I'm one of those people that like to listen to Rush, watch O'Reilly and Hannity, and troll around the internet looking for Ann Coulter's latest absurdity. It's not that I am a fan of any of the above, but there is something sort of masochistic about it, or just plain curious like visiting the zoo and being fascinated by how different species live.
Today I heard Rush talk about how he hopes President Obama fails. To put it in context, it wasn't so much a personal attack as much as it was a criticism of the Democratic ideals that Obama stands for. We all know that the economy is in the tank. Much of Obama's success as president relies on whether his significant spending plan lifts us out of the economic moray we find ourselves in. Banking, healthcare, the auto and mortgage industries -- these sectors survival and well being largely rely on federal bailouts that amount to almost a trillion dollars in bailout spending. The number is almost unfathomable. As a side -- in 1993 Congress (dominated by Democrats) rejected President Clinton's significant spending plan on the premise that it was "too rich." The price-tag? 19 billion! Let that sit for a beat....
But here's the thing. Rooting against Obama and his success in times like these is just plain masochistic. I get the fact that the right is suffering right now and their ideals are unpopular and under attack. I get the fact that the Obama love affair and adulation is borderline nauseating and incredulous. Trust me, I get all of that and have stored up my own reserve of cynicism for just how much the messiah can honestly achieve. But hoping to see Obama fail is plain self-defeating. In India where for centuries the caste system has endured (and still does today), there is a saying: "death is the great equalizer." For when you die and are cremated and your ashes spread in the river Ganges, she does not care much for which caste you came from.
Likewise, today as our entire economic system (largely predicated on credit markets) hangs precariously in the balance, we face something that is far beyond partisan politics. To applaud failure is to advocate our own demise. Of course, if you are Rush Limbaugh - with your alleged 100 million + radio deal in hand - you can probably afford to weather the storm as the economy disassembles and then (hopefully) re-assembles. But if you are "Joe the Plumber" for whom with such fanfare and bally-hoo you claim to represent, it's not quite the same scenario.
We live in interesting times. Economies and ecologies appear to be collapsing in front of our very eyes. We run the risk of the hysteria propelled by history and charisma blinding us to the harsh realities of the tremendous odds we face. The last thing we need is our own - no matter our difference in opinions - to hope our new leaders fail. Because if he fails, so do we.
Gotham Chopra regularly blogs at www.intent.com