Leaning to the Left

Writing from a liberal persuasion

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Towards a New Partnership

Posted by Beau Winiger on April 19, 2009

President Obama’s recent meet and greet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez continues to usher in a new era in American relations with the rest of the world. When one takes the time to step back and look at the President’s recent well received tour of Europe, the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba, and now, with this most recent Summit of the Americas, it is hard not to see the immediate contrast between our current President and his predecessor. Could more be done in Cuba? Of course. Should we immediately trust President Chavez? Of course not. But President Obama has taken important first steps in showing the rest of the world that America is no longer the snobby rich kid next door that looks upon the rest of the world as inferiors who should only be tolerated, not listened to.
In the case of the recent announcement of the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba there is a clear example of the President charting a new course in American relations to Latin America. Since 1962 the American embargo has stood against Cuba, serving as a constant talking point for anti-American sentiment in Latin America. Although the embargo was started with definite purpose, it has long since ran its course. The embargo has remained in place seemingly without second thought to its relevance in today’s world. To believe in the idea of changing a dictatorial government from the outside through complementing the restriction of information and goods already put in place by the Cuban government shows little understanding of the way the world works. President Obama’s first step will allow a freer interchange of ideas between America, as well as a bolstered Cuban economy through the unlimited transfer of money from those living in the U.S. to family still in Cuba.  Hopefully these recent actions will lay the important groundwork for the long overdue end to the embargo.

The handshakes and small talk with President Chavez are also important in building a groundwork to better relations with Latin America.  For far too long the U.S. in Latin America has been seen as an imperial force bent on colonialism.  In some cases this has had the ring of truth, while in others it is simple propaganda used by Latin American governments to tighten their strangle hold on power.  But, as so often is the case in politics, it doesn’t always matter which instances are true and which are not.  The truth can lie almost exclusively in the perception.  The previous administration served to further these feelings of a colonial American power by treating Venezuala, and much of Latin America that went against the administration’s wishes, as unworthy of a dialogue.  Such treatment did not magically cause Chavez to lose power, but instead simply took the American voice out of the discussion.  These new overtures towards a respectful dialogue will hopefully take some of the wind out of the sails from Latin American politicians that hope to use American disrespect as a base point.

It is important to remember that handshakes and nicities between Chavez and Obama are only that, handshakes and niceties.  In the world of politics what really counts is action, and it will take much work from both Venezuela and America to prove that they are truly willing to work together as partners.  One can only hope that these first steps are not the last steps, and America can begin to foster a true partnership with her neighbors to the south.  It will be a long struggle, and their is much history on both sides that will need to be forgiven, but lasting change has never been brought about without small steps at the beginning.

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Posted in politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Problem Behind Tea Parties

Posted by Beau Winiger on April 16, 2009

Yesterday citizens all around this country gathered to protest at Tea Parties. The target of these protests ranged from taxation to government spending to state rights to socialism to Obama is Hitler. At first glance these protests might seem to be unworthy of serious cause for concern given the easily refuted nature of the protester’s causes. Taxes have gone down for most Americans, and the highest tax bracket is now taxed at a rate of 10% less than under Ronald Reagan. Furthermore, America has been a part socialist state for some time now, and to act as if Obama has brought about socialism is to show a willful ignorance of history. If you wish to stop socialism in America you had better be willing to explain to the seniors of this nation that Medicare won’t be there for them, and I don’t see many conservatives lining up for that job. Finally, it is hard to take the outrage of protesters seriously when these are the same people that stood by George W. Bush’s side as he greatly expanded the scope of the government, trampled the rights of Americans, and ran America into the largest deficit in history.
The true threat of these tea parties, and the movement that is propelling them, is revealed once you get past the issues that serve as the false front. These parties had more than their fair share of people who still believe President Obama was not born in America, people that believe he is the new Hitler as well as a Socialist anti-Christ (being both fascist and socialist is quite the feat), the same sort of people that were calling for him to be assassinated at Republican rallies during the election. Gov. Perry (R-TX) has made statements supporting secession, and this idea is popular among Texans despite the seeming infeasibility of an independent Republic of Texas.
Of course, there is always a fringe element to any cause, both left and right. The majority of conservatives are not radicals that believe Obama is Hitler, just as the majority of liberals are not radicals that believe Bush is Hitler. It is an inevitable consequence of causes that there are fringe groups. The danger apparent for the Republican Party is that they are allowing these fringe and radical groups to speak for them, to be their loudest voice. Radical elements in a political movement are only valuable when they have a counterbalance, and the Republican Party is absent that crucial balance.
Although there might be some liberals that would see the death of the mainstream Republican Party as a blessing, the growing fringe base of the Republican Party is driven by fear, and that makes it extremely dangerous. The times we live in are scary, there is no denying that, but when you have leaders whipping up support based solely on fear of terrorism, economic collapse, immigration, etc. there is no time for questions, for thought. One need look no further back then the Bush presidency to see the disastrous consequences of unreasoned reaction as leadership. For the sake of this country I hope that someone in the conservative movement has the integrity to stand up and ask people to question what they are hearing, not just from the left but from the right as well.

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Posted in politics | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »