In our darkest hour, at least that we millenials can remember, Obama gave us hope. We had 8 years of fear, debt, a weak economy, and blind nationalism that sickened any of us with even the most basic critical thinking skills. The Bush era was a nightmare for us.
I admit it. The neocons had turned me off to America for a while. To them, that is a mortal sin. Everyone is supposed to love ‘mer’ca! If you don’t, there must be something wrong with you. And to them “America” is whatever they support. Don’t support the war in Iraq? Why do you hate ‘mer’ca?! Don’t want to torture accused terrorists? Why do you hate ‘mer’ca?! Don’t like oil subsidies? Well, you get the idea.
I escaped to England, thinking I would find something better in the land of my forefathers. Well, it wasn’t England so much as it was London. I’ll spare you the details, but know that when America suffered over here, I suffered over there. I suffered over there, so I didn’t have to suffer over here…heh heh heh (Imagine my Bush voice). When the economy tanked, my own finances likewise tanked. When I thought all was lost, there was that enthusiastic progressive, multiracial, with and Islamic father and Christian mother, who represented an “America” I found far more appealing. It was an America where people were free to be different, where hard work paid off. It was an America of “hope and change”. It was no longer the America of angry pseudo-conservatives watching endless FOX news, calling food stamps recipients “lazy” while ignoring subsidies for big business, and supporting every war against every nation of brown skinned Muslims since they all look like Osama bin Laden. That America was dying, and a new one was being born. That the rebirth was being led by a man who looked Muslim, that was just a plus for me. Take that neocons!
Due to circumstances, I was moving back home.
When Obama was inaugurated, he declared “Change has come to America”. To this day, I still think he meant that at the time, but he was wrong. Change doesn’t come from inauguration. (I’ve discussed my disappointments with Obama here and here). Now the Republicans are in control of Congress, and rather than turning over a new leaf, they’re back to the same old tricks. They are seeking more subsidies, more welfare for big banks, and cuts to school lunches. We can’t afford decent food for our kids, but we can afford to back risky derivatives trading with FDIC insurance. (Details in this article). In all of their efforts to “cut spending”, you will hear no mention of ending oil subsidies, or auditing the Pentagon. Actually, they will include more funding for weapons that the Pentagon didn’t even request. But we can’t afford nutritious school lunches – sorry kids. It’s the same old crony capitalism the Republicans have been pushing since the party was founded. As the Republicans remind me of why I despise them so much (though I consider myself conservative), I can’t help but miss the Obama I voted for in 2008. Now, more than ever, we need that Obama. But he is a broken man now.
We partly have ourselves to blame. Like Obama, we thought we had won when he took office. We got lazy while the corporatists on the right and their FOX news viewing grunts got to work. They obstructed everything, attacked Obama from all angles, and we stuck our heads in the sands. Eventually, Obama gave in, and now we’ve got an Obama who supports indefinite detention, tolerates oil subsidies, invades countries without Congressional approval, and only faintly opposes torture. John McCain has done more to end torture than Obama, and McCain is Mr. Neocon!
Still, no matter what Obama has done, I can’t hate him. In 2008, in our darkest hour, in mine too, he restored my faith in this country. I’m not an ‘mer’can, but I am a proud American. But now I know that one man isn’t going to turn it around. The FOX news viewers may think Obama hates this country because he’s half Kenyan and his father is a Muslim, but I know that Obama loved, and probably still loves, the America that I love. It’s the America where the poor and downtrodden who don’t stand a chance in Europe can come and have a chance to succeed, and another chance, and another. It’s the land of opportunity, innovation, and progress. I have little faith left in Obama, but I’ll never forget what he did for me, and all of us. Remember what Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve failed over, and over, and over again…and that’s why I succeed.” We will move this country out of the neocon dark ages, but we will have to fail many times first.
PS I’m clearly not a typical Rand Paul supporter, but I am a supporter. I don’t care if it comes from the left wing, the right wing, or a chicken wing on a string at burger king. I’m not a progressive, but I supported Obama. I’m not a libertarian, but I support Paul. I just know that the old left-right paradigm needs to end, and I’ll support any candidate who can make progress towards that goal.