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Commentary :: Politics
The Missed Window
03 Jul 2012
When we went to the polls in 2008, those of us that voted for then presidential candidate Obama had hope. We believed there was a new direction coming to our country and our politics. Not just a personality or sentiment felt as a result of the media, but this time, through actual legislation. That's because, for those of us that voted for him, we believed him and that he would keep his main list of promises. We knew the minor secondary promises would be difficult to follow through on, and would most likely be on the back burner for another administration to take on.
We believed him when he said there were fundamental differences between himself and the other party's pick. Fundamental differences in the kinds of policies he would sign off on and the way he would behave as a president. We were all happy to see the first African American president take the stage. It was a monumental moment and almost made you stop and wonder whether Benjamin Banneker, when he was laying out the plan for Washington DC, ever stopped to think that one day a black American would take the oath of office and take up residence in that city and especially the White House with all the specific calculations that went into citing the location.
Celebrating the first black president was something shared by most Americans, whether they agreed with his positions and/or voted for him or not in 2008, and as we all know - most did. He came in with huge support from the American people – whether supporters or not or even people that voted at all. We wanted to see him fulfill his promise – and for those that voted for him, his major promises.
When he came into office, he not only had the wind at his back, but as if the heavens said, “Okay, we'll give you a small window of opportunity to do you what you promised,” he came in supported by a super majority of Democrats in both chambers of Congress. He had a limited amount of time to get done what he wanted to get done, and the country was slipping deeper and deeper into recession with jobs scarce and huge amounts of taxpayer cash being dumped into Iraq. There were also the cut backs on our constitutional freedoms he promised to return to us. Those were basically at the top of his promise list – getting us back to work, ending the war in Iraq - which according to him was a mistake - as soon as possible by following a rational timetable and stopping the overreaches so characteristic of his predecessors.
When the time came to use that majority, besides the stimulus efforts, he opted to try and implement universal healthcare coverage. There is no doubt it was something he listed in his speeches, and, when it came up in interviews, town hall meetings and in debates, it was something he said he would support. But this was as a lesser promise. It was not one of his major promises and in 2008 it certainly was not at the top of an increasingly jobless America's list of problems to tackle. Spending more money on efforts not directly related to the recession and Iraq was far from our minds.
Had it been normal times, in other words no “Great Recession” and no quagmire of a war let alone two, it would have been fine. I myself am a supporter of universal health coverage and realize every other industrialized nation in the world had it at that time in some form or another except us. Many Americans felt it was time to come into the 21st century, and I also felt that way – just as I do with being limited to a two party system.
But, the clock was ticking on President Obama's opportunity to get us back to work. The stimulus money had been packaged up and sent out by the pallet exclusively to banks because it was said if we did not, they would stop lending and our entire economy would collapse. Guess what, they took the money, invested it, gave out bonuses (after causing the recession) and sat on it. They then turned their backs on us and decided not to lend after we came to their aid. And guess what? The economy did not collapse, though those of us that gave them the money lost our houses, our cars, our jobs, our abilities to save for our children's futures, our benefits, our pensions, our 401k's, our nest eggs, our investments and in many cases the ability just to put food on the table.
Previous to President Obama, children of taxpaying parents in the inner cities that had to run home from school to avoid being jumped, shot at, having to deal with drug dealers and pimps and who suffered from less than adequate school systems, still had to deal with all those issues and that still has not changed. Their parents had no better prospects for jobs or education than they did previously, that too has not changed. In fact, just the opposite with roll backs in education in both k-12 and higher education funding occurred in addition to cutbacks in police departments.
The War in Iraq, that President Obama called “a mistake” when campaigning, continued, and when the time came to pull out according to the timetable set by his predecessor, which became his fallback point on that issue and on most others, he actually tried to extend troop presence.
He promised to bring jobs and talked about a WPA style temporary jobs program to get people working and to contribute to the economy as part of any stimulus while the recession was struggling to recover. Again he left us hanging. We had to struggle with little to no help. We had to stay jobless and so many Americans remain so. Why did all that money have to go to wealthy financial corporation’s on Wall Street? Why didn't some of it go to temporary job creation? We really could have used those jobs and that's still the case.
Instead of rolling back crackdowns on civil liberties, his administration actually continued down the path of his predecessor. The hope and faith turned out to be less of a promise, and more something timely to write across bumper stickers. Bad time to go back on that promise – for us.
We were reminded of the window of opportunity missed this past week, when the Supreme Court ruled the law would stand. It was no surprise, as when the court first took up the issue, most experts whether left, right or center on the issue, agreed it was highly improbable the Court would strike it down (except on one specific cable news network the name of which we all can pretty much guess). As we got closer to decision time, the theatre of election season kicked in, and scrambling for ratings the pundits and experts (at least the ones interviewed) suddenly had no idea what would happen, and imminent doom was lurking like one of those caped villains with the big hooked nose in old black and white movies smiling fiendishly and rubbing their hands together.
But, as was predicted, when cooler headed pundits and perhaps more intelligent experts were being interviewed, the law remains. In the end, it was just more wasted taxpayer money, time and resources to add to the list. It's not that we shouldn't have universal healthcare, it's that when the time came to make good on the top promises, we saw the entire window of opportunity and then some, get taken up with a lesser tangential issue given what we had in front of us. From then on almost nothing got done and we watched the two sides refuse to cooperate, even though reaching consensus is basically what we pay them for. We watched the very reasons why and proof of the fact the two party system has failed us unfold right in front of our eyes.
We were witness to how our politics have been hijacked by wealthy corporate interests on the left and right. We saw how politics are more theatre now and dressing and that despite what they say on the road, today's politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, are all about saying what they think we want them to say while campaigning, then doing what their backers want them to do once in office.
Even the office of the presidency has become more the place for a figurehead and symbol of what America is at the time to not only best serve the interests of wealthy corporations here, but overseas especially. When people see American oil refineries, factories, mines, and more in other countries, they don't say that's Exxon's or Shell's, they say, “that's American.” They link it to the president of America, whomever that is, and Obama represents the antithesis of the image of an evil empire invoked whenever people thought of the Bush Administration – even though in reality he has mostly just continued their policies. His image epitomizes the old ideal of the American dream, that idea anyone can make it in America no matter how humble their roots, but that's become theatre.
Without a doubt, he is the establishment pick this year just as he was in 2008 – though many of us didn't realize it then. It almost seemed his opponents were helping him out by making mistakes only fools would make, which neither McCain nor Romney, nor their people are. He will win reelection this year and that is without a doubt and we can see things lining up that way, some examples being the majority of the Arizona immigration ruling by the Supreme Court favoring the Federal Government, and the Health Care ruling favoring The Federal Government also.
It's not a matter of Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama, as aside from talk, on the issues if you look closely enough, they are pretty much the same. This is especially true on the larger issues. Romney would not do that much different at all. If you want to see different action from the left, right or center or maybe action that favors the majority of us - being middle income and lower income Americans, voting either Democrat or Republican will not get you the real change you seek. It only provides the illusion of it, while following essentially the same agenda – one dictated by less than 1% of us.
The goal is not to prove Obama is the right person to elect, but that it made enough sense he would win. Heck, they even got Rupert Murdoch to say Romney has no chance. Romney is not the alternative, he is the Plan B, and if people start to catch on, or something unforeseen happens, he steps in pretending to be the alternative, “Oh wow! No one saw it coming!!” when in reality he's the backup plan. Things will continue as they have been, with a two party system favoring the wealthy corporations, until we begin to choose completely different parties in addition to the current two, to stock the seats of Congress.
There is no law saying we need two parties, and with all the choice we have everywhere else in society, and as advanced as we are at this stage in our history, is just two parties really the best we can do? Are the two parties as the only political parties, really giving us our money's worth? Sure we are stuck with them now, but over the next ten to twenty years, we can certainly change things. We deserve to have real choice and real change and we won't get it from Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. There is hope for change if we only reach out for it. No person deserves to be denied liberty, whether by Kings, tyrants or corporate thieves. We shouldn't short ourselves, we deserve better.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to
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