Tuesday, August 02, 2011

On Politics, Lost Hope, and Feeling Duped

I remember what HOPE felt like. I remember feeling it in Nicaragua, sitting on a hostel couch as election night results poured in, and in Africa, where Obama adorned everything from shop walls to wrap skirts. I remember it from before then, from standing in a parking lot outside my office with a coworker, listening to Obama give a speech in the months before the primaries were decided. I remember that feeling....but I don't feel it anymore. Now all I feel is disappointment.

Politics are ugly. Politicians are never who they seem to be (unless they're members of the Tea Party, and they are exactly who they seem to be). To be a politician, you have to have a huge ego, to believe yourself capable of things that no human is capable of, to be certain that you---yes, you---are the change this world needs. I know that the person who will be president will not be the same person we see as candidate for president, but I expect that they will at least maintain the outline of that person, that the shadow they cast will fill roughly the same space. With President Obama, I feel, however, as though I've been duped.

Is it me? Did I expect too much? Did I fall too easily for words? Did I overlook hints, clues, signs, messages from beyond that said that as president, Obama would fail to lead, that he would throw his own party under the bus, that he would not stand up for the things that he, as a supposed liberal, believes in. Did I fail to recognize that he is, at best, a moderate conservative with a weak spine? Was I that easily tricked?

I believe in compromise. In general, I think it's a good thing. But I don't believe that compromise and lying down and playing dead are the same thing. I don't believe that allowing radicals to hold you and a country hostage has anything to do with compromise. I don't believe that throwing away your principles can count as victory, no matter what it says on paper. I don't believe in giving and giving and giving without ever demanding one thing in return when we're talking about the game called politics. I believe that when the other side isn't willing to do their part you have to stand up and lead, compromise be damned. The Republicans don't seem to have trouble understanding that.  So why, why, why do you Mr. Obama, the man we elected to be president, the man we elected to lead?

I'm not saying that if it were November 2008 all over again, I wouldn't vote for Obama. You better believe I'd vote for him over McCain and the crazy woman he partnered with. But if I, if this country, could go back to the primaries, would I still want to see him chosen as the Democratic nominee, knowing what I know now (and I'm not just speaking in relation to this debt ceiling debacle but in relation to the sum of his presidency thus far)? I don't think I would. Hope, it's been said, is a good thing, maybe even the best thing, but as it turns out, that's not applicable in the world of politics. In politics, it's not hope that counts, it's action. And that just doesn't seem to be something our president has in him.

I'm not looking forward to the 2012 elections. Surely, I'll be voting Democrat (have you seen the crazy lady leading the Republican field this time around???) but I'll be doing it with a heavy heart, wishing that I had the option of choosing a true liberal, not a moderate conservative who, in the era before the Tea Party, would have made a damn fine Republican.