"Thus always to tyrants" is the English translation. It's the motto of the state of Virginia. The words spoken by the assassin of President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, as he limped across the stage of Ford's Theatre after shooting the president. If you don't know why he was limping - shame on you for not knowing your US History.
The phrase is supposed to mean death is what tyrants get. It's funny, of all the words that come to mind when I think of Lincoln, tyrant is not one of them. Yet, when you consider what Lincoln accomplished, as president, and how his foes and political opponents vilified him, it's a wonder worse names weren't used.
Today, we call our president worse.
Obama is everything from socialist to communist to Nazi. I have to wonder, how will future history judge him? Now, please understand, I'm not putting Obama on a par with Lincoln; I'm merely pointing out that, like Lincoln, we should wait for the judgment of history to see what sort of president Obama is. For that matter, what sorts of presidents were Clinton and Bush?
Yet, I do notice a total lack of civility and good manners toward the president. Back in the days of my youth, I remember Reagan reviled for all manner of things. He didn't negotiate with the Soviets. He didn't care about the poor, giving massive tax cuts to the rich, running up the debt, cutting school lunch programs and so on. What critics said about Reagan didn't come close to the insults hurled at Obama.
If you believe what the Right Wing pundits have said, Obama is a step away from total dictatorship. Call me silly, if you wish. I think dictator is a bit of a reach.
I can't help but think of the words of President Kennedy, who spoke of the different ideas of the different political parties as just that, different. One wasn't right and the other wrong; one wasn't good and the other evil, they were merely different, and it was up to the American public to select the ideas they wanted.
Today, we have political leaders who openly say that any compromise with the president is impossible. That's pretty much a contradiction in terms - politics is the art of the possible, and negotiating is part of that art form. I also remember Charles Laughton in the movie, "Spartacus," playing a Roman Senator. He called politics a "practical business." While I'm no fan of ancient Rome and its vices, I do think he has a point.
Today, we sit with a divided government, and we face huge problems for the future. The question facing us is this, will the two sides act in a practical manner. I'd like to think so, but I'm not optimistic. When one side calls the other evil and wrong, what chance is there for compromise?
Who's the real tyrant now?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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