best qualities.

    You seem to speak of a world that has no right or wrong, but it does, and it must. We all walk in the gray zone between those two worlds, deciding with every action which way we will tip the scale. If we tip the scale to far to the wrong, it is a path to oblivion. Why? Because if everyone always did the wrong thing, none of us would be here anymore, simple. But if we strive to tip it the other way, it would be a path to utopia. But unfortunately, the flaws each of us have will always prevent that destination from being reached. But, it doesn’t mean we should ever stop reaching for it. Most of us can tell the difference between right and wrong, we can tell the difference between negative and positive.

    Selling fear of Nazism as a foil to social justice? Wrong in my book, and I challenge you to find where I ever mention a collapse of society in any of my posts, with the exception of United Destiny, because that was the lynchpin of the story. But even in that one, my belief in the human spirit doesn’t allow for that possibility.

    Belittling an 11 year old boy that lost his mother to illness on a nationally syndicated show? Also wrong in my book, and I challenge you to find an instance where I have ever done even remotely the same. Everyone I ever target with my opinion is more than capable of defending themselves, I wouldn’t shrink from it, I would truly welcome it, I would like them to explain themselves to me and see if they can hold their water.

    And I advise you to watch you back, a world without right or wrong? My grandmother will be hunting you down for even suggesting such a thing ;) Geez, there I go again with the inciting and the fear!

  • There’s plenty right and wrong in the world I live in. Trust me on that. It’s just that my notions of right and wrong do not happen to line up with either liberal or conservative philosophy.

    Selling fear of Nazism as a foil to social justice? How about selling fear of everything Republican/conservative? (“They’re the enemy! Fox News is the enemy!”) It’s fear-mongering either way.

    You don’t mention a collapse of society in your posts, but you obviously believe that if conservatives became to powerful, this country would be a horrible, horrible place to live in. Same difference.

    Nothing wrong with expressing strong points of view, of course. It’s just a matter of rhetoric. If I go to Michelle Malkin’s blog, I know I’ll get wall-to-wall liberal-bashing. If I go to your blog, I know I’ll get wall-to-wall conservative-bashing. If you spent all the time you’re wasting on trashing those you despise on outlining your own vision and making a cogent arguments as to why your points are better, that would be a whole different story.

    You can never sway the hardcore opposition. Whom you can potentially sway are independents and fence-sitters, but you seem to make no attempt to get even those into your fold. You’re a great writer, but strip away the eloquence, and what remains is pure anti-conservative hate speech, calling others “blights on humanity” and “disgusting” people. So I read a few lines, go “Ah, Aris hates conservatives,” and then I doze off. Then I listen to Rush Limbaugh for a few minutes, go “Ah, Mr. Limbaugh hates liberals,” and then I’m done over there, too.

    You can object to other people’s points of view all day long, show why they’re wrong, and present your own views. That’s wonderful. That’s what we’re supposed to do. But if you think that calling those you don’t like “blights on humanity” will accomplish anything other than make you come across as a lopsided hater, you must be living in la-la land.

    Remember, there’s no need to convince those who are already on your side. That’s why I don’t really understand folks like Malkin, Limbaugh, and yourself. You’re just preaching to the choir 24/7 and in the process you turn away all independently minded people who otherwise may listen to one or the other valid point of view any of you may have.

  • Aris:

    Well, grab a cup of coffee and … wake up Pete!, maybe you’re just not reading far enough ;)

    I’ve had plenty of positive feedback from the center lane, independents and centrists from both parties. The fight I’ve been having was not a fight against Republicans, it was a fight FOR Health Care Reform and against the dirty tactics that were deployed to derail it, it’s about what I see happening now in the aftermath, intentional partisan lockjaw that is serving nothing but obstructing ANY kind of progress, so my colors were chosen for me.

    I voted for Barack Obama, I voted for him because I believed in the ideas he campaigned on, I still do, they make sense to me. Since he’s been in office he’s shown me class and reason, he’s shown me logic, courage and strength, and I find him pretty wicked smart too, so I have not been disappointed with my choice. I also know first hand that he has almost single handedly revived our international reputation that almost flat lined during the Bush years and I grasp the importance of that. (I served our country under a Republican Commander-in-Chief by the way, and never uttered a peep of dissent)

    What I saw happen in America during that historic election inspired me to speak out. Barack Obama preached to the same choir I do, but it turns out, if you can get the choir to sing a catchy enough tune with a strong, steady beat, more people may just jump in and sing along.

    It seems we won’t see eye-to-eye on this go ’round, but I hope you’ll stick around. I’ve got other, more non-partisan fish to fry in the future, Global Warming, the obesity epidemic, the threat to our global water & food supply and the dangers that await on those fronts, among a long list of others. Some of my fights will be right in tune with a partisan choir, some won’t. It’s not my fault this health care debate dragged on forever, but it was the battle at hand.

    But, I still think Limbaugh, Beck, FoX, and Palin are waaay off base and I won’t mince words expressing my thoughts, I’ll continue to call it like I see it. In the end, I think more will be singing along with me through the power of their vote., but, … only time will tell.

    So far my batting average has been pretty good though. ;) Thanks for the exchange, I enjoyed it.

  • If you can get the choir to sing a catchy enough tune with a strong, steady beat, more people may just jump in and sing along, but if you start to refer to people as disgusting blights on humanity, you’re gonna lose as many as you win.

    Remember, you can’t make people agree with you, but you can drive away potential allies.

    Lindsay Graham (however you spell his name), Republican Congressman, was on Meet the Press on Sunday. He referred to Obama as a great guy, a patriot, and a man who wanted the best for his country, but who also happened to be dead wrong on the health care bill, and then he launched into a discussion on what he thought was wrong with the bill, in his opinion.

    That’s the kind of tone that impresses me, irrespective of whether or not I agree with anything the person says.

    On the other hand, apparently some left-wing nut has just been arrested for threatening to kill Eric Cantor.

    Everything happens on BOTH sides of the aisle, the good AND the bad.

    Dirty tactics were deployed to derail health care reform, just as dirty tactics were deployed to pass it. No different from what happened during the ratification of the Constitution. Politics is a dirty business, and it always has been.

    And I don’t drink coffee. I’m a water person.

  • Aris:

    Imagine that, we see eye-to-eye on something. I’ve had two cups of coffee in my life and didn’t like either one, so I too am a water guy ;)

    If my tune seems off-key to you, so be it. That’s the beauty of democracy, everyone is free to choose the choir they sing along with, or they can simply choose to walk on by. Hopefully, on their travels, someone else will have better luck connecting with them on some other level and they will find the place where they fit in. I respect whatever choice they make.

    And before you spin Leboon as a left-wing-nut-job, you should also know that he threatened Obama, Pelosi, Reid and his security council before he threatened Cantor, among others. He also threatened Hollywood over the pig character Babe! So let’s not throw him on anyone’s team, shall we? Just plain ol’ nut-job will suffice.

    What I do sense though, is that you are airborne, diligently trying to find a landing strip that will accommodate your aircraft. My guess is that you are torn between the only two runways that are lit, though neither would be your first choice. One has an excellent duty free shop and exquisite creature comforts, and the other has sandwich vending machines, but much better emergency and maintenance services.

    It’s a dilemma that is only getting compounded by the fact that you have been flying around so long, the fuel light has turned on.

    Now, you can always choose to bypass both runways and hope that a third, one with great services AND all the amenities, soon reveals itself in the dark, but that pesky fuel light has got you a little worried.

    Personally, I chose to eat sandwiches and have confidence that my aircraft will stay serviced and flight-worthy, and in the event something terrible were to happen and my instruments went out, I want a control tower that will be there to guide me to a safe landing so I live to fly another day.

    Every big and important piece of reformative legislation in our country has started out as a mess. But slowly things get fixed, common sense tends to steer well if it spots a mountain in the way. But failure to even start the journey only guarantees one thing, you’ll be caught on the ground staring at the sky wondering what might have been.

    But you’ve at least taken the chance and started the journey. Here’s to hoping you find a suitable place to land before you hit empty.

    Peter G, you’re the captain of your craft, the choice is certainly yours. Good luck!

  • I’ll be more than happy to spin this Leboon character as a plain ol’ nut job.

    I had not been aware I was looking for a landing strip. I grew up in a quasi-socialist cradle-to-grave entitlement country. If the health care thing works out here in the U.S., fine with me.

    I just think that legitimate arguments can be made on both sides. The personal attack approach distracts from the subject matter at hand, because instead of focusing on the issues, I start wondering about the messenger.

    Just as I seem airborne to you, you strike me as someone who needs a family, a tribe to belong to, and the most popular way to do this, of course, is to define and then fight a common enemy.

    Yep, we’re all hobby psychoanalysts.

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