by David T. Bruce
America has been divided for some time in terms of political agendas and in respect to opinions governing in what direction our country should grow, with Republicans and Democrats (and their constituents) often reaching an impasse, accomplishing nothing. Yet the recent clash over President Obama’s scheduled address to school children is infantile at best, showing a lack of concern about issues that truly affect the nation as a whole.
I honestly doubt that the speech is an attempt to inject the federal government too far into public school business. No Child Left Behind was such an attempt (and on many levels, a failed attempt), and other than school faculty and administration, I do not hear or read of the general public being outraged about that dandy piece of legislation. In all likelihood, the opponents of the President’s address would say nothing, if the Commander-in-Chief were Republican, and vice-versa.
One woman interviewed by CNN stated that she is very scared to be in this country with the current leadership. Was the administration of the past two terms satisfactory? If so, then I am concerned about the population of this country who follow blindly, and I am equally concerned that a growing number of citizens are being spoon-fed their opinions from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck. The President is not forcing anyone to watch his address at school, any more than citizens are forced to watch an address at home.
Are students compelled to watch; are they a captive audience? Perhaps. Still, the Obama administration is making the speech available prior to the address for families to preview in advance. Doing so gives families the opportunity to discuss the speech and decide how the message relates to their values and beliefs. Damage control, for lack of a better term, may be initiated before the address. Making the speech available prior to the address also is a show of good intention by the administration, a gesture that seems intended to alleviate concerns that some socialist plot to brainwash our children is not happening without our knowledge.
Can we take the President at face value? I think we should try. Can we, for a moment, put our politics and biases aside, and imagine that a father of two daughters with the ability to positively affect the lives of all children might avail himself the opportunity? To those who would choose to raise hell over this one moment in time, please get a grip and get over yourselves. With the unemployment rate just shy of 10% and an economy knee-deep in recession, with a poverty rate at about 12% (according to 2007 statistics), and with over 15% of our population without health insurance coverage, our country is challenged with issues that affect us all far more than words of inspiration from of a man trying to put a positive spin on the future for our children.