In the midst of the joy and acclamation over the recent events in Washington, I am finding the inner resources that enable forbearance wearing a little thin. I choose to assume that those who are causing my pain would welcome clarification so they could refrain if possible. Therefore, I would like to propose some reciprocal understandings in the interest of preserving mutual charity and respect during the next four years.
- I am glad that you are rejoicing over the election and inauguration of Barack Obama. I will refrain from verbally raining on your parade, even though I do not share your joy and optimism. This does not mean I share your views, but I respect them. I would appreciate your exercising similar consideration by refraining from speaking as if yours is the only legitimate point of view. It is not necessarily true that every individual with (a) a heart not made of stone, or (b) the brains God gave a goat will see it your way.
- Yes, I am happy that the United States of America has come to the point that a black man (or woman) can be elected to the highest office of the land. I do not, however, consider that this accomplishment necessarily implies that the electorate was on the side of the angels. (We could have gotten there much more quickly if we had accepted the offer of service tendered by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and we know how that turned out.) I extend President Obama the respect that I would extend to anyone -- I will evaluate his presidency by his performance. I will judge him, not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.
- I have, from time to time, been accused of not wishing our new president well. "I bet you're hoping he fails!" is among the remarks I have heard.
Well, that depends. Do I want him to discharge the duties of the office ably, responsibly, in a way worthy of respect? Yes. Do I want America to thrive under him? Yes. Am I hoping for a disaster that can be laid at his feet so I can say, "I told you so?" Not at all.
But do I want him to successfully implement many of the things that his statements and his record indicate that he will pursue? By no means. This is called "having a different opinion." It's okay, really.
- I would appreciate your respect in return. There were two reasons I declined to vote for him, both arrived at after careful consideration: (1) I am not confident that he has the character, presence, experience and abilities to meet the challenges of the presidency in the 21st century; and (2) I believe that many of the things he will try to accomplish, together with the goals of the interest groups to which he is beholden, would be contrary to the best interests of the United States. You came to a different conclusion. Welcome to America. This country was founded precisely so that we could do business this way.