Does our country need to go to couple's therapy?

01/21/13 19:59:00    

By Michael Mealling

During today's innauguration speach President Obama seemed to make an attempt at bridging the gaping divide in the country:

Together we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers. Together we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all societies ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

But as the speech continued it became obvious this was simply a rhetorical version of “I have friends who are Republicans”, a rhetorical fig leaf that barely covered the progressive laundry list that came afterward. But don't take my word for it, apparently the London Telegraph, the New York Times, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post agree.

The London Telegraph article summed it up like this:

It was billed as Barack Obama's 'Martin Luther King moment', when America's
first black president would outline his own dream for a more united America,
but all along the length of Washington's great Mall, it was apparent that
only half of the nation had showed up to listen to his call.
Overwhelmingly, the crowd of 800,000 people was filled with the faces of the
young, female, urban, African-American coalition that ensured Mr Obama's
re-election for a second term last November. They were Obama's people, and
they were there to celebrate their victory.
After being sworn in on the bibles of his political heroes Abraham Lincoln
and Dr King – without any fumbling of the oath of office as happened in 2009
– Mr Obama acknowledged the “uncertain future” faced by America and asked
his “fellow Americans” to unite in facing its challenges.
And yet Mr Obama's prescription was an uncompromising and urgent statement
of the liberal agenda that leaves Conservative forces – predominantly white,
rural and evangelically Christian – seething with anger and alienation.
On gay marriage and gun control, on immigration and inequality, on the global
issues of war and climate change, Mr Obama unapologetically reiterated his
commitment to his own brand of social and economic inclusiveness.
He quoted the Declaration of Independence – a document, ironically often used
by the Tea Party and Republicans – but made very different deductions from
its premises than those heard from the American Right.

We are a divided country. But its not over who is in power. Its over the very fundamental relationship between an individual and the state, and in many cases between each other. There is a strong case to be made that these differences are irreconcilable. And when things get that bad its time to bring in a professional. Someone who can help both sides win. But today's speech is not the speech of a professional councelor. Its the speech of a spouse complaining that the only thing standing between them and happiness is their partner. Its a speech filled with catastrophizing, demagoguery, and ultimatums.

So either we find a really good counselor or just throw in the towel and file the divorce papers.

I'm not optimistic.

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