Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Most Hated President

I have struggled to post these past few months.  Sure, with the holidays and working a second job again, my time is limited.  But limited time to write has always been part of my day and it didn't interfere in the past.  A bit of sadness pervades my psyche since the passing of my father in December, but life's experiences, the highs and the lows, are generally good fodder for the creative process.  My current theory is that it is due to post presidential election doldrums.  The debates, the sound bites, the crazy political ads, the apathy of the electorate, the ever widening range of opinion as displayed by the far right and far left, provided a treasure trove of blog topics.  Also, perhaps, the fact that we had an election, America spoke, yet our elected officials in Washington seemed to have not heard, or continue to ignore us is adding to my lack of inspiration.  Hopefully, I will emerge from this lethargy soon, as I am sure my "audience" hopes as well.

Speaking of audience, and despite the lack of interest in and reduced quantity of my recent posts, my blog has been getting "hits" at a remarkable pace this month.  In particular, my post from last August, Back to the Future, has skyrocketed into the top 5 of my most read posts.  It appears much of the renewed interest in this post is from foreign lands.  Last month a bunch of people in France accessed this post and this month Sweden seems to have discovered it.  So, for the first time I will provide a link within a post to access a post that is being read, dare I say it, around the world.

With no real research or discussions with historians, I have concluded after reading the current issue of Smithsonian, that the most hated president in our brief history was, drum roll please, Abraham Lincoln.  See link below.   

We all know that President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.  But what do we know about the ongoing plots to kill him that preceded that successful attempt?  The article above details an assassination plot targeting Lincoln before he took office after winning the election of 1860.  I will leave the telling of the story to the fine writer from the Smithsonian.  What really struck me was the level of hatred that emanated from many Americans, especially those with Southern viewpoints.  This animosity was so prevalent that the writer describes scenes in public places where discussions about killing Lincoln could be discerned without much effort.  Now, of course, Lincoln is considered one of our greatest presidents, his likeness enshrined on our currency and Mt. Rushmore.  It is certainly interesting how, at the end of the day, history and time are the best judges of the stature and rightness of our elected officials.

For those of you who may have suspected that this post would be about our current president, there is certainly a link.  I read recently that the number of death threats received by the president and his family is up three fold from the previous president.  Clearly, the perspective that Lincoln would eventually free the slaves was a huge factor in the level of dislike that the South had for him.  Imagine, a culture where those of dark skin were nothing more than a tool for working the fields, caring for the livestock, and cooking meals.  Possessions to be bought and sold like horses or hay.  Now imagine the outrage of those who truly believed in this state of man, even perhaps thought it was God's will, who are now faced with the very real possibility that a directive from Washington, a place much further away geographically as well as culturally in those days, might order those possessions to be set free.  IT CAN'T BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN, would certainly be their only reaction.

We have come a long way since those days.  African Americans fill important roles in our business community, spiritual hallways, and, obviously our political chambers.  But there is still an undercurrent of hatred for this "colored man" who dares to tell us what to do.  It has been demonstrated in the disrespect exhibited by certain GOP Congressmen and it is spewed daily on our public air waves. 

It seems especially transparent in the area of gun control.  Since Obama took office, the amount of guns and ammunition sold in this country is unbelievable.  In some munitions companies, even a third shift hasn't provided the labor to keep up with demand.  Paradoxically, this increase has, in some cases, worked to limit/delay access to guns due to a back order situation.  Much of this renewed sense of arming oneself begins as a reasonable distrust for the government, but then blooms into a full blown paranoia that the government, the United States government, is anti-people and anti-Constitution. For some, especially those only a generation or two from descendants that believed in the separation of the races, this perspective is all the more easily embraced with a black president in office.  The fact that there has been no suggested policies or alterations to the 2nd Amendment at any time by the Obama Administration does not matter to those who constantly beat the drum of fear that law abiding citizens will lose their right to own a gun if Obama has his way.  For some this drum beat means big profits.  For others a growing organization which means a stronger lobby.  

In a previous blog I posed the ridiculous notion that some of the more extreme gun enthusiasts are preparing for the day when zombies come down their driveway to steal their food and children.  Unfortunately, some believe it will be armies of black men doing the bidding of their black president that will be coming for them. 

The good news is that I continue to have high hopes for both my president and my country.  Obama is now, finally, actively engaged in our generation's civil rights fight, to grant the same rights and privileges to our gay and lesbian citizens while recent victories at the polls show that the populace is also moving forward.  Additionally, providing access to health care insurance continues to be a priority of the Obama Presidency.  While there are many GOP governors who refuse to do the right thing for their constituents, as everyday Americans realize that they do not have to choose between bankruptcy and dying, between health insurance industry profits and necessary health services, I feel confident that we will realize the importance of the richest nation on earth being known, not for the number of its citizens without insurance coverage, but for the strength demonstrated by its leaders and populace to make health care insurance for all a priority.
History may show that President Obama was one of the most hated presidents of all time.  More importantly, we should all hope as Americans, that, like Lincoln, history also reveals him to be one of our best as well.     

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