Not so many years ago Barak Obama was a candidate in the Democratic Presidential primaries. We had a pretty good take on Hillary and many believed that she would make a fine President. But what divided Barack Obama beyond his complexion was an X factor that was filled in by both his history and a very smart team of campaign managers. He came from a different background carrying a different set of values and thus offered a different set of solutions to the insoluble problems that almost always make politics into a dirty power game. I wanted to believe, so very many of us wanted to believe. And over time the message became the man and the message was that with Obama CHANGE was possible. When I say CHANGE, it was an idea that most of us hold dear that government programs and the people who operate them can be transformed into a system that ethically serves people truly in need and not just those with large bank accounts and a raft of lobbyists. Obama became the change candidate and with his gradual accession to prominence and preeminence he became the long called for fixer who could resolve our economic crisis, bring about health care for all, end Guantanamo, reinvent our foreign policy, get us out of Iraq, bring peace to the Middle East and maybe even teach Republicans and Democrats to respect each other and learn to sing Kumbaya.
To say that expectations were sky high is an understatement of massive proportions. And thus the candidate became the nominee, became our President and slowly he pushed legislation, he addressed all the big issues, (sometimes in big ways and sometimes not), and the machinery of government was not exactly transformed. He flooded the financial industry with enough dollars to stave off a catastrophic meltdown but did not punish the supper greedy, or even reform the system that drove our economy so close to the edge that many of us fell off and are left looking at a new and meaner world from a place of abysmal poverty. He took on National Health Care as all Democrats do and was focused on not repeating the mistakes of the Clintons. Thus he let Congress lead and wrangle and made deals with Big Pharma and Big Med and he passed a bill that would secure coverage for additional millions by not creating an independent public entity or challenging the cost structure or major incentives of Big Insurance. The President took a trip to Cairo and made a speech "to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims." Not too many months later even as he launched a new military initiative in Afghanistan he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, not for what he had done but for what the Nobel Committee believed he would do.
He began his quest for another elusive peace prize, between Israel and Palestine by making George Mitchell his Special Envoy and telling Israel that they must provide a comprehensive Settlement freeze which in turn immediatelyly recast that as the minimum acceptable requirement from which Palestinian President Abbas and the PNA would negotiate. To further separate himself from his predecessor he said that he was going to close the military jail at Guantanamo Bay and had his Attorney General call for the civilian trial of the most heinous offenders from the 9/11 era. Not unlike Bill Clinton the chickens came home to roost at Mid-term and an electorate plagued by economic woes, two wars, a nightmarish debt and a huge amount of angst voted in a Republican majority in the House to enforce a new balance of power. Today Obama faces that reality by doing things to guarantee him a second term like replacing his Chief of Staff with another Chicagoan; Bill Daley who is extra cozy with Big Business and announcing that the trials of extremists held at Guantanamo will be in a military court convened there. He has allowed the new House Budget Committee Chair; Paul Ryan to produce a deficit savings platform that is largely based on the transfer of Medicare authority from the federal government to a voucher system paid to private insurance companies handing the President the high ground on a critical campaign issue. It appears Obama is successfully doing the 2011 version of the Clinton three step, seeking and finding ground between the left wing of his own party and the red hot tea partiers driving the right wing agenda of the Republicans.
So what about CHANGE? Systematic change takes time and skill and the literal remaking of allegiances on and off the Hill, in ways that run counter to the break-neck economic and military concerns of an American empire that is continually crashing against a world that is rapidly competing and beating the United States in education, manufacturing, international sales and the delivery of public and private services to its own people. The left has been splintered for decades and peeps between crying for all it knows need to be done and spiting in the face of those who can't deliver on political promises that were always beyond any politicians reach. The number of people who are scared has increased to include a sizable percentage of the middle class who simply can't keep up with either inflation or their grasp of the American dream.
I was a supporter of Hillary. I am a supporter of Barak Obama. I believe not in his ability to enact Change, but in his desire to engender change on many levels and in eight years to go as far as he can to rebuild the American Empire by remembering those who work, serving those who need help and opening the compassionate hands of the United States to insure that our interaction with friendly, not so friendly and unfriendly nations breeds respect and many new allegiances. We live in a complex and violent world where the battle for resources and sheer survival often times seems to outweigh the quest for human rights, justice and freedom for every man woman and child residing on our small planet. May we be wise enough to underwrite the efforts of our President to remake America to better serve its people and the people of the world by becoming actors for an hour a month or with every ounce of spare time we have to help make at least some CHANGE possible.