For a while, one of my daughters was an avid RISK player.
For those of you unfamiliar with that classic game, the goal is world
domination, achieved through a combination of skill and luck.
America is not a board game. I am getting quite tired of
hearing the IRS or Benghazi scandals discussed in terms of being good or bad
for the administration. It was just as offensive to hear the Newtown shootings
or the Boston Marathon attack described as a boon or drag on various political
parties’ legislative agendas. Intimidation
of groups by the government is an abuse of power that transcends polling. So
are the deaths of innocent Americans at home or abroad. There is something extremely distasteful in
viewing misuse of authority, failure of command or heartbreaking incidents primarily
through the prism of the President’s poll numbers or upcoming elections.
When a powerful government agency becomes a weapon of
intimidation, all Americans lose. When America behaves weakly and ineffectually
abroad, all Americans lose. When schoolchildren aren’t safe in their
classrooms, all Americans lose. I have no patience for those Republicans who
crow that the IRS and Benghazi scandals will help Republicans in the 2013
congressional elections. These episodes may indeed do so, but I would rather win
an election on principle rather than achieve victory because the current
administration behaved in a way that damaged this country. If it then used
evasion and dishonesty in an attempt to avoid blame, once again, Americans of
all political persuasions lost.
Some supporters of this president and his policies are downplaying
these scandals because discovering the truth may embarrass and discredit a
person they admire and a group with whose principles they identify. This
reveals great lack of character and destroys their credibility. In fact, these distressing and disappointing
moments provide opportunities for greatness.
John Adams faced such a moment in 1770 when the slanted
propaganda surrounding what we think of as the ‘Boston Massacre’ unjustly
threatened to condemn British soldiers to death. Despite being associated with
the Patriot cause and possibly risking his hopes for leadership in that cause,
he defended the soldiers. By placing principled truth ahead of personal
ambition, he chose greatness.
In this case, the opportunity for greatness lies with
liberal Democratic reporters, politicians and pundits. When those with access
to power and influence stop thinking of themselves as Americans and instead identify
primarily as political animals, all Americans lose. Love of country should
transcend partisanship and decent men and women should be willing to put
America’s winning above that of their own ‘team’.
When a game of RISK finishes,
the board is cleaned up and the former opponents move on to other pursuits. The
real-life cleanup will be messier and longer, maybe impossible, if the American
government ceases to be ‘of the people, for the people and by the people.’