Time to play nice — to avoid a heavy price
Posted on December 1st, 2012

By Nimal Fernando

Nothing moves pragmatism to centre-stage than a threat to survival.

If the coming months and years proves this observation to be right — put in a myriad different ways, to be sure — remember that you first read it here.

As the dust settles on a bruising election, which saw a majority of American voters asking

Barack Obama to remain at his old address, the soul-searching, blame-shifting and probably even (private) mea-culpas are yet to end …

In a listless Republican tent, which is not as large as once perceived, some stout defenders of the status quo are already showing signs of an eagerness to turn the page.

There’s Fox News media warrior Sean Hannity, for instance, whose position is suddenly “evolving” on immigration reform. And just the other day popular Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal chose to go on record denouncing sore loser Mitt Romney’s final remarks, which basically struck an anti-minority chord in a parting sop to the fringe element of the party.

To a sometimes bemused — probably always amused — international audience, every element of the American electoral process must finally be a testament to the resilience of a free society and the uplifting chaos of democracy.

 As President Obama put it at his victory rally in Chicago: ‘”Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated …. That won’t change tonight, and it shouldn’t.”

Still, what most decidedly should change is the devaluation, even degradation, of civility in the political process. This could prove to be the most urgent lesson of an exhausting election cycle, one which began the moment then-Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination.

Ever since these United States elected its first African American President (never mind the rarely-mentioned fact that he’s biracial), the Republican Party was hell bent on making him a one-termer (often ‘predicted’ with a  trademark smirk by Dick Cheney).

Obstructionism took precedence over the  national interest. And even ugly moments of  ill-disguised racism by a few of the party faithful and ill-qualified media personnel went largely ignored by the Republican leadership.

Adding to the Republicans’ bitter cup even before Barack Obama’s first term were such political lightweights (to put it, well, lightly) as Sarah Palin, Sharon Angle  and Christine O’Donnel. With the foot-in-mouth disease nearing epidemic proportions, onlookers overseas would’ve been perplexed wondering if this was the best America could offer …

So it’s time to add  the degradation of decency to very real concerns about America’s  falling grades in terms of math, science and language skills. Politicians, educators and civic leaders at all levels should be gravely concerned about the message being sent to America’s children and the impressionable young from the lamentable example being set by a few of the nation’s elected representatives, those seeking office, and
their many camp followers.

Some independents, whose numbers will surely grow given the general state of dysfunction, are even beginning to look for implied meanings behind such uplifting slogans as ‘American exceptionalism’ when uttered by
Republican spokespersons. The implication seems to be that such ‘exceptionalism’ is part and parcel of the Republican brand.

To the eternal credit of President Obama, he has consistently stayed above such pettiness, even hate. Simply put, he has been presidential.

After all the huffing and puffing, it looks like bipartisanship will be given a new lease of life,  thanks to changing demographics. A majority of We the People will make the people’s representatives, and their people, play nice. And that’s a good thing.

                         Nimal Fernando is a freelance journalist living in the United States

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