For more than fifteen years, I have regularly appeared in the media as a foreign policy expert. I’ve always tried to be accessible to everyone from all ends of the political spectrum. Citizen dialogue and education, I believe, are the cornerstones of a vibrant democracy. Over the years, I have been interviewed by outlets of every ideological stripe, but recent experience tells me how far our public discourse has deteriorated.
In February of this year I announced my support for Barack Obama. As a lifelong Republican I decided to support this Democratic contender because he has, I believe, the energy, the intellectual capability, as well as the temperament and the steadiness to lead this country during this perilous time. Since then, I’ve appeared on many television and radio programs hosted by people who do not like Senator Obama. Compared to my experiences over the years, these interlocutors have been aggressive and the subtexts of their questions have inappropriately implied that anyone who supports the Illinois Senator is either unpatriotic, uninformed, or simply a fool.
On top of this the McCain campaign has engaged in incendiary “Robo” calls and misleading brochures, which promote baseless personal smears. John McCain says Obama is a socialist, and Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) actually suggested that Obama is a “Communist.” This is nonsense. Obama is advancing a tax policy that was first adopted by Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, and the Obama proposals do nothing more than return us to Reagan-era tax levels.
People who share traditional Republican values have nothing to fear from Senator Obama, that’s why other distinguished Republicans like General Colin Powell, Senator Lincoln Chaffee, Congressman Jim Leach, Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein, Bush Defense Policy Board official Ken Adelman, and the iconic conservative names of Buckley and Goldwater are now associated with Obama’s campaign.
We have had many chapters in American history when fear has gotten the better of us and “guilt by association” or “guilt by race, ethnicity or gender” has prevailed. But we must be better than that. In today’s fractured and challenging times, spreading false rumors is not only divisive, it is downright dangerous. We will only survive if we pull together and unite as a nation.
As we vote on Tuesday, we should pause and look at our communities and be grateful that many fine, talented people want to serve our country in this period of dislocation and crisis. We must shrug off the fear mongers who have tried to sell us an election season of devils and demons who don’t exist.