A teacher and his daughter, a future teacher, will make a pilgrimage of democracy next month to see two world leaders meet at the White House.
In this article, this teacher of middle school Civics reflects on the meaning of the journey for himself, his family, and the world.
On June 7, 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive at the White House for a state visit. Once there, she and President Obama will reinforce the US-German alliance, establish common economic and political goals for the two nations, and coordinate military operations as a part of NATO. The opening ceremony welcoming the chancellor to the US will be held, most likely, in the Rose Garden, where speeches will be made, members of Congress and the cabinet will gather, and dignitaries will be able to exchange pleasantries. President Obama will bestow on Chancellor Merkel the presidential Medal of Freedom. That evening, President Obama will host a state dinner in honor of the first female German Chancellor. Somehow, my seventeen-year old daughter and I will be there to witness history in the making.
The two heads of state have met before, with the last meeting taking place in 2009. They were scheduled for a meeting last February, where the President was to award the Chancellor with the 2010 Medal of Freedom, but for reasons not entirely clear, the trip had to be postponed. The state dinner planned for later that evening will be President Obama’s fourth, with those given for India, China, and Mexico previously. Germany is a major player in European politics because it is an economic leader within the European Union. Germany has also been supportive of American efforts against Al Qaeda, especially in Afghanistan. Germany did not wholly support US raids on Libya during the current uprising against Colonel Muamar Kaddafi, but it did not block the US vote in the UN Security Council with a veto. Germany abstained, giving NATO and the US the green light to move against Kaddafi’s forces in order to protect rebel civilians.
My daughter and I will attend the reception at the White House because I am but a small part of the effort to re-elect President Obama. His re-election volunteers are known collectively as Organizing for America (OFA), and I have been invited by the local coordinator for western Maryland, who could not attend this event. I will be representing a strongly Republican and conservative region in the state of Maryland, which is still considered a “safe” state for President Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Regarding the 2012 campaign, our main goal is the generate enough momentum in voter registration and voter conversion that the 6th Congressional district of Maryland will “turn blue,” which means electing a Democrat after twenty years of Republican incumbency.