The other day the owner of the restaurant that shares the same, call it alley space as my bike shop pulled up in his SUV and got out. He was on his way to open up for the lunch crowd. Usually we just exchange how ya doin's and get on with our own business. This day he walked over and leaned on the work table I have out back.
"Well Mike, "your President" sure has gotten us into a mess."
I have been trying very hard lately to stifle my political urges. And I have been for the most part fairly successful. But his use of the term "your President" pushed just the right buttons.
I stopped soaping up the filthy bike I was in the middle of cleaning and looked at this huge ex-body builder for a moment before responding. I have never been intimidated by his size, but I did not want to strain the uneasy truce we had established over the past couple of years he had been owner of the old Luigi's. Getting along with the neighbors and all that.
Finally I looked at him and said, "Unless you're a furriner, he's "your President" too. You ain't a furriner are you?"
His eyes opened wider and he said, "I didn't vote for him. He ain't my president."
I proceeded to lay into him about the stupidity of the partisan crap his denial represented. I managed to do it a nice way and he did not crush my head between his huge hands. He went about his business. I went back to washing the bike.
One of the reasons I have been trying hard to not get sucked into political debate in recent months is frankly I am fed up with this national tendency to try and force all of us to pick sides. I have never felt comfortable standing on the Right nor standing on the Left. I am a fence sitter and not ashamed to admit it. I have become used to being denigrated by both sides for my lack of backbone in this regard. I often leave people scratching their heads when I come from the Right on an issue and baffle some on the Right when I jump all over their tendency to drink kool aid before asking what the flavor is. Both sides have their pluses. Both sides have their negatives. And right now I have a negative view of both. I share my disdain for both sides equally.
But when someone claims to be a supporter of the idea of the democratic process and then denies the result because it did not go their way, it really pisses me off. When Bush was president, even though I did not vote for him either time, I did not try to use some cop out excuse like "He is not my President, I did not vote for him."
He was my president. I did not like it, but I sucked it up and dealt with the reality. Because no matter how much I may disagree with one side or the other, when we elect someone to represent us, I have to hope that representative is more concerned with the general welfare of all their constituency. Unfortunately in recent years, this has not been the case. Both the Right and the Left have decided to field candidates who seem to think of party first and the nation, state, or local burg second. Recent events nationally and in my small town have proven this out.
Our political atmosphere in this country has become poisoned. Toxic rhetoric from the extremes of both sides have found their way into the national platforms and our nation is now gasping for air. We have lost our direction and now fill our time with senseless infighting that only slows down and cripples our efforts to grow as a nation.