Critics and supporters alike want President Obama to become our nation’s father figure during the BP oil spill catastrophe. Some people are upset President Obama has maintained his calendar of prior commitments and responded to the crisis without sufficient fatherly concern .
A desire to combine fatherhood with politics is nothing new. Think Founding Fathers or Ronald Reagan, who many still imagine as the perfect Presidential daddy. George Lakoff, the famous linguist from UC-Berkeley, diagnosed Republicans as the party of stern fathers while Democrats were incapable of being tough as nurturing and permissive metaphorical parents.
Yearning for the perfect daddy, in any situation, is understandable but in the end leads to a dangerous form of procrastination and a perpetuation of a patriarchy that no longer serves us. Instead of waiting for father to fix a bad situation and make it all better, we can think more deeply about what we can do in our own everyday lives to reduce our dependence on the substance that is now gushing into the Gulf of Mexico as we maintain pressure on the responsible corporations to right their wrongs.
Most of us will not travel to the Gulf Coast during this crisis. All of us can take the time to consider how to be less dependent on oil in the future. We can hold BP responsible for this tragedy and we must hold ourselves responsible for the oil we consume on a daily basis. Ultimately, the goal here is to stop waiting for daddy and to do our small part from wherever we are. If father knew best, I have to believe this crisis would have been over a long time ago.