Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thoughts in the Shadow of the Capitol

I found myself literally in the shadow of the Capitol a few days ago. Admittedly, I’m always a little awed by the building… both by its architecture and by everything it represents. The crowds always appear on the west side, so I wandered around to the east side where there were very few people. Away from the chaos of tour bus drop-offs and repeated photo ops, and literally in the shadow, I was left to ponder politics.

It’s been nine months since the inauguration, and it’s been a wild ride. The president’s popularity has fallen. He seems to revel in campaign-style speeches, but the campaigning is long over and it’s time to do the heavy lifting.

During the debates about health care reform in the town-hall meetings over the summer, far too many people were effectively told to “sit down and shut up.” Okay, not always in so many words, but disagreements with proposed reform made that message clear. People are angry… as were our Founding Fathers. And those men didn’t sit down and shut up. Even Jefferson and Adams agreed to disagree. So should we.

The ongoing tea parties epitomize what those early American heroes stood for and believed in. Now the opposition suggests they’re staged… they’re not being attended by Americans who simply want to make a public statement,,, who want to take their government back from the grasp of too many politicians… who want to stand against big government.

And if there were ever two words sewn together in a sentence that will capture the current climate, they would be, “You lie.” I don’t personally know Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Representative who yelled those words during the president’s speech to Congress when Obama stated that illegal aliens would not be eligible for health care benefits, but I suspect he’s an upstanding guy who was angered to the point of blurting exactly what he thought. He rightfully apologized afterward.

But now it seems anyone who disagrees with the president is a racist. Or at least if any Caucasian citizens disagree, they’re deemed racists. I think we’ve all lost our collective minds. The right to disagree and speak your mind about your government is the very foundation of these United States. It’s exactly what Jefferson and Adams argued about time and time again nearly two hundred and forty years ago. So no offense Mr. President, but if I disagree with your policies and politics, I’ve got every right to speak out without being accused of harboring a white hood and robe in my closet. And I’m offended that a former president would make such a suggestion.

Wilson’s comment was disrespectful to the office of the president. Regardless of what you may think of the man, you must respect the office. I certainly agree with that; however, when the president appears on late night television imitating David Letterman, isn’t he adding some degree of disrespect to the very office he holds?

Just a passing thought while in the shadow of the Capitol.