NOTE: This article was published originally in 2009, shortly after the election of Barack Obama as President of the U.S. It was topical then, but may hold insight that is pertinent today.
I am old enough to remember the presidential election in 1960. Don’t groan, or send the paramedics, (smart-aleck kids). Yes, I remember exactly where I was when I learned that President Kennedy had been shot. It was one of the most terrible moments in my life. I wish that words could convey the feeling so that you could experience it, too. But, that’s a different story.
The morning after the election on that November day in 1960, as a bright-eyed middle school (we called it Junior High back then) student, I asked Mom over breakfast, “Who won?” Her answer was frustrating, “We don’t know yet.” It was all the talk at school that day. And, we wouldn’t learn the winner for a couple more days. When the results finally came, I was disappointed. Our family had rooted for Richard Nixon. He lost and I was uncertain about how to react.
Mom passed some insight at that time which I carry to this very day. “Kennedy isn’t the guy we wanted. But, he is our President. It is our responsibility as Americans to stand behind him. The world must know that Americans may argue and scrap among ourselves at election time. But, when it’s over, we stand together as a single people.” Those were words of incredible wisdom.
A JUMP INTO THE FUTURE
In 2008, I worked hard – as never before for any presidential candidate. But, it wasn’t for Candidate Obama. I made phone calls. I knocked on doors. I worked at the polls. Yet, when it was over, my guy had lost.
In the ensuing days, there was much grumbling from the losing camp about how they would endeavor to stop, to roadblock, to capitalize on the weaknesses of the new president and do anything they could to bring about his downfall. How sad. I had a great teacher some 48 years before. And, I remembered the lesson. Where and when possible, I shared that lesson with my fellow Americans.
If our President fails, then we fail with him. There is little chance I will agree with him on much. The likelihood that I would ever vote for him is even less likely. But, he is our President. I will stand with him as an American. No more. No less. Just an American. And, anyone who is thinking of attacking or harming him better think twice. Not on my watch, you won’t. I’ve lived through that once in my lifetime.
ANOTHER LESSON FROM A DIFFERENT ERA
In the early 1970s, I had become disenchanted with the elected leaders of the community where I lived in Michigan. The reasons are not important here. I started going to council meetings. I became the president of the homeowners’ association. I became very vocal (I know, it’s hard to imagine me in that role). I worked on a couple of political campaigns, even running one. It was fun. I felt involved, engaged and truly part of the American experience.
Then, one night at a gathering of our political group, I was asked to run for office. I was hesitant. They promised to help once I got into office (I should have known better). I agreed to place my name on the ballot. I won.
It took about two months in office for the lights to come on in my head. Running a campaign was vastly different than being in office. “What have I gotten myself into,” I wondered almost daily. “Where are the folks who said they would help?”
I knew very early on that I did not have skin thick enough for public office. I recognized that it was not fun. If it’s done well, being a public official is very hard work. And, no matter how good a job I tried to do, there was someone waiting to call me an ass**** for whatever I had accomplished. I realized that this was not the place for me. Yet, I admired those who could trudge on and remain motivated.
From then on, I was much less likely to chastise an elected official because I had shared their experience. I came to believe that most people in public office WANT to do a good job. They want to do what is best for everyone. Some simply don’t understand the situation or they lack all of the facts needed to reach solid decisions.
I continue to believe that most officials have good intentions – at least at the outset of their term.
THE LAST LESSON
Jimmy Carter was elected as President in 1976. He’s a fine man. He has demonstrated his concern for the wellbeing of others over time. The country was nauseated with dishonesty and corrupt leadership prior to his arrival on the scene. We wanted a clean, fresh start. We wanted someone who was not tainted with the stains of the past. We wanted a bright smiling face who could give us hope.
But, when it came to being President, the job and the Washington machine rolled right over the top of him. He was hopelessly overrun, swamped, over his head and outside his league. He wanted to do well, but lacked the wherewithal to get the job done.
I didn’t think that could happen. Not in America. We’re the greatest, most powerful country of the planet. That kind of mistake could not happen here. But, it did.
THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW HISTORY
Those who don’t know history’s lessons are bound to repeat its mistakes. We did it again. We didn’t learn.
2008 brought a whole new era where our new President said he planned to, “fundamentally change” America.
Again, we had a President for whom I did not vote. Yet, I supported him because: he was our President. We stood together. That’s how it is done here in America. Running elections is a whole lot different than sitting on the hot seat holding the office. I believe that a person must actually go through the experience to grasp how profoundly difficult and overwhelming it can be.
I looked around the landscape. Barack was at the helm. We were yet engaged in wars on two fronts. We had an economy that was in trouble. It was slowly climbing out of a terrible recession. The country’s finances were a disaster – and that’s a compliment.
I saw the man in the center. He was our President. I wanted him to succeed because, if he succeeded, I got to share the ride. He was elected because of the people’s desire for, “Change We Can Believe In.” He wanted to do well, in his gut. However, he too was hopelessly over his head.
Prior to inauguration day, Mr. Obama had just 200 days of experience handling the Washington machine, as a junior senator. He probably hadn’t learned where all of the men’s rooms were located in the Capitol when he became President. He didn’t know his way around Washington, either literally or figuratively when he took the job of running the place. We should have known better.
I want to see the best in all people. He truly wanted to do well. I think he made some decisions that were good; more that were not so much. The trouble was that he was just too darned new at this to be in charge.
His knee-jerk reactions, lack of focus, changes in positions, ongoing contradictions of himself along with other dumb moves gave him away. His lack of experience rang like a bell in a firehouse when he ordered the Justice Department’s Eric Holder to file suit against the State of Arizona for enforcing immigration laws. He either never read the tenth amendment, or he forgot what it says. Some of the mistakes of inexperienced youth just cannot be covered.
It’s like an 18 year old college freshman trying to use fake ID to get into the local drinking hole. You just know that it’s not going to work.
To be clear: I wanted him to succeed. Because we all have succeeded with him. When the time came to vote, I voted for his opponent. I thank him for trying. But, as a wise sergeant once said to me, we don’t get judged for our level of activity; we are judged for our results.
Today, many of us are dealing with people who cannot cope with the fact that their candidate lost the election last November. Sadly, they had no one in their lives to teach them about what to do following each election: lick your wounds and then we gather together as one people: WE are AMERICANS.
Losers (excuse the term) will get another chance when the next election comes around.
As cops, it becomes our duty to handle those who turn to violence and other illegal acts to put their disappointment on display. WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE LAW, these kind folks need to have their collective asses kicked. Theirs is an effort to destroy our way of life and the Constitution which you and I have sworn to defend with our lives from all comers – whether the source is domestic or foreign.
Said bluntly, lawbreaking protesters are no different than terrorists, Communists, Nazis and others who have made it their stated desire: destroy the U.S. and our way of life. It is job to take them out, thus protecting the good citizens of our nation.
That’s my .02 worth. Your mileage may vary.
At the bottom line, CopBlue is dedicated to saving just ONE life.
This article is from the CopBlue Vault and was originally published in 2009.
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