Monday, December 20, 2010
Line in the Sand
When I was a kid, my father explained to me about the whole ‘line in the sand.’ But his interpretation was a bit different than most, I suspect. I don’t know why—maybe it’s because he’s always been an odd duck, following the rhythm of a peculiar drummer only he could hear. He came up fighting because he thought he had to, and he fought the system, and fought for the system when he went to Vietnam as part of the Marine Corps Force Recon back in the early sixties.
Either way, he didn’t see the line in the sand as something you dared your adversary to step across, but rather a line drawn behind you that you refused to back across. The point where you would no longer retreat, and hold your ground no matter the cost.
The point, in effect, that defined you as a human being with a moral center and belief in your convictions. A place that to retreat from would mean sacrificing your self-image and your pride as what you perceive a decent person to be.
Gawd knows, he and I have had our issues. But not too long ago, he said to me that he respected me because I’ve “always been my own man.” When he calls me a “rabble rouser,” he says it with a certain note of pride. He’s a lifetime Democrat, and fairly progressive in thought if not in deed.
Over the past few days I’ve found myself in arguments with people over the Obama administration and it’s apparent surrender to the will of the Republicans and the measured disdain aimed at myself and other self-described “progressives.” And I find myself wondering whether it’s just a simple matter of where we’ve drawn than line in the sand, where our threshold may lie with regards to the man who is our elected leader—not only of the country, but of the political party we claim.
Thus I have to ask, all who still stand to defend President Obama’s decisions. And keep in mind that many of us have been taking steps back the whole way, feeling the push of that line against us with each and every one. The decision not to pursue criminal charges against those who clearly lied us into war. The decision to retroactively make their warrantless wiretapping legal. Not ending the wars. Bailing out the banks without insisting on concessions and regulations to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future. Saying that the public option was a must-have, and then changing his mind at the last minute just to get some legislation—even bad legislation—passed. Many of us are wondering at which point the President himself has drawn that line in the sand… at which point will HE refuse to back up any farther?
Each of us has to decide where to stand, and what spells the limits of our tolerance. A lot of us have apparently decided that he has backed us up too far, and that we can no longer consider him OUR leader because of it. Not necessarily because there’s something wrong with him, but because we expect a certain standard and cannot abide its lack. It’s not even that we’re suggesting he’s evil, or even bad. Just no longer acceptable as our leader.
Our threshold was surely much higher for a Democrat than someone like Bush. It took almost no time at all for him to spend what little tolerance we had. But we’ve come to the point that Obama has done so as well. And that doesn’t make us petulant, or childish. It makes us people of conviction. Different convictions than some, perhaps. But so what?
I ask of you, where do you stand? Where do YOU draw your line in the sand? At what point would you decide that your sense of honor, your sense of conviction, has been betrayed by the one you elected to lead you? Serious question. At what point would YOU consider the “compromise” too much to bear?