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President Barack Obama. Three months ago that phrase would have sent a cold chill down my spine. Now it has a nice ring to it. Such is politics.
In his much-anticipated inaugural address, our new commander-in-chief proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” Mindful that some in the crowd no doubt voted for the man he vanquished on Nov. 4, the president urged “unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”
I could not agree more. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, the time has come to rally around the former senator from Illinois. He is our president now.
To many Republicans, such a statement will seem treasonous, as if their primary loyalty should be to the Republican Party, and they should wish every Democratic elected official failure, ruin and disgrace. Indeed, it is common to find on conservative blogs something like this: “I can’t wait for Obama to screw this country up, because when he does, then everyone will realize their mistake and put Republicans back in power!”
What is left of George Washington would be rolling in his grave. He feared political parties for that exact reason. When people become Republicans or Democrats first and Americans second, they forget the purpose of government is to serve the people, not provide power to their political factions.
Radical Democrats were guilty of this when they salivated over every failure in Iraq because the political damage it did to President Bush was oh-so-sweet. That fanatical Republicans are prepared to rejoice over the possible failure of President Obama’s policies is equally inexcusable.
This does not mean that everyone should become a liberal and agree with Obama’s ideology; I certainly won’t. It is the duty of the Republican Party, as the opposition, to point out the new president’s mistakes and offer a competing vision for how America should be run. Yet it would be a horrible betrayal of every soldier who died for this country to hope for failure just to prove the other guy wrong.
As a conservative, I don’t think Obama’s massive new government spending will fix the economy. But I hope it does. I think some of his foreign policy will be a disaster. But I hope it isn’t. Better for my ideology to be proved false than my country brought to its knees.
There are more important things than scoring political points. At heart, we are all Americans, and we all want our country to be safe, prosperous and secure, though we may think that is best achieved through differing means. If President Obama and the Democrats can deliver it, they deserve to be re-elected. If not, Republicans will be waiting.
In the meantime, self-respecting adults should do away with the childish “not my president” nonsense that characterized the last eight years. I voted against Obama, but I’ll claim him any day.
Our new president has shown himself so far to be an even-tempered executive who has ignored the lunatic fringe of his party and charted as centrist of a course as is possible for a liberal Democrat. He should be judged by the results of his decisions, which, hopefully, will be good ones.
To appreciate the call to bipartisanship in President Obama’s first inaugural address, it helps to remember Ronald Reagan’s second, when he said, “Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause.”
So, from a conservative Republican, it is time for all Americans to come together and wish our new president the best. Hail to the Chief.