Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Barack Obama and our broken hope

My latest post at The Guardian:
The morning of 3 November 2008 felt like Christmas come early. America had a new president and a new congress that would end our long, national, neocon nightmare. And the new commander-in-chief was a self-identified black man with biracial heritage, which surely meant something good about race relations in the United States. That day, I rejoiced as a die-hard liberal and a black descendant of enslaved Africans and the Jim Crow South. I worried, too. Because folks were acting like electing one man to sit in the Oval Office was an end game.

Drunk on hope, many of my fellow Democrats, and some swing voters besides, patted themselves on the back for triumphing over both racism and Palinesque ignorance, and with teary-eyed relief, looked forward to impending days of non-existent unemployment; legalised gay marriage; an end to war, torture and corporate greed; and slavery reparations in the mail.

But real, lasting change never comes easily. And tales that begin with a flawed human being in the role of the messiah never end well. Indeed, with President Obama's approval ratings hovering below 50%, it seems America has sobered up – and is none too happy with the country's leadership and the change that has not come.

At a televised Town Hall on Monday, a woman named Velma Hart spoke for a lot of Americans when she said:
"I'm one of your middle-class Americans and quite frankly I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for. I'm deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people. And I'm waiting sir, I'm waiting. I – I don't feel it yet."
We are a frustrated and angry nation. But is all our disappointment owed to President Obama? Or should our current situation serve as a reminder about expectations and the folly of trying to make magicians of men. Read more...

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