By Bernie Zimmermann
(written December 1998)
I really do not know what to think about this whole impeachment thing that occurred recently in our country. It seems strange because in watching the hearings on television, I feel as if we are all acting behind the president's back, whether it be the judiciary committee listening to defense arguments, or the American people sharing their opinions with friends and neighbors.
When it comes to the media and international goings-on, it seems to me that everything is relative. I am about as far away from Washington, D.C., as someone on the mainland of our country can be. However, through the media, I am just as close as the next person. Somewhere, someone is typing up a story that could change the way I feel about the whole thing. Why is that? I neither know the president, nor do I know the complete truth about his wrongdoings.
When I think of impeachment, Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson come to mind. This is merely due to the load of historical information that has been pumped into my head in the last three years. It is hard to know what to think nowadays. I think Bill Clinton is a good president.
What troubles me about the media, and even people in general, is that we never cease to focus on the evil side of things. At the heart of the embodiment of media lies the news. Watching the news is enough to make a perfect day turn to dust.
To find the painful finger on a hand of five is simple, but what about the four other fingers that are in perfect health? We, as part of our nature, expect order and perfection, so when this is challenged we distinguish it as abnormal.
I suppose, if I wanted to, that I could construct a rather long list of things the president has done for our country that would distinguish him as a great president. Does anyone want to read my list? No. We only want to hear about what the president has done wrong. Or do we even want that?
I guess I do not want to hear anything about the president, because to me he is just another man. He holds about as much prestige in my personal life as a high-school teacher I didn't have, or the woman who drives my brother to school every morning. I see him on television a lot, but I also see people like Jerry Springer and Harrison Ford just as much. They might as well be figments of my imagination. When I think of presidents, I often think of wars and elections. We never remember the man who lost by a thousand votes, even though he is just as much a man as the guy who won.
I think the president is kind of like the star that goes on top of a Christmas tree. Being Americans, we all associate ourselves with our country. It is hard to picture a family during the Christmas season that doesn't have a tree in their home. And if they don't, we are willing to overlook it because we are happy. We really do not need to put a star on the top of our tree, but people have been doing it for ages. The star is what makes the tree a Christmas tree. The president is what makes our country America.
Elias Boudinot once said, "If the moral character of a people degenerate, their political character must follow. These considerations should lead to an attentive solicitude to be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers . . . and judge of the tree by its fruits." In this light, we are America. We are the tree and the fruits. We should be judged by how we have decided to survive and live.
Today it seems like the political character of our nation has deteriorated, but perhaps that is only the media at work. It really makes no difference to me.
I do not feel as if our governmental system is by my own design. I was born and it was already in place. It is part of the world I have grown up in, and I do not have the power to change it.
I have heard all my life that it is easy to change the way things work, that it is possible to change the government if we do not like it. Sure, we can vote for better people, but do we choose who we get to choose from? It seems like we do not even have a say in who gets taken out of office, even if it is the president of our country.
We are the tree. We are the fruit and the tree, and yet our star outshines us.