It is now official. Nothing and apparently no one is sacred or safe from partisan politics. Recently the president made an unscheduled stop (As presidents often do, to the dismay of the Secret Service) at the Big Apple Pizza Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Owner Scott Van Duzer, in an apparent display of non-partisan admiration, greeted Obama with a hearty bear-hug. Afterwards, as startled onlookers recovered from their astonishment and as the hearts of the Secret Service agents began to beat again, Van Duzer and Obama exchange a bit more banter, then the president left.
I can almost see Van Duzer standing in the door of his restaurant waving goodbye, with a big smile, as the president leaves the scene. This would surely put Van Duzer's restaurant on the map. And it did just that. Only not in the way the small business owner had probably expected.
It appears that Van Duzer, who is a Republican, reportedly expressed his support for Obama in the upcoming election. Apparently there is an unwritten rule that says a party member must vote within his or her own party, because almost immediately after the media ran the story, the vitriol began to seep.
In a move that depicts partisan politics at its finest, people began making negative comments about the event on the website Yelp.com. Although this was not a good thing to be happening, the situation soon led to calls to boycott the Florida restaurant. Suddenly it was as if Van Duzer had endorsed the Devil himself. Then again, even if he had endorsed the Prince of Darkness, isn't this America? Isn't this the land of the free and home of the brave? The place where people are free to express their support for whomever they choose?
This is yet another example of how some will so blindly follow a political party or ideology.
This incident leaves the question of where, exactly, is our freedom of choice? Must we cower in the shadows these days if we dare to disagree for fear of reprisal?
The last time I voted, I don't recall anyone standing over my shoulder to make sure I picked the "right" candidate. I don't remember walking into a bar or restaurant where there was a sign that said, "Republicans Only" or "Democrats Only," either. I do however recall a time in America when there were signs like that, but they didn't say Democrat or Republican.
So what is this all about? Are there really people out there so deeply entrenched in partisanship that they would react like this? Is it possible that there are those who would hate Van Duzer, who is a well-known force for good in his community, just because he didn't "toe the line"? Or is it something much deeper, more sinister and much more divisive. It would truly be a sad thing to find out that the long road we've traveled turned out to be a circle that has only lead us back to where we started.
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