NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 23, 2013

Washington, Obama and 'low-information' voters

“The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.”

— George Washington

I’d taken down my flagpole before the blizzard, since strong winds had snapped an earlier pole, was about to put it up again with my American flag for Presidents Day when I hesitated. Something seemed wrong.

I checked my old list of flag-flying days from the Disabled American Vets Foundation: It says to fly the flag on the third Monday in February, which it still calls Washington’s birthday; darn, I forgot to fly it on Lincoln’s birthday.

Oh wait, I know what’s bothering me: I’m thinking I should fly it upside down — help, Father of Our Country! Nation in distress! Or, worse, fly it at half-staff. If George Washington heard that the country he helped found has more than $16 trillion in national debt (not to mention some $70 trillion in the unfunded liabilities), he would roll over in his Mount Vernon grave.

But this thought brings me to another problem, which is, who cares? How many homes fly the flag on summer’s Independence Day, never mind in midwinter? Who cares what George Washington thought or said? Or even worse: Who was George Washington? (Did he sell cars?)

I think my flag-flying angst began with President Obama’s State of the Union address last week.

OK, I admit I fell asleep between the proposed $9 minimum wage and proposed new gun control. All I’d been hearing was blahblahblah middle-class, need more revenues, tax the rich, balanced approach, invest (spend) more, won’t add a dime to the deficit, infrastructure repair blahblahblah. Sounded just like last year’s presentation.

Sadly, I stayed asleep during Marco Rubio’s Republican response. Missed Rand Paul’s additional response. Woke up to see Fox TV’s Frank Lutz doing a focus group about the speech. Became wide-awake when people who claimed they’d voted for Mitt Romney said they’d liked President Obama’s statements on education (it’s important), immigration (plan to close the borders), the desire for bipartisanship (what???). Wondered: Did they sleep through the entire thing? Or have they just slept through the last four years ...

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