Opinion | Morgan Liddick: The politics of the self-centered child
On your right
Today’s caucus day. Hopefully, everyone is set to voice their opinion. While we’re waiting for festivities to begin, here’s something for us all to think about: Ms. Maria Celeste Arraras wants to know what Republicans are going to do for Latinos.
At the Republican candidates’ debate last Thursday on CNN, Ms. Celeste — a popular Telemundo personality, Hillary Clinton acolyte and open-borders advocate for over a decade — was in what some refer to as “Pakistani journalist mode”: make an inflammatory two-minute speech, the upshot of which is “How can you be so stupid as not to realize you have to give me everything I want,” followed by “Don’t you agree?”
She began by suggesting Sen. Rubio lied about ending deferred action on deportations, although his statement clearly explained the reality of spreading the expiration of deferrals over many months — a willful failure to understand plain language. She continued by asking Sen. Cruz if he was aware Republicans would lose the presidential election by hurting the feelings of Hispanic Americans with all their unpleasant talk about how illegal immigration really is illegal and needs to end. And by not promising illegal immigrants free stuff like the Democrats.
Evidently, Ms. Celeste was not familiar with the senator’s actions in Iowa, where giveaways to the ethanol industry was a central topic. Instead of groveling, she was treated to a brief treatise on the benefits of lawful behavior, capitalism and free enterprise — including the value of hard work. Sen. Rubio was quick to point out that he — the only other serious Latino candidate for the presidency — agreed with the sentiment. Ms. Celeste then turned to Gov. Kasich with the same question. He simply refused to respond.
More important than Maria Celeste Arraras’ failure to get the answer she wanted was her thrice-asked question and the mindset it reveals. Boiled down, it is transactional politics at its most corrupt: What will you give me for my support?
Gone are the days of John Kennedy’s bold challenge; now it is perfectly acceptable to put self-interest above the national interest: Ask not what we can do for our country, ask what our country can do for us. Those who wish to lead better be quick and fulsome with the response.
Worse than this shameless appeal to the greedy, self-centered child in some of us is the effort many now exert to elevate race, class and gender to the same level of importance. Large groups across society are now being told by those who would be our leaders that there is no reason to be concerned about the nation’s well-being unless doing so will benefit their race or income group. Black lives, not all lives, matter. The interests and goals of Americans who open businesses, employ people and generate taxable income matter far less than those of the people who sweep the floors of their factories.
What we see before us this election season is the poisonous brew brought forth by years of toil in the vineyards of multiculturalism and the orchards of envy. Crushed out in the fruit-press of bogus theories of “white privilege” and fermented in the vats of racial and class division, this potent draught has the power to send our republic into paroxysms of violence, fear and suspicion not seen for the better part of a century. And yet, dangerous as it is there is a simple antidote to this vicious brew: If those in a position to do so neither drank nor served it, its power and appeal would melt away like snow on a July sidewalk.
An appropriate response to questions like those of Ms. Celeste might channel that long-ago president Theodore Roosevelt who, despite his many faults, stood firmly for a united country with common purpose. Such a response might have reminded Ms. Celeste — or any other who asked a similar question — that the presidency does not exist to serve the needs and desires of any one group or class; that it is not limited to a distinct area of the country, a single group of interests or a unique stratum of society; that it is rather an office in service to the country as a whole.
Repeatedly used, such a response would not only put paid to the clamoring for favor which has come to dominate presidential politics today, but it would also draw luminous distinctions not only between the candidate and the current officeholder, who promised to unify but has sown nothing but division, but also with his Democratic rivals, whose approach seems to be only to enhance our differences, rather than to stress our commonalities.
Such was the missed opportunity of Thursday. Should it come again, hope someone has the wit to seize it — and show us the forgotten politics of principle.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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