Tags: obama | disunity | conservatives | trump | election

Obama Attacked Conservatives, Voters Chose Trump to Fight Back

Obama Attacked Conservatives, Voters Chose Trump to Fight Back
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Monday, 23 October 2017 12:00 PM Current | Bio | Archive

During his term as 44th Chief Executive, President Obama:
  • Pressed the Affordable Care Act, the most divisive legislation in modern times;
  • Pressured public schools to admit transgender kids to the locker room of their choice, not leaving this divisive issue to local districts to resolve;
  • Weighed in on racial issues as microscopic as an aged NBA owners vulgar phone call to his young girlfriend;
  • Illuminated the White House in rainbow lights after the Obergefell decision, a gratuitous gesture that told social and religious conservatives that night, “Eat dirt!”;
  • and hired fierce identity politicians such as Thomas Perez, who make a specialty of demonizing the other side.

Those of us who felt the sting of President Obama’s adversarial approach to national matters accepted it as hardball gamesmanship. "Why don’t we have any Republicans who can play it so well?" we wondered.

But when President Obama proceeded to decry divisiveness and partisanship in the United States, as he frequently did during his time in office and did once again last week at a rally in Newark, it was too much. Conservatives have learned to accept that they will always have political opponents, and that their beliefs automatically put them in a competitive situation. The overwhelming dominance of liberalism in the culture zones — the schools, the art world, Hollywood . . . — convinced them long ago that ordinary things they take for granted, such as attending church, are treated by others as wholly political and even aggressive.

Liberals, on the other hand, because they won the culture wars from the 1960s to the 1980s, have become spoiled. They believe that their triumphs are the rightful termination of political rivalry. President Obama echoed the point when, midway through his endorsement of New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, he reflected on the current fractious climate, our “politics of division,” and said, “I thought we put that to bed.”

The implication was clear. In former times, politicians pitted one group against another, often by racist appeals. From the Civil Rights Movement to the election and tenure of President Obama himself, we overcame that kind of bigoted factionalism. Liberal governance — the Obama Administration — delivered a unity that, finally, realized the American Dream for all. But now, in 2017, factionalism is back, and we’ve got to stop it. “We are rejecting a politics of division!” Obama declaimed in his conclusion.

The “we” he repeated again and again, as if he and his supporters were the unifiers, the divisiveness coming entirely from the Right. And he spoke so smoothly and reasonably, convincing everyone who agrees with him that they are, indeed, the responsible ones, the people who care about others and just want a decent, honest society. They are above politics. People of other faiths and positions, well, they’re not what we — that is, America — are all about.

It’s a hoax. The only way you can call this rhetoric not divisive is if you regard the people who dissent from liberal outlooks as no longer part of the body politic. We don’t belong here. A few years back, Governor Cuomo put it neatly when he said in a radio interview that “extreme conservatives . . . have no place in the state of New York.” He meant, among others, people who opposed same-sex marriage and who were pro-life. An unliberal belief doesn’t make you a political foe. It removes you from the public space entirely.

We saw the same thing when, after Indiana passed its religious freedom law, Governor Malloy of Connecticut banned all state-funded travel there and urged others, including the NCAA, to boycott the state. If you don’t go along with liberal policy, we shun you. You don’t exist.

President Obama’s genius was to give this illiberal attitude an ideal glow. He put all the charity and warmth on his side, the animus and narrowness on the other side. Liberals are about togetherness, conservatives about divisiveness. When voters backed Donald Trump, they seemed to confirm Obama’s accusations.

But that’s not what happened. Yes, Trump supporters turned to a fighter, but they did so because President Obama and other Democratic leaders had been playing a divide-and-conquer game with them for years, and they were sick of it.

Mark Bauerlein is Professor of English at Emory University and Senior Editor at First Things Magazine. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Yes, Trump supporters turned to a fighter, but they did so because President Obama and other Democratic leaders had been playing a divide-and-conquer game with them for years, and they were sick of it.
obama, disunity, conservatives, trump, election
Monday, 23 October 2017 12:00 PM
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