President Barack Obama (by Richard Avedon)
(Image by Richard Avedon (via Flickr)) Permission Details DMCA
If it Sounds too Good to be True
Yet, putting aside such challenges, it is fair to say that because Obama's victory in 2008 was so unique (and not just because he was the first African-American commander in chief), it was perhaps inevitable some folks might wish to apply a wholly new calculus by which his presidential tenure should be measured.
Be that as it may, our broad terms of reference herein will be to focus on sundry sins of omission and commission; in Obama's case it will be those "sins" loosely corresponding to the expectations he elicited with his hope-fuelled, promise-filled campaign.
As we approach the final year of the Obama era, the following reality should be more obvious to Americans and non-Americans alike than ever: Which is, the office of the President of the United States represents, embodies -- and acts in the interests, and on behalf of -- forces that are much more powerful and influential, less transparent and accountable, and much more immutable than the institution itself and the person who holds the office at any given time.
For those looking hard enough, this may be the most significant conclusion we might draw from--and by extension, one of the principal things by which we remember--the Obama presidency!
Moreover, these "forces" hold at bay any real reform of the system via the dysfunctional, if not by now irredeemably corrupt, democratic process. They remain implacably -- if imperceptibly so for ordinary Americans -- opposed to the exercise of any form of proactive people power.
Aspiring politicians in full knowledge of this reality are though always prepped to pretend otherwise, with election campaigns rarely bereft of populist rhetoric or earnest promise. In this we only need listen to a few of the campaign debates or the various pronouncements by the current motley crop of presidential candidates--Bernie Sanders notwithstanding--and compare the content and substance with the track record and/or personalities of those voicing them.
Now with the country squarely into the business end of arguably its most surreal and divisive political campaigns--the presidential election representing the flagship event of the democratic process--we might contend such an exercise assumes greater urgency going forward.