Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?
Seems Jefferson and his administration would be more along the lines of, “Why is it important that our elected officials listen to us?” I’m fairly certain our third president would have sported one of those “Question Authority” bumper stickers on his carriage. He surely wouldn’t hang with the crowd that wants folks to just shut up and let the experts handle things, would he?
What do you think the president wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
Now don’t get me wrong. I think it is perfectly acceptable for a president to inspire people to do right, and in the context of school children that means study hard, treat your teachers and classmates with respect, don’t cheat, stay away from drugs, etc. I don’t have a sliver of an objection to any of that.
The thing is, I still remember the video of those children serenading then-Senator Obama (there was another one I can’t seem to find; I think it took place somewhere in California) and still think it looks an awful lot like something more closely associated with parts of the world I’m grateful not to live in. I also remember “the church you can’t see,” the Obama votive candles, the lamb of God T-shirts, the light-worker business, etc. In my own city, one elementary school staged an Obama victory rally after the election, with all the little sweethearts marching down city streets with signs and posters chanting “Yes, we can!”—at a cost to the taxpayers of some $700 for police to shut down traffic. At another local elementary school, I’ve heard they performed an Obama rap song that endorsed portions of his political platform. And in that context, my mental images of a popular, charismatic leader making a direct address to the nation’s children—after having discussed in class the importance of listening to civil authorities—are not, shall we say, encouraging.
What would you like to tell the president?
Thank you, Mr. President, for taking the time to address my daughter, Rebecca. She’s a great kid and a sharp student, and I’m sure she’ll do our country proud. But when you talk to her on Tuesday, please remind her that, in a democracy, dissent is the highest form of patriotism (your Secretary of State once said that), and that it is far more important for her to listen to her parents, teachers, and religious leaders than any elected official.
On second thought, Mr. President, thanks but no thanks. The more I think about this upcoming address, the less comfortable I am with it. It’s nothing against you personally, but some of your supporters don’t seem to understand that malleable young minds should not be used as tools for advancing a political agenda. And some of your detractors will not be as circumspect as I in expressing their reservations. I fear the whole thing will prove to be a recipe for hard feelings all around—and you need to be a uniter, not a divider.