So I don’t usually comment on politics on this blog. There’s a good reason for that. I have a long history with politics and frankly, I prefer not to impose my political views on too many people. I’ve done enough of that in my life.
However, sometimes I just have to comment on something that I find patently false. I don’t do this for everything, otherwise I’d spend every waking minute doing this. No, these rare special times come when something is false and spreading like a virus.
I’ve been hedging on doing this because I wanted to see if this one blog post I read would catch support from others and sure enough it has.
This is the post that succeeded in setting me off. It’s a blog post from a Canadian complaining about how Americans “disrespect” President Obama. There are so many things to point out that I not only disagree with, but find absolutely false. But, your sake, I’ll stick to just a couple.
Beginning of Rant
Here’s falsehood #1:
There was a time not so long ago when Americans, regardless of their political stripes, rallied round their president. Once elected, the man who won the White House was no longer viewed as a republican or democrat, but the President of the United States. The oath of office was taken, the wagons were circled around the country’s borders and it was America versus the rest of the world with the president of all the people at the helm.
Suddenly President Barack Obama, with the potential to become an exceptional president has become the glaring exception to that unwritten, patriotic rule.
I’m sorry Mr. Thomas, but you are wrong. I don’t know you. I don’t know how well you know American politics or American political history, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here. But honestly, can we take off the fantasy-land glasses and look at history. Do you remember President George W. Bush? I can recall people not circling the wagons around him, calling him Hitler and claiming all sorts of things. Bill Clinton didn’t exactly have a Americans of all strips supporting him. Too recent? Let’s go further back. President Reagan was criticized many times for how he dealt with the Soviet Union. FDR had his critics. So did Silent Calvin Coolidge. And Woodrow Wilson.
And what about Abe Lincoln, one of our most beloved presidents? When he was elected, the country split apart – hardly a circle the wagons moment Mr. Thomas. If you want to find some mythical time when Americans circled the President, your best bet may be George Washington, although I’m willing to bet that I could probably find critics of George too. We definitely know that the supposed unity around the president ended with John Adams who signed the Alien and Sedition Act. One of the many things this act did was restrict speech of anyone who was critical of the federal government. Hardly uniting. And I’m guessing the act was passed because there was plenty of nasty things being said about the government and Mr. Adams in particular.
In President Barack Obama, Americans have a charismatic leader with a good and honest heart. Unlike his predecessor, he’s a very intelligent leader. And unlike that president’s predecessor, he’s a highly moral man.
So it’s not ok to criticize President Obama, but it ok to question the intelligence of a previous president whom I’m guessing, Mr. Thomas, you didn’t like? Hmm.
The man is being challenged unfairly, characterized with vulgarity and treated with the kind of deep disrespect to which no previous president was subjected. It’s like the day after electing the first black man to be president, thereby electrifying the world with hope and joy, Americans sobered up and decided the bad old days were better.
President Obama may fail but it will not be a Richard Nixon default fraught with larceny and lies. President Obama, given a fair chance, will surely succeed but his triumph will never come with a Bill Clinton caveat – “if only he’d got control of that zipper.”
Please. Give the man a fair, fighting chance. This incivility toward the leader who won over Americans and gave hope to billions of people around the world that their lives could be enhanced by his example, just naturally has to stop.
Here’s my issue with these three paragraphs – how much time does the man need, how much cushion should he be given before he can be judged for anything he is responsible for? He took office in 2009. I can’t remember people ever saying that the person in the White House should be given some slack.
Final analysis – So, here’s the deal. Like I said in the beginning, I’ve got a long history in politics. Here’s what I learned about politics in a one line nutshell – Politics is about power. When power is involved you know what happens? Nasty things. People crave power and will do just about anything to get their hands on it. Not everyone, mind you. But a lot of people will. People fight because of the pursuit of power. Wars are fought because of power. People die because of power. Nasty vitriol comes out of people’s mouths and in written form because of power. These are not new things. They have been going on for a long time.
Why do we seek power? What is the allure of power? Is it something that we believe will extend our lives? Or make life easier? Is it something else? Do we believe that having power will allow us to avoid the fate of every human being – death? Is power just a distraction? Lots of questions. No answers. Or many answers.
Here’s what I believe. Power can be used for good purposes or bad purposes, just like anything else. It can be used to empower others or we can try to hoard it, which history typically shows is a bad choice. But power can not save us. It cannot overcome death. Sin is in the world and our pursuit of power is evidence of this, as far as I’m concerned.
People say nasty things in politics. When people find something they believe to be important, they will do things to obtain or protect that thing – like say nasty things about politicians they disagree with. This is part of the effects of sin.
Would it be great if people all rallied around the President? I don’t know. Would that mean no one would ever question anything the President did? Would they do it differently? Who knows.
Lot’s of questions, few answers. I don’t know the answers to these questions. I do know this much – President Obama is not experiencing something unique.
End of Rant.