I’m going to begin by stating that I am a hypocrite. I do enjoy Saturday Night Live and I’m amazed at Tina Fey’s imitation of Sarah Palin. She wins the award for the best mimic job on television right now.
There is an underlying current, however, that has a major lack of health and benefit. We have become a society of learning to marginalize people.
For better or worse, Sarah Palin has become very marginalized. When she stands up to speak we think of Tina Fey. We also think of how Tina Fey will portray her. I might not be a fan of Sarah Palin’s, but I do not believe she is lacking in intelligence. She is lacking in education on issues and that lack of education shows itself time and time again. She is partly at fault for accepting the nomination for a position she had no business taking; but she also can fault those who chose her. What has taken place now is quite simple. She has become fodder for Saturday Night Live and fewer and fewer people are taking her seriously. She has become marginalized.
Marginalization is one of the favorite mechanisms of Rush Limbaugh. If one listens to him he is less interested in a person’s positions or arguments, but finds himself more interested in finding ways to demean the person. His comments about Colin Powell and race being the only real reason Powell was supporting Obama. I like to think that most people who can count to 21 with their shoes on do not fall for such foolishness but I would probably be sadly disappointed. Limbaugh ignored the words of Powell and made it all about race so that Powell would be marginalized and not taken seriously. It is a bold gambit, I might add, because Powell is a person of great integrity, courage, and accomplishment. Limbaugh cannot argue with him on merit, so his attempt is to demean him.
It goes on.
We have John McCain being portrayed as a tottering old fool who is all over the lot and not to be taken seriously. This is marginalization in a blatant form.
We have Joe Biden marginalized who lives to put his foot in his mouth so as to make him appear incompetent and lacking in judgment. Again, this is marginalization at its best. Or worst.
So much of the campaign by many has been to marginalize Barack Obama as being Arab, Muslim, odd, friend of terrorists both foreign and domestic. If people can marginalize him enough, he becomes less serious.
This is done because it is an effective political tactic.
No one has been more marginalized than George W. Bush. One can argue that his judgments (or lack thereof) and his failures have helped him earn the role he has right now. That is not an unreasonable or foolish argument. He is leaving a mess behind that no President has ever inherited. Not even close.
George W. Bush is also in an important office and the office of the President means something. Years ago Andy Rooney spoke to a man during the Watergate era and the man had a picture of President Nixon on the wall. Rooney asked the man about having a picture of Nixon on the wall and the man said that he didn’t have a picture of Nixon, but a picture of the President of the United States. The position is less about the person and more about the office.
So when the marginalized George W. Bush spoke before an anxious nation to speak about the economy, he calmed no fears. It really mattered very little as to who wrote the speech or what he said or even how brilliant or dumb his words were. He, he personally, has been so marginalized that hardly anyone takes him seriously.
The lesson in all of this is simple. When we marginalize our leaders, when we make them irrelevant, when we make them little more than laughing stocks, they have no ability to lead us when we have a crisis or reassure us that all will be well.
Being critical of bad leaders and bad decisions is not only a Constitutional right, but a Constitutional responsibility. All good governments require a loyal opposition; but when the opposition works to marginalize the people in power, we all suffer the consequences.