This started out as a response to a local facebook group called “Suggestions for Your Politicians” but ended too long and as more of an essay. Being one of the few liberals in my part of the state, my ideas are generally quite oddly viewed at best.
I have not always voted Democrat. My favorite President is Abe Lincoln, and he was a Republican. Like most kids, I started out voting like my parents. In my first Presidential election, I voted for Gerald Ford! My father, an avid politics follower, voted for Jimmy Carter as governor of Georgia yet voted against him for President because of promises made and not kept to Georgia agriculture. I first voted Democrat for Dukakis in 1988 and have voted for all Democratic Presidential candidates since.
In party politics, I generally vote for policies and ideas over parties. I believe Democrat Zell Miller was the greatest Georgia ever, yet the Democrat who followed him was nothing like him, as different as the two Republicans that followed. There are certain issues, such as the right to quality education, women’s rights, and capital punishment, that I feel so deeply about that those ideas alone will change my mind on which way to cast my vote. I try to read as much as possible before elections, but in this amazing information age, it’s impossible to read it all nor really know which is the most reliable. (Within reason. Sorry, Fox News, but I’m not that dumb.) Before this Facebook page, I have never been active in spreading my political views whatsoever, and today I find myself wondering why in the heck I’m doing it now. Here’s the only reason I can find.
As a teacher I was not a good football fan for Calhoun High School, because they always won by ridiculous margins, and I always ended up feeling sorry for the other team. Everyone deserves someone one their side, that’s why those caught red-handed in cold-blooded murder deserve the right to an attorney and to have their side heard in court—a basic principle this country’s foundation. (An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.) I think I got involved here because no one would say anything positive, at least not to begin with.
I have never met Wes Roland and he is as conservative as I am liberal, but I think I would like to know him, be friends with him, have him live across the street because he is not beyond admitting that there can be good in both sides. This is a good page because local citizens of many beliefs can state their feelings and we all listen, whether or not we particularly agree. Some of you have changed my mind on a few things because of your understanding of the issues and willingness to explain, whereas others only “cheer on” the side of me that wants to see the underdog totally annihilate the big dog, just because you seem so relentlessly mean, like caricatures of everything we don’t want depicted when speaking of the south.
My dad was literally the smartest guy I ever knew- born to a dirt-poor family on Sand Mountain, Alabama, he was the first in his family to complete high school. He put himself through his first two years of college while sending money home to his family, served terms in both the Marines and the Navy, then came back to complete his schooling and go to work for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Later obtaining two additional masters degrees, he worked there for 30 years while also pursuing additional careers in farming and real estate. When he died, he was referred to as a “retired teacher, agricultural advocate, and entrepreneur.” He was also, admittedly, a bit of a racist.
As I grew older and broke away from voting the way of my parents, my dad and I had many conversations about this, and none of them were ugly or hurtful. I was in my 30’s when I realized I would never change the way my father felt, but that I could accept his beliefs as his own and not judge him. He was a product of the area from which he came and the events of a particular time I had not experienced. When I asked how he felt about my decisions to vote differently from him, he spoke with a wisdom that both surprised and delighted me.
“Your ideas shouldn’t be carbon copies of mine, Elaine,” he said. “That would mean that nothing had changed from my generation to yours, that we were simply standing still. You live in a different world than the one I grew up in, one I hope that’s better and will continue to be. I’m old and don’t have much need to get out in the world anymore, but you do. Someone carrying my visions would not do too well out there, things have changed while I was busy living life. We took you to church and sent you to school, but you made a life of your own in that world. I’m glad you’re not just like me, you’ll do better in the next century with your ideas than I would have with mine. We may see things differently, but if we raised you right, you’ll do what you think is right for your time and your world.”
I worry about the national debt, but it’s not something I stay awake nights over. I would like to thank the people on this page for reminding me to worry over it. I think about it several times a day now, and I have you guys to thank, for whatever that’s worth. Seriously, there is a “sister” facebook page here in Gordon County that I’ve started to avoid simply because it keeps me awake nights over things I can’t stop from happening: it’s the page about the ANIMAL SHELTER. I shed tears over unwanted kittens, but before you guys I didn’t think much about the national debt. (Okay, you’re right, there is seriously something wrong with me. And maybe I could make a difference at the shelter, if I simply got rid of my husband and brought all the kittens home with me. Oh well…)
I don’t claim to know all the answers or even any answers at all, but I do know that all this negativity isn’t helping us. I’m the first in line to make fun of George W. (come on, folks, he waved across the room at Stevie Wonder!) but I also realize he was/is much smarter than me. There has never been a U.S. President who wasn’t much smarter than me and most of the people I know. Look at what these men accomplished even before they came to the oval office and you’ll see impressive records of education, service, government, and their former careers. America may make some questionable choices at times, but we do not put idiots in the Presidency, and I’m pretty sure that insinuation is what makes me go ballistic on this page from time to time.
There’s a reason that our Presidents are called so from the time they take office until they die. We also refer to all U.S. Presidents with a capital “P.” It’s a matter of respect.
I know that throughout history, there have always been negative things said about all those in higher office, and it’s simply the nature of man. However, this is the first time in my life that it has felt like pure and simple hatred, and that’s something I can’t abide.
We wonder why kids don’t respect their parents, their teachers, law enforcement? I think it’s because they don’t see respect in action much anymore. It’s more popular to rant against those in authority, whatever that authority may be, than to respect a chain of command.
I’m not Catholic, but I get very upset with those who disrespect the Pope. I absolutely hate and abhor all professional sports, but I have no problem with other people liking them. My hate for barbaric games that I believe do nothing to improve mankind does not transfer over to the people who play those games, so you won’t see me making slurs about Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, or any of those wonderful athletes the world is so fond of— I respect them even though I care nothing for the games they play.
I don’t tear up or cry when I hear our national anthem, and it sometimes makes me feel bad that I don’t. (Probably a musician thing—I’ve had to teach it, play it, and direct it being sung at too many football games and became “immune.”) However, anytime I sit down and reread The Emancipation Proclamation, The Gettysburg Address, Kennedy’s Inauguration Speech, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and many others, I cry with pride and amazement at their beauty and power, and am overtly proud to live in this country. When I hear my current President speak to the nation, it reminds me of these things all over again.
You don’t have to like him, you don’t have to agree with him, and of course you don’t have to vote for him. But people are watching you—your peers, your friends, your internet contemporaries, and impressionable kids—your kids, grandkids, people who go in your businesses, visit the same places, live across the street. Do you want them to grow up with no barriers on their ability to disrespect others? What is happening to manners, common courtesy, and most of all RESPECT?
Barack Obama is the current President of the United States of America, with a capital “P.”
Show some respect, people.