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One Year On, Obama's "Yes We Can" is Now "Incremental Change We Can Believe In"

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A week or two ago I began to think about the reality that it had been about a year since Obama won the election. And, about a week or two ago, I began to see and read the first conversations about how the 2012 Election is set to begin in the spring of 2010.

I do not know how many Americans can handle the beginning of another election right now. It's too early. We aren't done with the man who currently occupies the White House.

Too many of us have failed to make him create the change we need, too many of us are still willing to buy into this idea that he could go to the root of many of our problems and make things better for a broad swath of America.

At least half of the country still believes in the power of Barack Obama.

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I do not know what they believe or have faith in as they cling to these beliefs but my guess is these beliefs in are compartmentalized---separated from the oncoming expansion and escalation of the Afghanistan War, separated from the permanent U.S. occupation of Iraq, separated from Obama's cozying up to Big Banks like Goldman Sachs which placed risky bets on the housing market that heavily contributed to the economic collapse in 2008, separated from the bailout to health insurance companies that will be cloaked in a so-called public option.

The separation of Obama from all the inequities and evils that continue in America's name (the torture, the erosion of American civil liberties, the persecution of the Other, the drone strikes in Pakistan, the bailouts for the richest 1%, the rising costs of living, etc) is the glue that holds this country together. It keeps the country from totally coming apart from the stress of illusions and disillusion that reinforce each other.

The perpetuation of thinking that what we got Election Day is fundamentally better than what John McCain would have been pacifies the masses, keeps the civil unrest significantly depressed, and quells the anger and frustration many are feeling.

A year on, Americans still wear cheaply made commercial merchandise they bought that night when Obama claimed victory (or that day when Obama was inaugurated). They wear hats that say "President of the United States of America" or "HOPE" or "CHANGE."

The hats and shirts people wear with Obama's name on them say it all. They say despite my hardship, despite my poverty I push on because you made me believe this country could do better for me and other people some day.

I do not think they know when that will happen. It probably will not happen before Obama's Hope and Change Reunion Tour kicks off in the Spring of 2010 as he fights to maintain the support of those who were die-hard supporters in the spring, summer, and fall of 2008.

They don't know when they will get Medicare for All and have their health care bills significantly reduced, they don't know when they will be able to live a life without fear of having their home foreclosed on, they don't know when they will be sure that their union won't be forced to make concessions which result in a pay cut, they don't know when they can be sure that they will have enough money to help get their sons and daughters through college, they don't know when the next week or the week after they will know if they can afford to pay for all the groceries they need to feed their family--- But the vast majority continue to live knowing the alternatives, giving up or dying, to be worse than the trials and tribulations they are experiencing.

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Some turn to communities they live in for support ---churches, neighborhood groups, schools, unions, clubs, family, etc. Some have the courage and wherewithal to point the finger and consider why they live like this ---- why anyone in the world has to live like this.

Why does anyone have to live like that?

How do you sum up this past year and why the answer to one's prayers has taken so long to do what was necessary?

Do you pinpoint American democracy as an utter failure? Do you put the blame on Obama and say he has not been the transformative leader necessary for real change and failed to take on corporate power? Or do you address the psychology of America, the systems that run rampant in America and suck human goodness, kindness, caring, and decency like a leech?

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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