Ye grand olde bully pulpit
“If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” President-elect George W. Bush, CNN, Dec.18, 2000.
The United States was born out of a long, bloody struggle against tyranny. American colonists were so angry over their oppression by King George III of England, they listed their complaints against him. This list became known as the Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776.
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Americans don’t like bullies. Our official stand has always been to support human rights and fight tyranny.
Today, modern Republicans seem to want to reverse this and elevate bullies to positions of admiration. They claim to be against dictators, especially when they are whining about President Obama, but this claim breaks down when it’s closely examined. What they mean is that they don’t think any Democratic president should have any power, while Republicans should be free to do whatever they want. If this sounds strange, let’s look at some Republican heroes and examine some history.
On March 2, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, expressed his admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“Putin decides what he wants to do, and he does it in half a day. Then everybody reacts. That’s what you call a leader.”
Of course, that “leader” has invaded two sovereign countries, Georgia and Ukraine, and was kicked out of the Group of 8 (G-8), now the G-7. This is apparently the leadership model Republicans admire.
Donald Trump, who announced his candidacy on June 16, seems to think that if he becomes president, he can order other countries around, disregard treaties and ignore Congress. He even expressed his admiration for China’s Communist leaders, saying our leaders should be more like them. The fact that he is placing high in the polls should be an embarrassment to the whole Republican Party.
Several other prospective Republican candidates for president have shown that they also are bullies. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tells his constituents to “Sit down and shut up” when they attempt to question him. Does he think that will work with world leaders?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker bragged that he would be able to deal with ISIS because he crushed the Wisconsin teachers’ union. “If I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world.” He ignores the fact that those protesters weren’t shooting anyone. Standing up to ISIS will cost American lives. Walker can’t seem to tell the difference; he thinks bullying will work anywhere. Is he really ready to be Commander-in-Chief?
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan decided to invade the sovereign nation of Grenada without notifying Congress. Michael Reagan discussed the invasion in a recent column: “… announcing we were going to go into Grenada … He made his decision and then acted. Checking with … congress to see if it was okay with them was the last thing on his mind.”
Evidently Michael has as little respect for the Constitution as his father did. Even British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed the invasion and asked Reagan not to proceed. He lied and assured her he wouldn’t do it, while the military action was actually in progress. These are the actions of a dictator, yet Reagan is a hero to the Right.
In the 1980s, Reagan sent money and weapons to the Contras in Nicaragua, deliberately breaking laws passed by Congress. The Contras were terrorists. They murdered children. The International Human Rights Law Group said, “The documentation shows a pattern of brutality against largely unarmed civilians, including rape, torture, kidnappings, mutilation and other abuses.”
Reagan praised the Contras as “moral equals of our Founding Fathers.” Republicans admired his leadership. Maybe Obama needs to invest in a few death squads. Then Republicans might cut him some slack.
If Americans want the U.S. to be the world’s bully, then the Republicans are the party to choose. All we have to do is tear up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But if America is supposed to be an example of liberty and justice in the world, then they are the wrong choice. We need to show the world that we are not bullies; we need to show that we believe in the values we talk about. That would be the best Independence Day observance we could have.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at email@example.com.