Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, got her group into a lot of trouble in 2003 when she loudly, publicly and internationally declared that she was ashamed that President George W Bush was from Texas.
She was not happy with the policies of President Bush, so she proclaimed her dissatisfaction from the bully pulpit of her London concert stage. The result: she insulted a great percentage of Americans, including a whole bunch of the Country radio community. Those Country radio listeners expressed their unhappiness quickly and loudly … and within hours, you did not hear very much Dixie Chicks music on Country radio stations.
There was a public debate on Ms. Maines’ right to free speech, which she lustily engaged in for many months. Free speech was never in question; I support her right to express her opinion 100%. I also support the right of the listeners of Country radio to say that they don’t want to listen to her music. Free speech won, but the way we view our President was tarnished.
In 2006, Maines also retracted her earlier apology to President Bush, stating, “I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.” This appears to be Maines’ final position: that President George W Bush was not owed any respect whatsoever.
Other entertainers jumped on the bandwagon, by the way … Julia Roberts and Carlos Santana are both quoted as saying that “W” was “not my President.” That began a whole slew of back & forth partisanship about who was, or wasn’t, or wouldn’t be, “my president.” That inflammatory rhetoric continues to this day (buy a t-shirt! buy a bumper sticker!). And as celebrities and politicians feed the media escalating and bombastic rhetoric, we are left with an emotionally exhausted society that believes the end of the world will come if their candidate does not win.
When you wholly invest yourself into the political process, you run the risk of losing track of your values when your candidate does — or does not — prevail. If your candidate wins, you may feel you can dictate “how it’s going to be” to everyone else. If your candidate loses, you may feel disenfranchised from your government. You may feel you have no hope. Such is not the case: the strength of our country is based on the balance between the three branches of government, and we believe that balance will save our republic, come what may. And we have been proven right through civil war, world war, assassination, economic turmoil and social upheaval.
Let me tell you about my President.
He is, first and foremost, the defender of the Constitution. He swears to protect the Constitution when he takes the oath of office. He will do whatever it takes for the United States of America to survive. To thrive.
He is the Commander-in-Chief, and directs our armed forces. Hopefully, he will use them sparingly. But he will use them to protect American interests here and abroad.
He is the head of one entire branch of our government: the executive branch. He is the face of America to the world.
These days, it seems that he must be a referee, as he attempts to balance the odious extremities of both parties and work with the Congress to craft the laws that govern our nation. Today’s rhetoric is not the most spiteful in our country’s history (Lincoln was denounced as a “military dictator … grasping at the power of a despot,” for example. ), but today’s political statements are certainly the most insulting and divisive in the memory of most Americans.
I regret that today’s citizens believe they must speak in an extreme fashion in order to be heard.
I regret that today’s presidential candidates feel they must spin their opponent’s statements and implications into a twisted version of “truth” that has little to do with the original statement’s intent. And many journalists are eager to feed the monster and escalate the statements even more with screaming headlines proclaiming the other guy a liar, an idiot … well, you’ve seen the headlines. They look the same to me, whether you’re reading the Huffington Post or the New York Times, Newsmax or the Drudge Report.
I know that I’ll disagree with our next President on many issues. That’s not really news: I disagree with everyone, including myself, sometimes. Disagreement is not the same thing as discourtesy. Or defamation. Or destruction.
I don’t know who’s going to win the election on Tuesday. But, I can tell you this: he will be my president.