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.