We have heard it from celebrity and average American citizen alike, despite the occupant of the Oval Office and who he may be.
Whether it has been Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George Walker Bush or Barack Obama, you can always find those voices who articulate their disagreement or disappointment of the leader of the free world with the line: "I didn`t vote for him. He`s NOT my president!"
In a discussion yesterday concerning the economic crisis of the country, I heard it again. "How do you think President Obama is handling the current economic crisis?" The response was swift, abrupt and non-negotiable: "I don`t know", came the reply, "I didn`t vote for him. He`s NOT my president".
The fact is, while the guy we supported in the campaign may not be in office, OUR president is.
Despite being elected twice, you could hardly find someone on the street who would admit they had voted for George Bush. As President Bush`s poll numbers and popularity ratings slid, so too did the backbone of the backbenchers who had supported him. Even a Republican Congress distanced themselves when the heat became too much. And still, George Bush stayed the course. When the issue of the economy or the war became the topic of conversation, you would hear the line again and again: "I didn`t vote for him. He`s NOT my president". Hollywood, where artists and actors, producers and directors have (under Bush) become suddenly politically astute, said it over and over..."He`s NOT my president". Some of the Hollywood elite even promised in 2004 that if Bush was reelected, they would leave the country. (I am still waiting for the exodus)
Barack Obama, despite his popularity on the campaign trail is not immune to this line. I have heard it from black and white, Democrat and Republican alike.
While you may not have voted for Barack Obama, and while he may not be your choice for the presidency, HE IS the 44th President of the United States. The institution of the presidency is more important than the personality that occupies it. Our electoral process and our institutions of government represent ALL of the people. As we know throughout our history, there have always been the disenfranchised and those whose special interests were not entertained. However, if you approach our governmental institutions with the belief that less government means more power to WE THE PEOPLE, then we recognize what the responsibilities of government are and are not.
We have the duty of citizenship to support our president when he is right and to call him on the carpet when he`s wrong. Much of our diagreement will be found in OUR perceptions of how things should be done, if you happen to be one of those Americans who are fortunate enough to know what they believe or actually have a formed opinion. When it comes to placing the interests of the country above self-interests, it becomes clear that for the benefit of the United States, our support of our President is essential. This does not mean we have to agree with every decision. We can even oppose the President when we think he`s wrong. But to say "I didn`t vote for him. He`s NOT my president", does a disservice to both the country and to our own citizenship.
The line, as innocent as it may be, only fuels disunity and discontent. We can not expect our congressional representatives to work in a bi-partisan way with The White House and then turn around and suggest "He`s not my president".
Barack Obama IS the President of the United States. His election has inspired and motivated countless young Americans across the country. While I will continue to disagree with the President on his economic policies, and I will be following his handling of National Security issues closely, I will also proudly admit to anyone, anywhere: "No, I did not vote for Barack Obama. But he IS my president".
I voted for George W. Bush. Twice. He too was my president. Every Chief Executive since George Washington represented and represents still, an institution and an opportunity to make America better. The Presidency is a symbol of American acheivement and the center of where history can be written with the great potential of our time.
We have had presidents who could not put a coherent sentence together and who governed with the help of their liquor cabinet. We have had presidents who have emerged from the backwoods and those who sprouted from Ivy League stock. Our nation has elected men who have committed adultery and others who had their human frailty on display for the entire nation and the world to witness.
And still, they have all served our nation as the President of the United States. I claim them each, with all of their flaws and greatness, as my presidents.
When 2012 rolls around and the time for Barack Obama to seek reelection arrives, I will judge his first term in an objective and critical manner. I will put the loyalty of my station as American citizen ahead of my political affiliation and I will choose the candidate who has done or will do the best job for the country. If my party does not step up to the plate with a candidate who I think will serve the country above themselves, then I will cross party lines. It is nothing more than duty to country.
I voted for John McCain because I believed he was more experienced and more prepared for the challenges we face. I still believe that. But on election night, the country delivered the election to his Democratic rival, and now we get on with the business of governing.
Barack Obama was not my candidate, but HE IS my president. As an American, I am proud of my country, her institutions and her opportunities. It`s all about America and how we choose to approach citizenship and fulfill our duties to our country. Freedom and citizenship can be hardwork and sacrifice. And it should be. Without hardwork and sacrifice, how can it be appreciated?
DavidJackson4/13/2009 9:37 PM
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