Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) — appearing on pundit Ed Schultz’s radio show — had this to say about Republicans opposing President Barack Obama’s jobs bill, the American Jobs Act:
Schultz: “California congresswoman Linda Sanchez nailed the obstructors in the Senate on my radio show today.”
Sanchez: “These are not patriots. People who love this country want to see jobs created.”
Schultz: “They don’t love this country?”
Sanchez: “No, I don’t think they love this country. They’re not concerned about the economic well-being of the country as a whole.”
Schultz: “And they are so infatuated with defeating President Obama, that they have — you would label them as not patriotic?”
Sanchez: “Yes, absolutely.”
This is demonizing and name-calling. Just because Republicans don’t endorse Obama’s ideas for how to create jobs doesn’t mean they don’t support creating jobs at all, that’s just a derisive caricature.
(I know Obama and other Democrats insist that the American Jobs Act contains items that Republicans have supported in the past, arguing that it’s hypocritical for them to not support those items now. But there’s problems with this line of reasoning, and Obama doesn’t apply it to his own flip-flops.)
It’s popular in politics to label opponents as “obstructionists”, but it’s usually a poorly argued (and inconsistently applied) accusation. For instance, two Democrats — Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Jon Tester (D-MT) — also voted against Obama’s jobs bill. Will Sanchez and Schultz accuse them of being unpatriotic obstructionists who don’t care about creating jobs and the well-being of the country?
A lot has been made out of Republicans and their desire to stop Obama’s reelection. For instance, Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) claim that health care reform “will break” Obama, and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) claim that, “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president” have been cited as proof of Republican obstructionism.
But is it unpatriotic to want to defeat an opponent or to want an opponent to fail? In 2006, a poll showed that 51% of Democrats (and 32% of all those polled) did not want President George W. Bush to succeed. Did that prove Democrats were unpatriotic? Were they so infatuated with Bush’s defeat that they stopped caring about the country?
Of course not. People want the country to succeed. But, if they believe somebody’s policies are bad for the country, then obviously they want that person to fail to implement those policies. So, of course, Democrats wanted Bush to fail because they thought his policies were bad for the country, and Republicans want Obama to fail because they think his policies are bad for the country.
Nobody here is being unpatriotic, there’s just a reasonable difference of opinion between patriots about what policies are good for the country.
But, of course, a lot of people don’t describe the situation that way. They act as if there couldn’t possibly be any reasonable disagreement, it’s just obvious which policies are good and which are bad. Therefore, anyone who’s supporting policies different from their own must be intentionally doing the wrong thing, they’re harming the country on purpose. They must be unpatriotic.
It’s just the standard caricature and exaggeration attempting to make it seem like your opponents are stupid or evil. If Sanchez and Schultz don’t like being the victims of such name-calling and demonizing, then they should be perpetrators of it, either.