President Barack Obama attends the memorial service in Tucson, Arizona for victims of the shooting there. 01/12/11. (photo: Getty Images)
What died along with Jack Kennedy on November 22, 1963, was the notion that a popularly-elected leader could effect change from the Oval Office. The remains of that day were an understanding that attempting to challenge the power structure could have consequences even for the president.
Barack Obama brings deep flaws to his perspective of the presidency. The administration's ongoing campaign of extra-judicial assassination, a cold shoulder to the systemic oppression of civil liberties, a Justice Department that stands blind and mute as corporate corruption devours the soul of the nation, an indifference to environmental suicide that borders on contempt. It's all there. Yet, somehow there is a crucial glimmer of understanding in him that will not allow hope to be extinguished.
It is difficult to know if Mitt Romney's bald-face lying is intended to convince voters or himself, or is simply symptomatic of some pathological disorder. When he says that he wants to be president without releasing his tax returns or information about his Cayman Islands bank accounts, what he is really saying is that he views the Oval Office as an acquisition, a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder -- at a profit of course.
What we learned in the Occupy encampments is that change does not come from the top, it comes from the bottom. The struggle to re-establish American democracy has only just begun. It's not likely that a leader of the American Pro-Democracy Movement will occupy the Oval Office any time soon. But Obama is by orders of magnitude more likely to recognize and respect change when confronted with it than Romney would ever be.
He is not the progressive lion we dreamed he would be, but he still stands. We must construct a strategy for grass-roots change around the better man. Barack Obama is clearly that.