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The Audacity Of Exploiting Hope

June 10, 2015

Maybe it’s a rite of passage on the road to becoming an adult. Maybe it’s that pinch of salt that stings but flavors the broth of life.

In 2008, I was swept up along with millions of other Americans in a fever of hope. The dark martial days of the Bush administration were coming to a welcome close. Even members of the administration seemed to be relieved it was all over. A wave of hope burned like blue fire and the change that had been deferred for decades seemed to be standing on the threshold. Tomorrow would be a better day. Morning was returning to America.

Where the Bush administration was warlike, Barack Obama promised peace. Where they were cruel, he promised mercy. Where the Bush administration was secretive, Obama promised transparency.

I can still remember being in the back seat of Chelsea’s car barreling down I-5 at ten p.m. when the news came that Barack Obama had become the first black man elected president. Previous generations had knocked racism on its heels and we were about to crush it from existence. It was exhilarating, knowing you have taken part in history, even if it was just one vote. I had taken part and now, due to my participation, the world was about to change into a better place.

The old-timers are nodding their heads with sad smiles. They can see what’s coming.

It is now seven years later. Race relations have deteriorated around the country exacerbated by an increasingly militarized police force. The Obama Administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations in America’s history combined. The targeted assassination program started in the Bush years proliferated, with Obama personally ordering drone strikes that have taken the lives of dozens of innocents and at least one American teenager. The shameful prison at Guantanamo Bay where America has tortured innocent men for years remains open despite Obama’s many promises to see it closed. The Orwellian surveillance state that was implemented by scared lawmakers during the Bush years, exploded under Obama with intelligence chiefs declaring they would “collect it all”. Global unrest has increased in the last seven years, helped along by America’s invasive surveillance and our dollar bill mindset. Tensions in the Middle East at an all-time high, as yet another enemy created by America’s disastrous foreign policy reminds the world what true terror looks like. Vladmir Putin has expanded his grip on power, taking advantage of teetering economics and distraction. The bankers that collapsed the global economy in 2007/8 have seen no jail time, or any punishment of consequence. They continue to get rich using underhanded practices that no reasonably minded individual could defend. The chasm between rich and poor has widened. America continues to boast the highest percentage of incarcerated citizens which in turn fuels a booming private prison industry. A war on drugs that America has been fighting for decades has continued unabated forcing states to stand at odds with the federal government by legalizing marijuana at a state level. Obama’s most-trumpeted legislative success was the Affordable Care Act, which, in it’s completed form turned out to be nothing more than a handout to those oh-so-deserving insurance companies. It has done very little to help actual Americans.

I am certainly not laying the blame for all the evils in the world at the feet of one man. I’m not going to say it’s all his fault. That wouldn’t be fair. I am listing all this to illuminate my own personal journey, what Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the highest office in the land has meant for me.

Barack Obama laid claim to hope and promised change. Looking at it now it seems obvious. What is an election but an eighteen-month job interview? And what does one do in a job interview? Lie. Stretch the truth. Exaggerate one’s abilities. We, as Americans, continue to overlook this failing that is common to all applicants to the job of President. The results continue to be disastrous but we never learn. Politicians take advantage of those feeling in us that are most noble and turn those feelings into votes. It is crass manipulation that leaves the manipulated feeling used and disappointed.

Where Barack Obama promised hope, I have disappointment. Where he promised more transparency, there are more walls. Where he promised justice, there has only been injustice. His affect on my life has been to bring me from the naïve hope of my teenage years into the crushing malaise of adulthood. He has hurried me along the path to cynicism, all the while promising a brighter future just around the corner.

I regret voting for him twice.



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