Tsk, Tsk Mr. President. Are You For Us Or Against Us?

We place high hopes in our presidents each time they take office. And me, Jane, Pollyanna of Blog World (ok, in the real world, too) was so energized and excited during the 2008 election year. It was wonderful to see people passionate about their candidates. This was not a campaign for the apathetic. People voted in droves. I loved the message of hope and renewal each presidential candidate promised, but that Barak Obama truly embodied.

President Obama is a great orator. And I believe all Americans hope and pray that he is the great leader his speeches imply he can be.

But then, he delivers a speech like this one at the University of Wisconsin.

President Obama spoke to a crowd at the University of Wisconsin on September 28th. First he said this,

“I hoped and expected that we could get beyond some of the old political divides between Democrats and Republicans, blue states and red states, that had prevented us from making progress for so long because although we are proud to be Democrats, we are prouder to be Americans.”

And then he said this,

“The other side would have you believe this election is a referendum on me or a referendum on the economy, a referendum on anything except them.  But make no mistake.  This election is a choice.  And the choice could not be clearer.”

And then this,

“If the other side does win, they will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place.”

Whether we believe these comments is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that our President (and I mean our in every sense of the word) is pitting two sides of our great country against one another. To me, this is akin to a parent of two children, choosing the side of one child and egging that particular child on in the fight. Supporting him. Cheering for him.

Argue with me all you will but our President, my President should save this rhetoric for his own campaign speech. Now that he is in his elected office, his job should be to unite the country, not divide it.

Oh sure, his job right now is to drum up support for his party so that the nasty, evil step-child doesn’t snag the bigger bedroom.

There are other people who might be better suited for a divisive speech such as this. A leader in the democratic party who is not currently representing all constituents in their region.

There is a better place for this type of speech. A rally of Democrats, for example. Not a public forum of mixed company.

And there are ways to do this without causing a great emotional divide. 

First,  mention the names of the Democratic candidates you support in your speech. By name. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. Or U.S. Senate Democrat, Russ Feingold. Tell America (or in this case, Wisconsin) to vote for them. Because you agree with their policy. Because you know they will work for all of us to better America.  Because they stand for what you think is right for America. Logically point out their value to the American people with examples.

But to pit both sides squarely against each other. To throw an emotional blanket over the issues at hand. To call the sides “us” and “them.” To lump all people with a D as the perfect child and all people with an R next to their name as the other, awful, evil step-child?

Suicide, my dear Mr. President. Suicide.

When I heard him calling it an us vs. them fight? (Insert loud scratching sound of the needle to the 33rpm record here.) I wanted to say, “Whaaaaaaaa?”

Didn’t you just say you are proud to be a Democrat but you are prouder to be an American? If you’re not about uniting this great country of ours, what are you about?

Every American out there that voted Republican in the 2008 election, that has been admiring your progress, enjoying the hope and change you have promised our dear country, will be offended. They will hear your rallying cry of us vs. them and they will side with the group they feel comfortable  and familiar with. They may even passionately show up to the polls in droves, hoping to defeat the golden child running against their underdog.

I have been a voting member of society for over 25 years now. Some of my candidates have won. Some have lost. But always. Always. I have supported the president that did get elected to office.

I don’t speak badly of my president.


I may disagree. I may be embarrassed by his actions. I may hold my breath each time he opens his mouth to speak. But I stand firmly behind his leadership because he now represents ALL of America.

All of Americans.

All of us.


Filed under Politics, Soapbox

14 responses to “Tsk, Tsk Mr. President. Are You For Us Or Against Us?

  1. Us VS Them—and here I thought it was all about WE the American People.

    Great Post.

  2. Excellent .. thank you. I have sort of crawled in a hole and stopped listening to everything political because of this type of finger pointing rhetoric. Until our elected officials learn to work for us, for principles and together instead of creating internal blaming wars .. things are not going to improve.

  3. Ah. You decided to venture out into the midfield. Good show, good show!

    You know what? I think you make an excellent point. Before now whenever I heard a president make comments as blatantly partisan as the above examples I’d feel vaguely uneasy without even knowing why. Now I know, thanks to you! 🙂

    That said…

    This may come across as partisan, but I really feel it’s true. When Bush was elected without a majority of the voters his supporters really rammed home the point that dissent was wrong and bad for the country and that it was harmful for a myriad of other reasons as well. Then Obama won with a clear majority and these same folks were suddenly the biggest dissenters of all time. This single bit of hypocrisy, to me, is probably one of the most horrible things I’ve ever seen politically. I really feel that Obama has been subjected to some of the fiercest and most vile opposition I’ve ever seen. The level of it has been truly astounding.

    So it is not hard to understand that he might feel the need to respond. I’m not saying it is the right thing to do. I firmly believe that two wrongs will never make a right. But I can understand the reason why he might feel he has no choice.

    Just some opinions of mine. 🙂

  4. Nicki

    I have to say that this type of language came much later than I anticipated in the Obama presidency. It is the language of a true politician. Back in 2008, my biggest concern about an Obama presidency was his lack of experience. I was sure that a lot of what he thought could be done would be locked down in partisan politics which he thought he could through. I am not sure what breaks through those us/them, red/blue, Dem/Repub lines but whatever it is has not yet been discovered by the president.

    Good writing, Jane!

  5. Oh, politics is ugly business. I have never heard a successful politician not pit one against another. Too bad.

    And I believe in dissent. It’s okay to not like what our president is doing. And to say something. That is what makes our country great.

  6. Penny

    I am neither Repub or Dem, and when I heard this speech, I was – frankly – jaw-dropping shocked. I agree fully with what you’ve said here, about the “us vs. them” attitude. What more, it bothers me that he makes reference to hoping that we could get over the differences, when he, himself, so obviously has not. Great post, Jane. Seriously.

  7. To me, it seems that much more time is being spent telling me what people are against than is being spent telling what people (Democrat or Republican) actually support.

  8. I agree, up to a point. This president is not the first to do this type of thing, and will not be the last. There is no politician still alive that does not do exactly the same thing. There has been conflict between parties since the early days of our country and it seems to grow worse all the time. Red state, blue states – I only started hearing about them during the G.W.Bush administration, and I think those he surrounded himself with compounded the problems. Now our parties cannot be civil to one another and very little gets done. We need to rethink this – start all over.

  9. Divide and conquer? Pass the buck? All talk no action?

    Honestly…I’m just not impressed so far.

  10. jterrill

    I have been thinking the exact same thing for awhile now. If the President really, REALLY wants to unite this country why does he continue to draw lines, point the proverbial finger and drift farther and farther away from the hope and change he promised the American people. So far, I am still hoping for change.

  11. Great points. Expectations ran high with his election, and increasingly, we are seeing that he’s not able to deliver- and thus, the finger-pointing and blame-heaping. ‘Cause it’s certainly not anything *he’s* doing, right?

  12. Pingback: We, The People

  13. The Prez is gonna’ get hammered no matter what he does. If he takes the high road, his fervent Democratic base and some Independents will scream that he is ‘not connected’ and ‘lacks fire’. When he reacts to the massive criticism he has become divisive.

    I too appreciate more the high road approach even though it would probably cost him. I really wish there was some forum in which he could debate his protagonists directly which would force discussions away from innuendo to actual issues so that we could understand honestly both sides of the debate. As it stands now, there is so much static out there we are not sure what the music sounds like.

    We should all want the Prez to succeed and to be challenged every step of the way with honest discussion. I vote for the person rather than party affiliation or platform (which changes daily).

    Great and thoughtful post.

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