“We have been told that we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. They will only grow louder and more dissonant.” – Barack Obama, New Hampshire Primary Concession Speech, January 8, 2008
So it was then and so it still is as we move into the second year of Barack’s presidency.
The hue and cry of the status quo has risen to a fevered pitch as it dies a slow public death by a thousand cuts and the shifting expectations of the electorate. The unaffiliated wing-nuts have come forth in their hundreds of thousands to complain that someone isn’t paying attention to their nonsensical, low-information rants. The fringes of both parties explode in fits of blubbery rage at the slightest provocation or with no provocation at all.
The campaign we waged and won against the status quo candidates in 2008 was always going to be followed by a decades long battle with an establishment grown quite secure in its enormous wealth and power, but with much less civility than in the last presidential election since it will be fought by the remaining die-hards of all stripes or those heavily invested in the current system. Anyone who thought Obama could actually govern any differently than he has so far should be considered dangerously naive and sent to bed without dinner.
Until he saw if We The People had his back at the grassroots, our new president has a family to protect which makes him very vulnerable indeed.
I am not here to discuss the various and sundry missteps of the president during his first year in office. I didn’t expect perfection and understood the nature of the challenge he faced leading a nation of overfed and petulant children locked in a deadly embrace of fanatical single-mindedness and debilitating lethargy. As far as I can tell, the man has governed according to the campaign platform he ran on and that’s about all we could expect absent huge changes in We The People to force changes in Congress, neither of which emerged last year.
The only way the bully pulpit is effective is when the folks in the pews are engaged and paying attention. When all they hear is the choir arguing at the top of their ample lungs about the color of their robes as the church burns down around them, it is little wonder that America’s political parishioners run for the doors instead of hanging around to get burned. We needed millions of voices calling for change, yet all we got were a couple hundred thousand fanatics calling for heads and a Congress largely insulated from their complicity in funneling billions of dollars to private interests at the expense of the public good.
How could the American public be inspired to any sort of action when the chorus of cynics insist on using aggressive, old school tactics at every turn? How could we expect an evolutionary moment in American society to be continued when our lizard brains seem to be firmly in control? What happened to the grassroots movement that Barack built in every single state during the primaries to win the election? When did our community-organizer president decide We The People couldn’t be relied upon to get the job done given our historic lack of vision and focus?
I am guessing he came to that realization on January 21, 2009 and has seen little reason to revise it since.