Opinion: United we bicker, united we celebrate

Bruce Walton

Bruce Walton

Bruce Walton is a sophomore news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

On Thursday, my heart was warmed when I saw all the living presidents — Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — attend George W. Bush’s dedication to the George W. Bush Library in Dallas. Amid all the partisan squabbling, the filibusters and political gridlock that’s basically crippling our government, it’s good to see that our presidents are all able to come together, showing that our national bond as Americans is stronger than our individual bonds as liberals or conservatives. Of course, I was then appalled when I saw people protesting the dedication ceremony.

Not many can say they loved the Bush administration; I know I didn’t. Growing up, I was very politically conscious of Bush’s decisions for America and overseas. But even then, I knew Bush wasn’t a bad person. In fact, I knew he meant well for the interest of America, like any other president. I did not agree with the decisions that he made, and I mostly blame Karl Rove for the mistakes the Bush administration had made (though Bush is still not completely innocent). Economically, it was terrible; many other countries perceived our worldview as villainous, and we all know what happened with our wars.

Still, Bush was elected and re-elected, and that makes him as important as any other leader we’ve had. In my opinion, the Republican Party as a whole is not yet ready to lead again with its agenda, and its base of constituents is not yet organized to act as one. I can say the same for Democrats. Regardless of our opinions, however, we are all Americans and should respect our political rivals, no matter what.

But then I looked into the story about the protesters. There were less than 50 protesters there, and they weren’t just attacking Bush; they were attacking Bush and Obama. According to a Huffington Post article, “Individuals in the group were holding up signs that included phrases like, ‘Obama and Bush commit war crimes’ and ‘What about Begazi [sic]?’”

It was true that America had committed crimes against other nations (what’s new?), and I do feel Obama’s drone strikes may be his “weapons of mass destruction” moment, but I still respect both of them and probably wouldn’t have protested. We should point out our leaders’ bad decisions, but not during a ceremony. There is a time for respect and a time for social movements.

But this was even better than I imagined; not only were there Republicans and Democrats united in celebrating Bush, but there were also Democrats and Republicans protesting Bush and Obama. So it just goes to show that even though we hate each other, we are all still Americans; we laugh together and we fight together. Maybe the party lines aren’t so thick after all.