We are Part of an Abusive Family, by C. Mason Weaver

In 1996 and 1997, I predicted on the radio show I host that Bill Clinton would be brought down by actions committed before he moved to Washington. I was right. The Paula Jones lawsuit, concerning actions Clinton took while he was governor of Arkansas, led to Monica Lewinsky. The President’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, and the lies he told to cover up the affair, now fuel the current calls for his resignation.

I also wrote in 1997 that the real concern should be why the American people still accept and defend Clinton. I remember interviewing Clinton’s schoolmates and former legal colleagues. The good people of Arkansas even tried to warn us before the 1992 election. But the American people elected Clinton anyway, and even re-elected him after his scandal-prone first term in office.

What does this say about our culture and the principles by which Americans now live? Bill Clinton reminds me of an abusive husband. We are his family. He beats us and cheats on us, and we delude ourselves with the fact that – if we just love him a little more – he will stop. When he comes home drunk with lipstick on his lapel, we continue to forgive him. The American people have been exposed to so much lying, cheating and deception that we have become numb to his actions, and our emotions are raw. To condemn Clinton now would force us to also condemn ourselves. Clinton’s philosophy seems to be that if we do not criticize his sins, he will not criticize ours.

Since we elected him, we are ultimately responsible for Bill Clinton. Since he is our President, he cannot be corrupt unless we allow him to be corrupt. Again, like a dysfunctional and abusive family, he always promises to do better next time and we melt back into his arms.

Our problem is not that President Clinton has inhaled drugs, committed adultery, accepted illegal campaign contributions or laundered money. It is about how the American people created a co-dependent and enabling society that allowed it to happen. Clinton is a reflection of us, and the best analogy – once again – is the abused family. The family protects and hides the abuse. Children become either withdrawn or outgoing in an attempt to stay away from the family. The non-abusive spouse blames himself or herself, defending the abuser against the world. I have heard it before: “If he would just stop beating me, cheating on me and gambling, we would have a great marriage.”

I have noticed that anyone who comes out against the President is attacked and vilified. It doesn’t matter if Clinton admits he’s wrong or not because his accuser will be attacked for simply bringing the charges against him. Not too long ago I heard a preacher lecture from the pulpit that the problem in the White House was not Clinton and sex, but that Monica told on him. After the service, I mentioned to the preacher that Clinton was guilty of adultery. He still did not budge from his position.

Have you noticed the problems you see reported by the media always seem to involve Ken Starr, Linda Tripp, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky, but not President Clinton? It is never the fault of the alcoholic. The wife-beater will blame the wife. The cheater will always say, “she doesn’t understand me.” Our problem, in both the abusive family and how we deal with Bill Clinton, is that we accept the abuse.

Our nation is in the midst of an abusive relationship. We are in denial, and believe that if the President is wrong we must also be wrong. As a nation, we need counseling. We may, as a people, no longer be able to make clear and rational decisions.

There is a member of our American family who is not fit to lead. We must take care of him. If we love him more, he will only continue abusing us. If we believe his lies and hope for the best, he will still not respect us. We need to come to terms with our abusive situation. “Mistakes were made,” but it is possible that we have “been misled.” One thing is for certain is that we need to “get this behind us.” If we cannot separate or find safe shelter, we may need a divorce.

(C. Mason Weaver is a member of the African American leadership network Project 21 and the Director of the Committee to Restore America.)

Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.

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