Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Faded Hope

If you read the very first entry in this journal, you know I was very excited about the election of Barack Obama. I had high hopes that he would restore the integrity of the United States Presidency and the American people.

I’ve been through enough election cycles to know that Presidential candidates say whatever they need to say to get elected. I’m not so na├»ve to think Barack Obama was any different. I did, however, hope that he might lead the country in a new direction

1. I hoped he would close Guantanamo as he said he would. Maintaining this illegal facility and our other “black site” prisons makes us no better that any of the repressive regimes we claim to oppose. There is not one valid reason why these prisoners should not be given due process. We were able to bring Timothy McViegh and a whole host of other terrorists to justice using our legal system and prisons. We’re a country of blind justice, not selective justice.

2. I hoped that he would give the American people a thorough investigation of the Bush Administration’s bailout of the financial industry. We know it involved extensive corruption, mismanagement and cronyism, but there has still not been a full accounting of the $700 billion TARP spending or the $2 trillion+ in loan guarantees by the Federal Reserve.

3. I knew that Obama opposed the military invasion of Iraq and supported the invasion of Afghanistan, but I hoped he would stand up to the hawks who think military action is the solution to all international political problems. I hoped he would have the insight to see that continued military action in Afghanistan is causing more harm than good.

4. I hoped that he would get us out of Iraq. Thousands of US troops permanently remain in Iraq to protect our business and political interests. By recommitting the United States to the imperialistic nation-building policies of the Bush Administration, President Obama is continuing the legacy of saying our country is doing one thing when it’s in fact doing another.

5. I hoped he would use the bully pulpit of his office to lead the country toward meaningful healthcare and financial reform. He came into office backed by a populist mandate and a Democratic-controlled Congress, yet he has done little to discourage the upward flow of our nation’s wealth into the hands of a decreasing number of people at the top of the income scale.

What attracted me to Barack Obama was that he seemed like a political outsider who possessed the idealism and commitment to bring about change. I may have projected more of my progressive goals onto him than was realistic; but I thought he would stand up to Wall Street, the healthcare/pharma industry and the military on behalf of middle-class America.

He has turned out to be a disappointing centrist focused on pleasing the same special interests as the last four administrations. President Obama seems more dedicated to maintaining the status quo than change we can believe in. He's not leading. He is placating.

I still have hope, but it’s fading fast. My biggest hope is that I’m wrong about him.

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