Blind faith

by Michele K. Jones
Published in The Independent Florida Alligator on Sept. 26, 2001

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, President Bush and Congress received a boost of support from the American people, illustrating that Americans may be placing too much faith in our leaders and not exercising their right to constructively criticize government.

The Gallup Organization reported Monday an unprecedented 90 percent job approval rating for President Bush and a similar jump for Congress. This is both the largest percentage increase and the highest presidential approval rating in Gallup history.

It is common for Americans to rally behind their leaders in times of crisis, but this recent vote of confidence in government and implied support for a war we have not yet begun to fight is unsettling. No president — Democrat or Republican — has ever been so popular on his own merit.

That a president who was only a month ago still taunted with the phrase “Hail to the Thief,” can take a flying leap from 51 percent 90 percent is bewildering.

During war and times of national crisis, it is important to be unified and inspiring to see strong patriotism and national pride. As Americans, though, we must remember that it is our democratic responsibility to question and challenge authority. Our ability to actively criticize our government is an integral part of the system. If we blindly follow our leaders, we run the risk of them leading us down the wrong paths.

We can be patriotic and wear our red, white and blue proudly, but we have to continue to exercise our right to participate in the decision-making process. When it comes time to act in retaliation for the attacks, Americans must demand to be informed, educate themselves on the policies being implemented, and voice concern where they see fit. The right to criticize our government is like all others — use it or lose it. If we lose our freedoms, we’ve already lost the war.