The recent letter by Dr. Robert D. Phillips [“We’re All Part of This Problem,” Sept. 26] had some interesting and no doubt accurate observations about the dysfunctions of the American family and the Bush family. Surely Mr. Bush’s flaws are ours as well, in varying degrees. And yes, we are all complicit in our society of greed, indifference and self-interest, also in widely varying degrees.
But here’s a critical difference: Most of us, no matter how dysfunctional, have the power to affect only a relatively small number of people. Not so for the president of the United States. This “profile in damage” has the power of life and death over countless Americans, Iraqis, Afghanis and other living beings, human and nonhuman, around the globe. Not to mention the power to wreak general havoc on environmental, economic, civil-rights [and other] issues here at home.
I would turn Dr. Phillips’ statement on its head and say that this man’s policies and decisions as president are what should be important to compassionate Americans; the fact that he is “acting out the consequences of his childhood family drama” is quite incidental, and not really of concern to us in the political arena.
Perhaps by saying our president “cannot afford” to change his program, Dr. Phillips is saying he is literally unable to. … If we think that’s so, then feeling helpless would indeed be the only possibility—or, perhaps, hoping for the compassion fairy to descend and touch us, each and every one.
For those of us who believe in the possibility of volitional action, there already exists a mechanism for “intervention” when a president commits crimes and exceeds his designated powers. It’s called impeachment. It’s what should be done here. Compassion for George W. Bush—[and for] all living things—is fine, but compassion (and justice) for his victims and potential future victims should be a priority. Job No. 1 should be to get his pitiable posterior out of office, along with his more dangerous and perhaps more “damaged” vice president.
One great virtue of our political system is that its design incorporates safeguards against the abuse of power. The very idea of a government of laws and not of men implies that we need not wait until we are all filled with compassion and enlightened, or are saved. It’s a system that is meant to work despite our flawed nature as human beings.
Yes, there’s a lot of blaming, complaining, hand-wringing etc. But the American people did demonstrate last November their real desires, as well as their faith in the system and their elected representatives. Whether that faith in either is justified has yet to be seen, and might make an interesting psychological study for another day. So far, very few of those representatives have had the courage to put statesmanship above personal ambition and stand up for the right thing. What we can do is relentlessly keep pressure on them to do so. With compassion, of course.
— Brad Nickerson