Lately, I’ve noticed more and more bumper stickers claiming “Barack Obama is not my president.” Remember when similar stickers appeared in reference to the last administration, almost as soon as Bush was elected, in response to the decision surrounding the hanging chads?
At first, Not My President stickers made a point about a loophole in the U.S. voting system, in which a candidate could win the popular vote and still lose the presidency. Over the eight years of the Bush administration, Not My President morphed from a statement on a specific political circumstance about the controversy surrounding W’s election into a response to the War on Terror, environmental policy, the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and more.
Don’t like a political decision? Just say: Not My President.
But Not My President is not really democratic. There is no chance of bi-partisanship when the opposing party denies the legitimacy of the party in office.
Polarizing language continues to seep into the mainstream of American political rhetoric. In the words of Bill Moyers, our current political strategy is to “divide and polarize. It’s the cultural wars all over again. God, guns, gays, beliefs, prayer, empire.” Dissatisfaction and fear are the results. Instead of working together regardless of which party holds the presidency, the election of the other party’s candidate has become a license for four – or eight – years of complaining.
With the election of Barack Obama, I hoped for the quiet disappearance of Not My President stickers. Obama won both the popular and electoral votes and was, without question of legitimacy, the president of the United States. As the Healthcare Reform Act has passed and now President Obama is moving to regulate Wall Street, his approval ratings continue to decline. Millions of Americans are rallying for or against these reforms.
I’ll take the Tea Parties. I’ll take sit-ins and marches and rallies. For government-by-the-people to work, the citizenship must participate. Not My President just won’t cut it.
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