I’ve noticed there’s lots of election retrospectives today. Can you believe Obama was elected one year ago? I remember feeling absolutely ecstatic and was very hopeful for the future. It was like falling in love: you know when you think the air is sweeter, the colors brighter and there’s an extra pep in your step?!
2008 was a year of change. We didn’t have to hear George Bush on television anymore. One thing I’d picked up on – and perhaps it’s just me but I felt Bush had a slightly mocking tone more frequently accompanied by a smirk. It was an arrogance and a refusal to consider any other viewpoint that I found particularly jarring.
I started blogging in earnest and the impetus was the need for an ideological shift, but not simply a political one. I was enthusiastic though – especially as I was able to attend both the Nomination ceremony (I went to Denver for the Democratic national Convention) and the Inauguration. The campaign was hard fought, full of emotional ups and downs and many people felt personally invested. There was a lot at stake.
Once the Swearing-In took place though life returned to “normal” with all of the monsters under the bed spilling out. The economic problems needed to be addressed. The President’s push for bi-partisanship was extremely irritating to me as anyone could clearly see the Republican party adopted a stone wall of resistance to any legislation put forward. Even now they’re blocking the passage of an additional Unemployment Extension Plan just because. Do I even want to talk about health care?
Yeah let’s go there. I found myself becoming more critical of the Obama administration over its policies. The policy of giving in too early and not pushing an agenda that the people want. Like dropping single payer immediately and dragging its feet over the public option which is already a huge sacrifice to begin with. Like continuing many of Bush’s policies especially when it comes to foreign relations. We’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was a big campaign issue that was supposed to have distinguished Obama from his Democratic rivals.
I could go on and list ever single thing but the bottom line is I always knew George Bush was an illegitimate leader whose policies ended up bringing this country to its knees. I expect Obama to do better. Bush didn’t care what anyone else thought and neither should Obama. I want a leader not a compromised “diplomat”. So far I’m rather disappointed and yes my expectations are very high. I am also worried about those that serve under him – and whose interests they’re actually serving. I guess despite my doubts part of me still believes he wants to try…but he could turn out to be the biggest Trojan horse this country has seen.
If that’s the case what are we going to do about it? Elections in CA were just so-so compared to other states like NJ and VA which now have Republican Governors. New York City has a billionaire Mayor who spent $100M and other hidden compensation to change the rules allowing for a 3rd term. I don’t like the fact someone so blatantly used their money and influence to steer an election – but all bets are off now aren’t they? This is how it really is and that grotesqueness needs to be seen. Yet Bloomberg only won by 5% against his rival..but a win is a win. Too many people didn’t participate in the election and when they find themselves getting the short end of whatever policy stick he wields they won’t be able to complain. Bloomberg already charges people to stay in dangerous homeless shelters and many fear rent control laws will be gutted in favor of greedy property owners.
So back to Obama. My closing thoughts are focused on his family, symbolism and accountability. So many people are fascinated by the marriage between Barack and Michelle, but also look to the First Lady to be a standard-bearer. One cannot discount the influence of having an African-American woman in the White House. It is a status elevation that should be used carefully but decisively by other black women for their own personal use. Overall it is a gain for the collective. It’s a relief to see the First Couple act lovingly towards each other in public as that’s the antithesis of what we’ve come to accept political marriages to be. Like many things about the Obamas as individuals and together they are an anomaly.
The bottom line though is that it is up to us as individual voters and as a collective voting block to set an agenda and plan accordingly. It’s the only way we’re going to get the things we need let alone some of the ‘perks’ we want. Although we don’t all want the same things there has to be enough of a constituency to come together and align with other like-minded groups to get laws passed that are favorable to the less-connected, the less-wealthy – and the less-combative! There are numerous institutional barriers in place but that doesn’t mean we cannot set them aside.
Those of us who voted for change and hope have to ask ourselves just how hard we are willing to fight for that even if that means going against individual politicians. After all they’re supposed to be working for us not against us. Party affiliation is almost a moot point here as well. It comes down to us: what we’re willing to do, how well we plan a course of action, how much we pay attention to what’s not being talked about and what consequences we have in place for those who are disloyal to our core agenda. We can’t blindly follow the leader trusting in an inherent “goodness” that will protect us.
We must be shrewd investors ready to take our political capital elsewhere when necessary.