The time has come, Barack! Good-bye, farewell, so long, hej da, auf wiedersehen, ciao.....well, you get the point. I really wish that I could add Shalom to this list, but then Shalom has not been a big theme with you or your crew. So, here are only some of the many reasons why we have come to The Parting of the Ways -- the most basic being your utter and shameful betrayal of nearly everything progressive you claimed to stand for when you ran for President, and won twice.
My Magic Moment of Truth came upon learning of those unmanned drone aircraft strikes which often killed, maimed, or wounded totally-innocent people in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Yemen, or God knows where else around the world. As one of your supporters, both before and after the presidential elections, I had believed that you were a person of sound judgment, compassionate and caring about the effects of your decisions. As a supposed Constitutional scholar, you well understood the concept of due process, the rules of engagement, and the requirements of common decency and simple humanity. Obviously, I had been wrong in those beliefs about you -- death by drone was fine with you, if it might enhance some bizarre view of what it takes to protect American national security. At that moment, I realized you were no longer the person who wrote, or believed in, The Audacity of Hope. The real Barack Obama was someone else entirely.
Of course, there had been earlier signs of your duplicity -- Monday-morning quarterbacking, there were a host of such signs. While you had not run for the presidency as any kind of real progressive, some of your presidential appointments were troubling, to say the least. Your pick for Attorney General, for example, did not inspire liberals with enthusiasm. Your pre-election commitment to close the Guantanamo torture factory and secure justice for its inmates fell by the wayside. Your weakening of environmental protections, such as an apparent willingness to open American public lands to private exploitation, destroying much of our national heritage in the process, was truly atrocious. And then came the unbelievable deal-with-the-devil you made with the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives which led to the extension of unconscionable tax breaks for the rich and super-rich, and ultimately has led to the sequestration crisis.
Still, I was consoled by the hope that your second term would be vastly different from your first, and you would truly begin to deliver on the host of commitments you had made to your progressive supporters. The audacity of that hope was rapidly dashed after your re-election, as it was pretty-much more of the same. While you surely took the lead in modest gun control measures after the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, you failed to endorse serious measures such as removing the plague of easy access to assault weapons. And while Osama Bin Laden surely got what he so richly deserved, that frequently-mentioned accomplishment did not compensate for your endorsement of so many adverse views and positions. Your energy policies, in particular, took away vital protections for the oceans and the Arctic, while you might indeed be termed the Mother Fracker to the natural gas interests. It was harder and harder to continue to support you -- but I still kept trying, as an officer of my local Democratic party, and as a loyal Democrat ever since FDR.
Then came the public exposure of your often-indiscriminate drone strikes, even on occasion against American citizens, which are escalating the horrors of war to a new level. As a constitutional scholar, you must surely understand the need for due process in our judicial system, which expressly prohibits the same party from being judge, jury, and executioner. There is no semblance of due process in death-by-drone. Most recently, we have the disclosure that your administration has been secretly spying on your fellow Americans via tapping into phone lines, monitoring social media, and generally behaving with all the legality, style, and grace of Richard Nixon with his enemies list. Your vapid attempts to justify these, and other, violations of the rights of your fellow Americans are so strained as to cause stomach distress. Leading members of Congress from your own party are speaking out forcefully against such invasions of privacy in the name of an ephemeral version of so-called national security. Most ironically, it seems that mainly your opponents, such as Tea Party Republicans, are the only supporters of your indiscriminate spying on your fellow citizens. Shame!
And thus, we have come to The Parting of the Ways, Barack! I will not accept misconduct from you which would not have been acceptable from Richard Nixon or even your immediate predecessor -- or, indeed, from any president. You have lost the way, and many of us progressives have lost all faith in you. We can only wait out the rest of your last term, and hope for the best. That, indeed, represents the true Audacity of Hope under these present sad circumstances.
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)