Given the opportunity, what would you ask the President of the United States?
This week, I nearly got the chance.
After submitting a question to the #AskObama2014 Virtual Road Trip, my one minute video flew through Google’s politics and causes department. Then, I passed a personal phone interview. I even had reasonable expectation that Google’s technical staff would arrive at our home for the live hook-up.
But, alas, White House staff selected the final nine individuals to join the President Friday during his Google+ Hangout Road Trip. I missed the final cut.
Was I excited about making the short list? Absolutely.
Was I disappointed to be passed over? Perhaps.
Here was my question.
With a brand name like Maura4u, it’s fairly evident that I’m an advocate for the whole rather than a force for division. Hardly political, I’m keenly interested in hearing – and testing – divergent ideas among those in leadership.
My eclectic background includes a college internship for Senator Ted Kennedy, the late champion for the left. Years later, I was invited to deliver an opening prayer for ultra-conservative Patrick Buchanan when he campaigned for President in Florida.
In the early 90s, I listened to Dick Chaney stomp at a local college. When I took the microphone to ask him a question, he feigned a break in the audio system, claimed not to hear what I asked, and discontinued further Q & A’s.
Some years later, I had opportunity to query Dick Morris during an Alaskan cruise. At the time, Dick was straddling what would become a major flip-flop in his career: he was no longer adviser to Bill Clinton at the White House but had yet to become consultant for FOX TV’s Republican viewers.
I asked Dick what he believed was the greatest obstacle precluding members of both parties from working together in Congress. It was a simple question, but he considered it brilliant. Dick laughed and gesticulated wildly across the cruise ship’s giant stage.
“In twenty years of political consulting, that is the best question I’ve ever been asked!” he bellowed and proceeded to respond with great delight.
Morris explained that if they wanted to, members of Congress could solve most issues in about half an hour. But they never will. They need conflict. Without conflict, they can’t rally constituents around a cause.
Translation: No fight, no interest, no more campaign checks.
I bumped into Dick Morris a few more times during the that cruise. Back then, he loved witty conversation and engaged in insightful shop talk.
Years later, I would see him again. He was actively serving the Republican party, making entertaining speeches to captive audiences. Something was now missing: his freedom of unbiased commentary had become bound. Too bad. I preferred the former candid mind who didn’t owe allegiance to either party and who alternately criticized and approved ideas from both sides of the political spectrum.
I did hope to pose my most recent question to President Obama. I wanted to know if he felt the U.S. Presidency was ready for a paradigm shift. Having completed his State of the Union address, I wanted to know if he envisioned America as a unified nation. As President, was he ready to usher in an expectation for solutions and collaboration rather than continued partisan bickering and further entrenched ideologies?
Imagine what a change in Capitol Hill politics might do for us all. Imagine a country whose name would be synonymous with its spirit. Imagine a United States President whose State of the Union speech is delivered – and received – in a common belief that good things come from great people furthering high ideals.
Call me a dreamer, an idealist, even a John Lennon loyalist. Though relatively young in history, our nation is rich in its heritage – in freedom, in innovation, in social progress and in opportunity. We are a great land with great people who historically have aspired to be even better.
I hope this Friday someone asks President Obama a question reasonably related to mine.
I’d like to hear someone ask this President to distinguish himself not only as the man who broke the White House color barrier but as a leader who inspired progress toward cooperation and good will at our nation’s Capitol.
With or without my question to the President, I am ready for a change.
How about you?