It’s discouraging to see how dimly some presidential candidates view the American public.

They see us as gullible, intolerant, cowardly, filled with hatred, ignorant of our own history, dismissive of lofty values, ready to be led like sheep into a future filled with disaster that we will blame on someone else.

I don’t see my fellow Americans in such a dim way. I know we disagree, and some of our disagreements make my blood boil. But in the end, I think we are a decent people, ready to help others, capable of great bravery, guided by common sense, and loyal to a national purpose that is higher than scapegoating and worthy of respect.

What we have in common, I think, is disappointment. We are disappointed in our economic circumstances, in our children’s prospects, in the quality of our common life. We are disappointed in our leaders – we hoped for more from them. We are disappointed in the easy way greed has bought Congress.

Disappointment could be turned to anger and hatred. Or it could be turned to resolve and shared sacrifice. I think we want the latter, but our would-be leaders seem determined to lead us into darker places.


Q: Rick Perry has an ad bashing gays, and in it Perry also says that he will end “Obama’s war on religion”. Media Matters reports that numerous FOX News commentators are praising Perry’s attack on “Obama’s war on religion.” I would love to hear your thoughts on FOX’s comments and what it is saying about our country’s dialogue on religion.

A: Pure demagoguery. Create a straw-man enemy, and knock him down. Tell the “big lie,” and keep telling it until people stop noticing that it’s a lie.

Clearly, the right wing has only one objective in the 2012 election: to defeat Obama. No concern for the economy, the Constitution, human rights, decency, truthfulness, or the scorched earth they will have caused. To that end, candidates and their cheerleaders at Fox will say anything to pander to anti-Obama zealots.

It is nonsense to say that Obama or any public figure has declared “war on religion.” I hear hateful things being said against the poor, children, women, gays, immigrants, the unemployed – but religion seems exempt from this hatred, except for growing intolerance of Islam.

American religion itself is highly divided, of course, and we spend much energy making war on each other. Our President has no hand in our intra-religion nastiness. We do it to ourselves.