After school on Inauguration Day I asked my kindergartner if he knew that we now had a new president. He excitedly responded, “Yes! I got to see him on the TV in class today!” Now this was not the first he had heard the name Barack Obama. It has long been a well known fact among our children that neither of their parents has a very high opinion of the man. Seeing as this man was no longer just a man or just a candidate, but now the President of the United States of America, I thought I should explain something very important to him. So I said: “You know Mommy and Daddy don’t like Barack Obama very much, don’t you?” He nodded and I went on. “In our country we have elections to decide who our leaders will be. We get to vote for who we think the best one will be. We voted for John McCain, but he didn’t win. Now, since Barack Obama won and he is our president, it is very important that we respect him.” Then the question from a five year old: “How do we respect him?” Not knowing quite how to delve into this subject very deeply with him, I simply replied: “It means that we shouldn’t say really mean things about him.”
This little boy is very creative and loves to draw pictures, write, and make little books. So he then said he’d like to make a book about President Obama. Not wanting to stifle his creative juices, I supplied him with paper and crayons and he went merrily to work. (I wanted to post pictures of the finished product here, but it seems to have been swallowed by the clutter that has taken over my den. 😦 . If it is ever recovered from the jumble I’ll update this post with pictures.)
On the cover he had drawn the face of President Obama. I will now do my best at paraphrasing his words as I can recall:
Page 1: Barack Obama is our new president.
Page 2: He is a democrat.
Page 3: Maybe John McCain will be our next president.
(My response to page 3: Oh no, please don’t let the nightmare start again!)
As I was looking at his book and read page 2, my son interrupted me to ask:
“IS CALLING HIM A DEMOCRAT DISRESPECTING HIM?”
“No,” I said. “I’m sure he’s proud to be called a democrat.” But don’t you EVER go calling ME that!
Now, when discussing an issue such as this with one so young, I guess you can put things in such simple terms. It is more complex than that though. I was raised to believe that the OFFICE OF PRESIDENT is something greater than simply the man who currently holds that office, and that the office deserves honor and respect. I was a youth when Bill Clinton held that office. It was very difficult for many people to respect this man as a person. It was in the context of his presidency that I was taught this principle. I currently find it difficult to respect many of the things Barack Obama has done, whether they be since taking office, during his campaign, or before. I can reasonably assume that he is a decent person with good intentions. I reject the ideology that he espouses. I think that much of what he has proposed and some things he has already set in motion will harm our country and change it in ways that are not good. That said, HE DESERVES THE RESPECT THAT THE OFFICE DEMANDS.
I do not think it is disrespectful to disagree.
The despicable personal character attacks that George W. Bush endured with grace throughout his presidency are an example of disrespecting the office, in my opinion. Calling him a murderer, advocating his assassination, embracing and perpetrating blatant lies about him, and tearing down his family are examples of crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Disagreeing with his policies…fine. Calling him out when you think he’s made a mistake…fine. And the same standard applies to our current president. It seems that many of his supporters though, as well as most of the media, are promoting the idea that just disagreeing with President Obama is somehow disrespectful and to be condemned. It seems that many think a different standard should apply to him. I disagree.
As Americans we should ALL stand up and defend our president when he is attacked by other counties or citizens of those countries.
An attack on our president is an attack on our country…an attack on us all.
There are many in our nation who do not understand this apparently. Remember the infamous shoe incident? Just check out the comments here. It is disgraceful that any American would celebrate such an attack on their president, no matter who that man may be. I will continue to respect this sacred office, as I always have. I will also continue to engage in the DEBATE OF IDEAS that is an important and innate part of being an American.
As a side note, I find it ironic that the very people who now call for unity and healing engaged in this on President Bush’s last day in office. How sad that a man who so tirelessly served his country for eight years at such an immense personal sacrifice has been treated in such a disgusting manner. There are many things I wish he had not done and many things I wish he had done. I most certainly did not agree with him or his actions all of the time. But I will forever be grateful for the service he has rendered our nation, and thus me.