When I was a child at camp, one of the summer highlights was “color war.” The entire camp, including counselors and staff, would be arbitrarily divided into two teams — “red” and “white” and then for a week would engage in athletic and other contests to build up points for a final victory. I particularly remember the intense discussions around the “bunk,” of how disgusting our opponents were — fellow campers who had been our friends yesterday!
Now I am not saying that the present stand off between Democrats and Republicans is exactly the same as color war. I recognize that there are differences between the parties, and like everyone else I know, I plan to vote for Obama. But I must say that the way in which my progressive and leftist friends are focused on how terrible the Republicans are does remind me of Junior High School. Having been in New York after 9/11 I know what it feels like to be in a panicky environment in which loyalty is everything, and I don’t like it.
What I am talking about is the need to think independently of Obama, even as we vote for him. An example of what I mean is the discussion of his now-famous remark about who built America. The Republicans made “We built it” the slogan for their first night, and the New York Times took them up on it, calling Obama’s remark “poorly phrased” and “deliberately taken out of context.” According to the Times, “President Obama was making the obvious point that all businesses rely to some extent on the work and services of government. But Mr. Romney has twisted it to suggest that Mr. Obama believes all businesses are creatures of the government, and so the convention had to parrot the line.”