AT THE risk of sounding like I've been sucking on sour grapes for the past few days, let me say something that, for me at least, needs to be said:
We non-Obama voters shouldn't be bullied into supporting our new president.
Now that I've gotten your attention, allow me to explain.
It's become common since the election to hear people say "even if you didn't vote for him, even if you don't agree with his policies, we as Americans should all support Barack Obama." The implication: If we love this country, we want its leader to succeed. You know, the old "If we don't hang together, we shall all hang separately."
We all know how well that worked with George Bush, don't we? (In fact, haven't we had eight years of hearing that the highest form of patriotism is dissent?)
So it's one thing to wish President Obama well as a human being, to acknowledge the historic magnitude of his getting elected, to admire his sweet family and his mellifluent speaking voice and his prodigious brain.
But it's quite another to endorse his social, economic and national security policies if, in fact, you think they pose a serious threat to the fabric and essence of this country we all claim to love.
And that's where the bullying comes in. On Michael Smerconish's show earlier this week, a caller named "Ken" observed that anyone who didn't support this president had lost his grip, and pretty much accused critics of Obama as being unpatriotic.
Others have echoed those sentiments, reminding me of how exercised some critics of Sen. McCain were when conservatives accused them of being unpatriotic and dishonoring the military when they objected to his references to his POW days.
But regardless of who is doing the finger-wagging, it's pretty clear you can't tell someone to just shut up and get with the program if they actually don't like the program. Or if they think it's a blueprint for disaster. This is America, after all. Home of the Free. Land of the Critics.
So here is my promise to our new president. I will pray that he and his family continue to be happy and healthy. I'll assume that everything he does is undertaken in a good-faith effort to preserve, protect and defend these United States (even if the words got jumbled on Inauguration Day). I'll continue to honor the monumental significance of his elevation to the Oval Office, and be respectful of those who are uplifted by the words "President Barack Hussein Obama."
But I won't be pressured into being quiet when I see him straying off course, pushing this country in what I believe is the wrong direction. And if success means he'll challenge the fundamental nature of everything I believe in and cherish, I won't root for his success.
So I hope he fails in trying to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortion services. If he signs the Freedom of Choice Act as anticipated, it will severely limit the ability of those who oppose abortion on moral principles to avoid performing abortions themselves, or having to make referrals for the procedure. FOCA should actually be called "The Freedom to Impose My Choice on Others Act." I know Obama is an ardent abortion-rights advocate, but I hope he has the integrity to respect the religious beliefs of those who disagree with him.
And I hope he fails in intimidating employees to unionize. If Obama has his way, the Employee Freedom of Choice Act will become law, thereby eliminating the secret ballot (how un-American) that allows employees to decide whether they want to belong to a union.
Under EFCA, employees will be forced to publicly declare their vote. To replace the allegedly intimidating tactics of employers, we'll now be giving the same tactics to the unions. It would be sad and chilling if our new president condoned them.
AND HIGHEST on my wish list is that No. 44 fails in closing Guantanamo. It's become conventional to say it's a gulag and we have committed war crimes in its corridors. But just because the American Civil Liberties Union believes it, and just because a passel of liberal lawyers believe it's an embarrassment (with no definitive answer from the courts) doesn't mean it should be shut, particularly when no one has figured out what do with the "guests."
For eight years, many people insisted that they'd lost their country. They detested Bush, hated his politics and condemned his choices when they disagreed. Loudly.
Good for them. Now, it's my turn. God bless America. *
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer.