Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Independent thinking

You might wonder why Obama doesn't wear a flag pin on his lapel. Honestly, I've never been one to do something "just because everyone else is." Ever since 9/11 I've wondered how long it would be before it would be OK for a politician to skip wearing the pin in public. Here it is, almost 7-years later, and I guess the answer at this point is "not yet" (see CNN article here for Karl Rove's view).

Sure, it's a nice gesture, but I really don't think this can be a measure of one's patriotism. Karl Rove would like you to think this is arrogance on Obama's part. Maybe it is. But, on the other had, if Obama were the type of politician who would do ANYTHING to get your vote (like the folks Rove is used to working for), there's no doubt in my mind that he would be wearing that pin. Instead, he says the following:

In early October, an Iowa reporter asked Obama why he was not wearing a flag pin on his lapel, as many politicians do. The Illinois senator said he wore one shortly after 9/11, but later decided to show his patriotism in other ways.
"After a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic,” he said then. “My attitude is that I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve."

Maybe this is arrogance. Maybe he is just stubborn. Or, maybe he just thinks its more important to demonstrate independent thinking. But, you can't refute that "the easy thing to do" is to wear the pin lest you annoy a few voters. Yet Obama doesn't do that in this case. Sure, it's a simple situation, but what can that tell us about his decision making process when it comes time to make a call on something that might be unpopular in the short-run but better for us all in the long run?

As kids, when our parents asked us why we did something stupid we might attempt to explain it away by saying "cause Billy told me to." Our parents would follow by saying, "Well if Billy told you to jump off a bridge, would you do that too?" Of course we would answer "Noooo." Parents want independent thinking from kids. Shouldn't we demand that of our our politicians as well?

For my money, I want the politican who is willing to go against Billy on issues big and small. I especially want a politician who is willing to make decisions that could be bad for themself but good for us. If Obama can do it here, when the risk is some lost votes (e.g. maybe bad for him) with no real potental for gain on his part, maybe, just maybe, he will exhibit those same independent thinking skills when it comes time for an important decision, like passing a law that could annoy some PAC. Oh wait...Obama doesn't take money from PACS (that's a BLOG for another day). But you get my point.

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1 comment:

Ann Marie said...

You have expressed my sentiments exactly. Anybody can wear a lapel pin. It takes real courage not to follow the crowd. Wearing a pin (at least if you're a campaigning politician) has nothing to do with being patriotic or not being patriotic. It's just getting votes.