September 17, 2009

Shame on the Republicans

After the American Century

President Jimmy Carter has bluntly said what many people were thinking: that Republicans, including many sitting on Capitol Hill, have been showing a great deal of disrespect for the office of the president, as well as for President Obama personally. This seems especially clear to those Americans, like myself, who live abroad in constitutional monarchies. It would be unthinkable and socially completely unacceptable for someone to scream at the Danish queen during a speech that she was lying. Anyone who did that would be universally condemned, by all parties.

When Americans chose to be a republic, after there unhappy relationship to the British kings, the founders knew that the president would have to play a double role, as chief executive and as head of state. Some presidents have done this more successfully than others, of course, and the United States was fortunate to begin with George Washington for eight years.

Preserving civility and good manners is probably not the strong point of Americans generally, but it is important to try to show respect for those with whom one disagrees, and it is vital that a party that loses an election, as the Republicans did, respect the will of the people and try to work constructively as legislators. History will not be kind to the Republicans currently in office, however. I feel fairly certain of this, being a historian. Taking the long view, they are not behaving wisely.

Instead, we see an increasing tendency to rabble rousing, false slogans, and denial. Shame on the Republicans.