President Clinton spoke today at the Center for American Progress, expressing concern about the Tea Party participants, trying to connect the crowds to the rage that created the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He was concerned that many people are ‘deeply troubled’ and closed by saying:
“By all means keep fighting, by all means, keep arguing,” he said. “But remember, words have consequences as much as actions do, and what we advocate, commensurate with our position and responsibility, we have to take responsibility for. We owe that to Oklahoma City.”
I’ll not spend more time refuting the theme that the tea parties are full of violent folks — or that they’re ‘anti-government’ (instead of anti-‘Unconstitutional exercise of government’) — that’s been well documented already here and many other places.
But for the first time in a very long time, I want to agree with President Clinton and state that many people are ‘deeply troubled.’ In fact, I’m one of them, but clearly not in the sense that President Clinton was implying in his remarks.
I believe you can be ‘deeply troubled’ and not be a menace or unhinged kook who will blindly cause death and destruction.
I believe that you can be ‘deeply troubled’ when you observe lawmakers in Congress passing legislation that they have not read nor understand. Anyone who is not troubled by the Speaker of the House declaring that ‘you have to pass the bill to see what’s in it’ is clearly not paying attention.
I believe that you can be ‘deeply troubled’ when you observe lawmakers in Congress seizing unprecedented control over private industry, banking and health care in an arrogant show of political power and complete disregard for historical precedent and the Constitution.
I believe that you can be ‘deeply troubled’ when you observe the President conducting foreign policy that demeans our most steadfast allies and accommodates our most recent adversaries without any tangible benefit to the nation.
I believe that you can be ‘deeply troubled’ when the President surrounds himself with advisers and ‘czars’ who hold the most radical, non-traditional views of what capitalism, liberty and private property rights mean to our continued prosperity.
I believe that you can be ‘deeply troubled’ when the President and the Congress together mount a campaign to spend trillions of dollars we do not have for programs which provide limited tangible benefit, leading to a very real prospect of runaway inflation, draconian levels of taxation, economic ruin, or a combination of all three.
I believe that you can be ‘deeply troubled’ when the President sweeps aside past policies of Presidents of both parties that served to prolong peace and stability with regard to nuclear weapons, in favor of an idealized view of the world and those weapons, which can place our nation at greater risk in the future.
There are a whole lot more things about the way our government is managing affairs that can cause one to be ‘deeply troubled,’ which I won’t describe in favor of brevity.
But here is where I disagree with President Clinton: I do not fear those who are ‘deeply troubled.’
Where he sees the potential for violence (curiously, only from those on the Right), I see the reality of engagement. Tens of thousands of ordinary Americans are showing up at rallies and town hall meetings to express their intent and dissatisfaction with the way the affairs of government are being run. Hundreds of thousands of phone calls and letters have captured their thoughts and transmitted them to their Senators and Representatives. And finally, as President Clinton points out, November is coming–where votes will be cast and the people will choose their future leaders.
Unlike President Clinton and President Obama, I trust the American people to do the right thing, once they have the right information at hand to inform their choices. I realize that many people made choices in past elections based on misinformation and misperception — and that is where words and actions matter. I will devote time, energy and money to bring the right information and messages to people, and trust that will make the difference. That’s what we do here in America — and it usually works.