Monthly Archives: May 2012

Romney’s Republican Bullying Pulpit

It was a remarkable week as North Carolinians voted on Tuesday to ban same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships, President Obama on Wednesday historically stated that he supports gay marriage, and then, less than 24 hours later, Willard Romney’s campaign was rocked by the story that, during high school, Romney led an assault on a fellow student who had longer hair and was thought to be gay. Obama’s use of the presidential “bully pulpit” only made it that much clearer that Romney and the Republicans have a “bullying pulpit” problem.

The Romney bullying story, and Romney’s incredulous answers about it (saying he doesn’t recall the incident but somehow recalls that he didn’t know the sexuality of the victim at the time), are bad enough by themselves. But they are much worse when viewed as part of the larger narrative against Romney and the Republican Party as mean-spirited bullies in virtually all areas.

How About Saying “Elected Representatives” Instead of “Government”?

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
President Ronald Reagan, inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1981

For over 30 years, Republicans and conservatives have tried to turn “government” into a dirty word. But maybe the term “government” is a bit of a straw man created by Republicans in the first place.

In common usage, to be “governed” generally means to be controlled or ordered around. That’s often a negative connotation. A “governor” on a car or motorbike engine limits the top speed. And how about that staple of literature and Masterpiece Theater episodes, the strict, bossy English “governess”? It hardly seems a coincidence that Republicans, from Reagan on down, have so frequently referred to “government” (especially the federal government, especially when Democrats control the Executive Branch) in a negative way.

But perhaps progressives are mistaken if they embrace or get hung up on the word “government” rather than its concept.┬áThe word “government” only appears in the U.S. Constitution a few times, so there’s no natural requirement to use it when referring to the protection and security that Democrats and progressives want as a check on individual, group, and corporate excess. Instead, the Constitution largely talks about our elected representatives, i.e., our U.S. House members, Senators, and President (and the various state constitutions likewise cover elected representatives at the state level) as the agents through which we get things done.