I experienced outrage when an older person would comment: "Well, all politicians are crooked. Nixon just got caught, that's all."
I knew that wasn't all. Nixon did embezzle funds, for sure. He and his men laundered illegal campaign funds, for sure. They engaged in political dirty tricks that went beyond the norm, for sure. And he even arranged to pay black mail money from the oval office, for sure.
All of these things are "crooked" although I can't believe they are all characteristic of every national politician we've ever had.
But what raised my ire then was the fact that Nixon, in addition to these other things, tried to undermine our constitution. Most people didn't get that. Our founding fathers put in place a system called checks and balances. Simply put, this means that each of the three major branches of our government can and should eyeball the other two branches, to make sure that no one person (or group of people) is trying to get above the law and subvert the system.
Essentially, after that traumatic song and dance with the Watergate scandal, I vowed that I would never get super torqued over politics again. I would watch and I would try to discern and I would vote but I would not waste a lot of emotional energy on it. I've kept that commitment and still am. You can say "Obama", "Romney", "deficit", and "taxes" and I will not froth at the mouth. Promise! (But probably best to avoid "Nixon" and "Watergate"... ha!)
Four years ago, I told my students - and I meant it - that either way the presidential election went, the American people would be making history. We would either put an African American in the White House or a female and either way, this would be one for the history books.
I love history. I taught it for almost 30 years.
Unlike politics, world history was something that I felt a person could "sink his teeth" into; I felt it gave a broad overview and never lacked for fascinating people to either boo and hiss or praise and emulate. I felt it was never boring (a sentiment my students, I admit, often didn't share :)
Politics, especially in America, to me was something that often nickled and dimed me to tears... Should we raise taxes, should we lower them? Do we pay off the deficit, do we not? In a two-party system, where a strong independent candidate could muddy the waters and throw off the outcome of the election - but never really win - I felt at times that our choice was between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Traditionally, both candidates during election time try their best to move towards the center in order to appeal to as many people as they can.
This is something President Obama did not do and I was somewhat shocked when he won. But not dismayed. It was time we started breaking barriers to the White House. The main thing that concerned me was his lack of experience. But he was clearly an intellectual and someone who could speak well -something not all of our past presidents could do...
His idealism, I felt, caused him to be naive when dealing with foreign policy at times and that did worry me.
Some of the things that he did made no sense to me. Sending the bust of Churchill back to England - why? It was a gift to the American people from one of our strongest allies. When I first heard that he had done this, I thought people were making it up in order to malign him. If I have to substitute in someone's office (and that is basically what the President does - he temporarily fills an office that ultimately belongs to the people) - I can hardly go in there, box up a gift that was given to the company by a business ally of well over a hundred years and send it back to them. Even if I don't like the ally, that's not my place.
But why would he want to insult our strongest, long-term ally?
When I heard during the campaign that the president had a campaign worker who was also his pastor who was also radically insulting towards America, I thought that people were exagerating in order to smear the presidential candidate. After seeing numerous tapes of this pastor's sermons, I realized they weren't but I still excused the presidential candidate - there must have been some other reason for sitting under such a radical, anti-American pastor.
But when I learned that he sat under this pastor for 20 years, I had to ask -why?
As one who loves internationals and also this nation - imperfect though it most certainly is- I can tell you that I wouldn't sit under a pastor who maligned other races for 20 minutes let alone twenty years... I would be out of there.
So why did President Obama sit under such radical, often hate-filled, preaching for 20 years? And then appoint this pastor to his campaign until he was forced to remove him because of bad press?
I think the film 2016 answers all of the questions above and many more.
This election really is not about race - as in if-you-don't-vote-for-President-Obama-you-are-a-racist -any more than the Watergate issue was about embezzlement and illegal campaign funds. The issues here are much deeper and go to the heart of our history and our constitution.
I would encourage everyone to watch the 2016 film while it is available on you tube. President Obama is not a demon or a terrible person. He just has a different world view -one that he is entitled to but one that should not be calling the shots in the oval office.
Whether a candidate likes our past or not, he should respect it. (And I don't know of any historian, myself included, who likes everything our nation has done in the past). Whether he agrees with our long-term allies or not, he shouldn't snub them. Definitely, he should make new ones if possible but not diss the ones who have proven their loyalty in the past. And whether he agrees with the political vetting process for advisers (i.e., choosing the members of his cabinet), he shouldn't get around that system by appointing czars who are accountable to him only.
Again, I would encourage you to watch the film 2016 - it's about an hour in length. The director clearly had an agenda but it wasn't a racist, hate-filled agenda. He wanted to understand what makes Obama tick and I think he does. If anything, the film made me feel sympathetic to the president while understanding for the first time: clearly this race is not about taxes, health-care, or the deficit. It's about ideology and where America will go from here under another four years of President Obama's leadership, should he be re-elected.