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Why The Obsession With Obama's Tears?

Jacqueline Jackson |
November 12, 2012 | 10:56 a.m. PST


Barack Obama was re-elected to the presidency. (Barack Obama, Creative Commons)
Barack Obama was re-elected to the presidency. (Barack Obama, Creative Commons)
Why is the media currently obsessed with President Obama's tearful speech to his outstanding supporters after his re-election?

On November 7, 2012 in Chicago, President Obama greeted his youthful supporters with praise and promise for the future that is in their hands. As he recalled their tenacity, perseverance and commitment to not only his presidential campaign, but also to the nation, he gave a tearful closing speech, in which he reminded them that it was their contribution that helped re-elect him. As he became choked up, he said, "What you guys have done means what I have done means what I'm doing is important, and I'm really proud of you. I'm really proud of you."

The young adult population mobilized in record numbers to re-elect the president, and rather than understand the gratefulness Obama must feel, the media, as well as Obama supporters, have questioned his display of emotion. Interestingly enough, this is not the first time the president has expressed his emotions publicly. In 2008, as the president spoke on the morning his grandmother passed away, he became overwhelmed with emotion. At the funeral for civil rights activist Dr. Dorothy Height, and only four days before his re-election, President Obama reminded an audience in Iowa he needed them to be “fired-up and ready to go” while he had tears in his eyes.

One reporter, however, reminded America that it was Ronald Reagan who set the tone for the intersection of politics and emotion:

“Ronald Reagan wasn't afraid to get choked up at appropriate moments—when lauding the heroism of an ordinary person called to do something extraordinary, or just when speaking about how great America is. Reagan made it possible, even uncontroversial, for a male politician to cry.”

Especially considering what is at stake for America, and what President Obama is being entrusted to do, how can the media act as if this is an emotionless context in which the president should not display emotion? With millions of lives at stake and a slowly growing economy, Obama’s re-election is beset with the importance of accomplishing extraordinary tasks with the help of officials who may not share his same enthusiasm or emotion for the preservation of life in America.

Yet, despite this, the president’s tears are the news of the day. He's being smeared across multiple news sources as anchors and writers question his strength, power and position as a leader, all because of the emotional connection he visibly shares with the community of people who support him.

The actual stereotype behind this moment is all too familiar to American ideology and gender binaries – "Boys Don't Cry." No men of any age are permitted to cry, because emotion is a sign of weakness. However, in a nation in which egos and greed have eclipsed all other motivations, emotion seems more like medicine for the wounds that Americans hope to heal.

The gender binary has caused a lapse in how we view the president, which is not only ridiculous but also alarming. As a nation in which emotion is regarded as weak, we have come to define strength as being cold and disconnected, both of which are characteristics Obama isn't in the position of the presidency to display. He is here to lead a forward-thinking nation with unlimited potential for growth.

We've selected a president of caliber, honor and equality. One who is searching for answers that he hopes to find before this brief eight years in office are just a memory. I'd like to see more praise for the president’s ability to be human. The inhumanity that we witness in a nation run by greed and selfishness have catapulted the economy into a downward spiral and caused an ever-increasing financial crisis to loom over the nation.

Even as many question his strength, I know that there is strength within his tears and his goals for America. It not only takes an individual whose connected with the public but connected with themselves to share some of their most emotional moments with the world. As America waits to learn how his second term will move the nation forward, it is safe to say that a human president is much better than a political robot.


Reach Contributor Jacqueline Jackson here; follow her here.



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