|Winnie and Duck visit to the National Aquarium of Politics.|
Politics have always been treacherous, but these days it’s a shark tank – and if you want to bring about change concerning the way our government functions, you’re going to have to swim with the sharks. I don’t think Barack Obama is a naive man but I do think a lot of his 2008 liberal base are.
“Change you can believe in” doesn’t mean change that’s going to happen over night. The facts are disheartening, but no one can get elected and bring about change without cozying-up to skeevy, monied power brokers – even when those forces are the very source of problems the most in need of reform. Furthermore, reforms don’t come about by merely electing a candidate – then withdrawing into complacency simply assuming you’re going to get every campaign promise you voted-for. Citizens need to remain engaged in the issues that most matter to them if we’re ever going to progress forward.
For example, none of the enthusiasm of the 2008 Democratic sweep carried-over into the 2010 midterms – Democratic voters literally did not have their star player’s back. Liberal voters made quiet little cricket noises during the midterms while deranged, yet motivated Tea Partiers over-took the House of Representatives delivering a headwind of backward thinking flaky neo-cons.
Progressives complained bitterly about how everything hadn’t turned utopian one year into Obama’s first term. I continue to have faith in Obama’s steady hand and unfettered demeanor because I don’t want an hysteric running our country. Besides, the president doesn’t run this country alone. There are 3 branches of government: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Think of it like a 3-way chess game. The primary thing that’s most constipated progress over the past three years has been a dysfunctional Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives. Add to that a conservative ‘stacking’ in the Supreme Court with disastrous decisions like ‘Citizens United’ – which has nothing whatsoever to do with the greater good of citizens and everything to do with handing-over the people’s vote to corporate will… and it’s remarkable Obama has been able to accomplish as much as he has.
Obama vividly illustrated through his Middle East policies how incompetent and short-sighted his predecessors were. At home, the president has delivered the goods on a number of campaign promises – including the repeal of DADT, the withdraw of forces in Iraq and saving the American auto industry – which should please his progressive base. Bear in mind, all this was accomplished while holding a hand of cards dealt to him during the Bush era – including environmental policies that left us with hemorrhaging off-shore oil wells, two wars and an economy in the dumpster – just to name a few.
It took forty years for the economic time-bomb first detonated by the Regan administration to fully implode our way of life – and anyone who thinks it can be fixed in 4 to 8 years is a fool. Hard times are here to stay for a lot longer than any of us can stomach. Therefore the president is forced to swim with the sharks – financial sharks – political sharks – foreign power sharks and even attempts to make deals with closed-minded Republican sharks… merely to set us back on the correct path for the long term. 99% of us are going to face difficult financial challenges for a long time to come.
That’s tough news, but it’s how it is.
The president works from the inside while his supporters are supposed to work from the outside writing letters to congresspeople – emailing and calling them with your ideas and demands – even engaging in peaceful civil protests instead of watching sports and reality shows on TV waiting for someone else to do it. Finally some courageous Americans have taken to the streets with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It will be interesting to see if they can withstand cold, inclement winter weather to fight for their beliefs, providing they even have a home to go to.
Back in the Oval Office, Barack Obama continues to swim with the sharks who represent obstinate resistance to fairness, progress and change. The very least the rest of us can do is contribute time, money (if available) and personal effort into building a world based on equality and a level playing-field. The alternative is acquiescing to even more shark attacks – especially in the financial sector who’ve laid claim to our political system. The sharks need to be caged and tamed into understanding there’s a difference between Capitalism and Democracy. Fortunately, Obama is a strong and clever swimmer.