The entire world came to a standstill Monday … Barack Obama, the “leader of the free world,” the President of the United States joined Twitter. In a day and age where nothing is really “official” if it’s not on social media, this Twitter account was a very big deal. Such a big deal that it made international news, and President Obama received over 1 million followers in one day!
Monday night, I was greatly amused by the many public figures across the nation, sharing in the love on the @POTUS Twitter page. Former President Bill Clinton took a shot and chimed in the fun asking if the @POTUS Twitter handle stayed with the White House.
He tweeted: “Welcome to @Twitter, @POTUS! One question: Does that username stay with the office? #askingforafriend” Obama tweeted back: “Good question, @billclinton. The handle comes with the house. Know anyone interested in @FLOTUS?” Maybe Bill Clinton’s handle will change to @FMOTUS instead.
I found this amusing to say the least, and the fun continued … even into the world of professional sports. The President followed all of his favorite Chicago sports teams: the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox. Unfortunately for the Chicago Cubs, they did not get a “follow” from @POTUS! And they responded, comically … @POTUS We’re big fans of America. Just saying. #YouMissedATeam
The jokes and jest continued for our president, who has long placed his sense of humor on display. Everyone seemed to be excited about his Twitter debut. There were thousands of messages saying, “Welcome to Twitter Mr. President,” and “You are so cool for having Twitter,” “I hope you have time to reply to all of your Twitter messages.”
And then … I scrolled too far … comment after comment of obscenities aimed at our president. Graphic photos of him with a noose around his neck. Racial slurs. Death threats. On social media? I couldn’t believe my eyes. I scrolled further in disbelief. It made me sick to my stomach. And it made me sad … sad for a country that prides itself on being the most powerful and diverse and this prosperous land of opportunity for all people. Not only does this behavior make us look simple-minded and divided, it makes us look extremely weak.
Now, to be clear, I’m all for the freedom of speech, but when you begin to make threats on the lives of others because you don’t agree with their beliefs, we’ve gone too far. Beyond this, I’ve never seen so much blatant disrespect for a sitting president in all of my life. It’s embarrassing that we as a nation cannot just rally behind and support the commander in chief elected to lead our country over his or her term. We are all Americans in the end right?
It seems that the gamesmanship employed as political tactics has spilled over into a way of life in our country. One where we are unable to simply agree to disagree. One where your political party determines the friends you can make and your political views put you on the sidelines of some psychological civil war.
There have been presidents and other notable political figures with whom I have disagreed on their every policy position, but I would never disrespect their elected position nor disrespect them as human beings. To me it, that’s a distinct line in the sand that we should never cross.
The time for gamesmanship has past. We have gone too far. We don’t have to love our elected leaders’ every decision. We don’t even have to actually like them. But we can be civilized and treat them with #Respect.