I'm slightly peeved about something happening today...
President Barrack Obama addresses the school children in our nation in a broadcast meant exclusively for them. It is unprecedented in our history. But believe it or not, that's not what has me chapped today...although I have a very strong opinions about the address which I will get to en un momento (broadening horizons, just go with it).
On the way to school this morning, the teenager reminded me about the event and explained to me that the school had sent forms home for parents to sign if they didn't want their children present for the address.
She went on to state several of her friends were bragging on MySpace and Facebook about getting out of it because their parents had signed the paper.
Teenager: I know you weren't for Obama, but I really don't mind sitting and listening.
Tony C: No, I wasn't for Obama, but he is our President now and deserves the respect that goes with holding the office. That's what being in a democracy is all about. We have elections, one side wins and one side loses...but we're all still on the same team as Americans.
Teenager: Why do people hate him so much? I just don't get why it has to be so ugly. One kid still wears his McCain shirt to school at least once a week.
Tony C: And he has every right to do so. I want you to go, listen, and be respectful. See what you can learn from what he says.
Teenager: My teacher in that period is all about Obama. She should be happy about it.
Tony C: Be respectful! Like I said, there's always a winning side and a losing side.
Teenager: Are we Republicans?
Tony C: I don't know what 'we' are, you must determine for yourself what you stand for politically when the time comes for you to vote. The most important thing to remember is never vote for something or someone just because that's the way I feel. You're a smart kid, so form your own opinion on things.
Teenager: But you always say it goes God, family and country in that order of importance. Shouldn't family stick together?
Tony C (chuckling): That's a great question! Unfortunately, it's also a very complicated question. Let me say this for now. I want you to learn, grow and think for yourself. If your opinions happen not to agree with mine, I will still love you...no matter what.
Teenager: I hate politics. It's just a bunch of arguing.
Tony C: I know. But, politics is a controlling force that determines how you live... today and in your future.
Teenager: Whatever...I just don't get it.
Our conversation was occasionally interrupted with the cry of 'juice!' coming from the two-year old car seated in the back and obviously bored, but still the teenager was attentive and engaged...and I was encouraged by her participation. She really wanted to know what the big deal was about President Obama speaking to school kids. When she got out of the car and headed into the school, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of frustration. What just happened? Why did it happen? How did we get to the point of such divisiveness in our country?
I could easily blame either or both political parties for polarizing our country to the point of discord, but personally I think the problem originates from a much craftier culprit...I believe friction between factions is whipped up by the news media. It would be impossible to effectively govern a country split down the middle politically without accepting disagreements. Agreeing to disagree. Bipartisanship is paramount if anything is to be accomplished by elected politicians. Bipartisanship doesn't, however, fuel the advertising needs of the press. Dissension and confrontation sell newspapers...not concurrence and compromise.
To me, the problem isn't the President of the United States addressing the nation's young people...I guess I can live with that. The real problem is more fundamental in my mind. Why does the federal government have any say whatsoever in our local education systems? There's absolutely no constitutional authority giving them the power to do so. How did we let that happen?
The Department of Education was formed under the Carter Administration. Ronald Reagan campaigned on the promise to abolish the department if elected, but found doing so with a Democrat-controlled Congress impossible. Still, the Republicans have had there moment in complete control, yet the department continued to grow and issue mandates to local school systems (remember No Child Left Behind).
So, I'll conclude with this thought. If you have fallen victim to the rabble-rousing fueled by our country's for-profit media sources to the point of total partisanship no matter what...blame yourself...while the media executives laugh all the way to the bank. Our young people need to be taught to respect public institutions regardless of occupant, especially the posts of President, Congress and Supreme Court Justices. What happened to the concept of civic obligation?
Just keep it constitutional please...