Most people seem to believe that respect is earned and not to be given blindly. While I believe this is true in terms of respecting someone for his or her specific decisions, actions, or opinions on controversial matters, we also should respect people of authority because of what they have accomplished and the importance of their position in society. Take teachers for example. They represent the authority figure in the classroom and if students pick and choose when to show respect, then it could lead to chaos in the classroom if some students disrespect some teachers while other students disrespect other teachers. The lack of respect makes educating young people that much more difficult.
Respecting the president would seem to be a no brainer. After all, Barack Obama is the 44th President of the U.S. Not many people have achieved that rare distinction. He should be respected because he holds that position. Whether we respect him for his policy decisions is another matter.
There have been at least three occasions where Obama’s character has come into question. First, some claimed he was ineligible to serve as president of the U.S. because he is not a naturalized citizen. Naturalization is required if a person was not born to two U.S. citizen parents. Obama’s father was of Indonesian descent. There is some dispute about how long Obama’s mother was a citizen and for how many years. Nevertheless, Obama was born in Hawaii making him a naturalized citizen under the 14th amendment, the same amendment, ironically, now being rightly used to contend that children of immigrant parents are naturalized citizens. In a poll taken by Public Policy Polling in August 2009, nearly one-quarter of Americans indicated that Obama was born outside the U.S. even though he has stated on many occasions that he is a U.S. citizen by birth.
The second issue of contention is whether President Obama vacationed too often during the summer months especially since there are so many people suffering in the down economy. No doubt, there are far too many people just trying to make ends meet but that doesn’t mean we should begrudge the Obama’s their vacation time. The way I look at it, President Obama was acting as a responsible father to his children and husband to his wife by taking these trips especially during the summer when his children were out of school. Compared to previous presidents, the Obama children are young and at an impressionable stage in their lives. Just like other children of their age, they need quality time with both parents and Michelle Obama needs to be able to spend quality time with her husband. It must be next to impossible to do this while carrying out the business of the presidency. President Obama is serving as a good role model for other parents and husbands in this regard.
Perhaps the most puzzling result comes from a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in August 2010 that showed nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Obama is a Muslim. That was up from 11 percent who said so in March 2009. The survey also showed that just 34 percent said Obama is Christian, down from 48 percent who said so last year. The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don't know his religion even though Obama has stated on many occasions that he is a Christian and worships in church on a regular basis. Why is it that so many Americans, especially the "talking heads" on radio and television, don’t believe what the President says on this matter? Whatever the reason it speaks volumes about the distrust of the American people in this President. However, I believe it reflects badly on the character of the American people that we won’t accept the President at his word. There is no valid reason to disbelieve what he says. It’s driven by the “I gotcha” approach to partisan politics that drives debate in today’s world. It seems to be more important to find something to attack someone on the other side of the spectrum rather than to respect and accept what a person says about a personal matter.