Wednesday, November 5, 2014
MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2014: REPUBLICAN WAVE WASHES OVER COUNTRY
OBAMA: THE LAMEST OF LAME DUCKS
THE RACE ABOUT RACE
TAGS: REPUBLICANS GAIN SENATE MAJORITY, DEMOCRATS RAN AWAY
FROM PRESIDENT, OBAMA ILL-PREPARED FOR HIS OFFICE,
RACIAL UNDERCURRENTS, OVERT RACISM IN CAMPAIGNS,
AMERICA WAS “NOT READY” FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA
(Wednesday November 5, 2014 Washington, DC) There is no need for extensive post-election analysis. No time should be spent by commentators and pundits, pollsters and political operatives espousing their own pet theories regarding the huge red wave that swept Republicans into Office from coast to coast. The Republicans now control the Senate and the House of Representatives and, the agenda is theirs to set. They now have legislative carte blanche to do as they please and in the process can dismantle as many of the legislative actions President Obama has signed into law in the last six years. After all, that is what this election was all about. To claim otherwise is to be disingenuous at best, naive’ or at worst. The fallacy of a “post-racial” America was always just that – a fallacy; a sort of haze that first seemed to offer hope but rapidly revealed the true nature of our society, our politics and especially our politicians.
For openers Dick Cheney and his moronic sidekick George W. Bush made Barak Obama possible. Had it not been for the monumentally disastrous eight years of Cheney and Bush, their wars of choice, the financial collapse and all the ramifications and fallout from what could have been a complete financial collapse akin to the Great depression of 1929, the country never would have voted in a landslide for an unknown, untested, first term junior Senator from Illinois with the exotic sounding name. By the time Cheney and Bush were in their last years in the White House the country was exhausted from all that had taken place under their negligent, inept, neo-con pleasing watch. People wanted change and, for many reasons that have been studied and analyzed, a broad coalition of the voting public saw Obama as an agent of change, while others would have voted for a turnip; anyone to wash the sour taste of the Bush/Cheney debacle out of their mouths.
The country was clearly not “ready” for a Black president. It cannot be said any simpler. Not only was the country not ready for an African American in the White House, they were surely not prepared for this particular man, this particular Black man. After his first inauguration he was granted a honeymoon of a sort as the Congress and Washington insiders slowly observed and studied the man looking for cues as to what made him tick, what indelible core beliefs did he hold and would be willing to fight for, what would be his agenda? It did not take the Congress and the other rabid wolves in Washington, DC to size him up as a cautious, contemplative cat; an unemotional, seemingly untroubled intellect that would approach the many and varied demands of his Office in his own unique style. But it was more than “style” that puzzled the seasoned politicos. What they initially perceived as style was actually the true man; he was the way he was because that is the way he is. He is a self-contained, hard to read, slow to anger, contemplative, thoughtful intellectual and he brought all those inherent traits to the most difficult job in the country. He was not what anyone expected and his honeymoon was short lived.
The rapid rise of Obama was propelled not only by the public’s weariness from the Cheney/Bush years; there was a huge grassroots effort to register voters in minority communities, young people on college campuses and others who were unaccustomed to or had never voted before. Yes, it was indeed a broad coalition; a potent force powerful enough to defeat the durable, well-oiled “Clinton Machine” that was at Hillary’s disposal during the bruising primary. Once the primary was over and Obama was the Democrat’s standard bearer, the real "retail politicking” began in earnest and it became a self-perpetuating beast feeding off the uncharacteristic engagement of so many regular citizens and, of course, a tsunami of Hollywood money, trial lawyers donations, and other left-leaning organizations and individuals and their fat wallets.
Obama was a good campaigner. He drew ever increasingly large crowds of vocal supporters and fed off their energy often delivering soaring rhetoric with a Baptist preacher’s cadence. But he would soon find out that his Office required far, far more than inspiring oratory; he had work to do in the face of what would come to be the most recalcitrant, obstructionist, partisan, corrupt, bigoted opposition Party in Congress than ever before had been seen in American politics. The sleazy, turkey-necked slug from Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised in a speech just days after the President’s inauguration to make President Obama, “A one term President”. The open warfare between the new President and the sharp elbowed Republicans on The Hill was declared.
Once Barak Obama became President Obama the ugly “dog whistle” catch phrases and turns of phrases were amplified. The “birthers” accusations that he was an illegitimate President vociferously claiming without evidence that he was born in Kenya and that he was a closet Muslim with an “anti-American” agenda consumed untold hours of talk radio and cable “newsertainment” programs. The Right said that he had associated with radical groups such as the Black Panthers while in college and controversial African American activists while working in Chicago. The Right was merciless, vile but oh so effective. They raised so many issues without relenting that President Obama’s popularity poll numbers went into a slow but steady decline by his first summer in Office.
By 2008 Americans were tired; the eight previous years had taken their toll. Beginning with the al Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the omnipresent risk of more terrorist activity here at home while one percent of our sons and daughters fought wars on two distant and separate – actually disparate – fronts, the notion of endless war began to eat away at the national psyche; a psyche with a miserably short attention span accustomed to a fast paced, interconnected culture. Then the banks began to fail. Their criminal recklessness, sleazy financial practices with no government or other oversight, and the bursting of the “housing bubble” saw many people loose homes, life savings and jobs. As the unemployment rate rose there emerged a segment of the populace who had fallen off the radar. These folks were the ranks of millions of “long-term unemployed” ineligible for government benefits as well as the millions of under-employed workers struggling to earn a living wage often working more than one job. Nationwide the squeeze was on the shrinking “middle class” with no tangible, practical relief in sight. Though the genesis of each of these bleeding open wounds to our economy were the result of Cheney/Bush actions or inactions, it was head spinning to watch as the Right Wing deftly placed the blame for all of it squarely at the feet of our new President. With a unified, defiant, and determined Republican Party ready to launch a full frontal assault on the new Administration and Obama in particular, for some reason the White House and the Democratic Party allowed the Republican Party to write the narrative that quickly became recognized as truth by ill and under informed citizens. Their anger grew with their frustration.
But there was much more than that at work in society. The cold undercurrent of racism coursed through what counted as the political discourse of the day. People began to see, with the prodding of conservative politicians and right wing media, President Obama as a disengaged, aloof “empty suit” and by his nature he would not counter their arguments and assertions; he took the high road and was determined to remain above the fray. He profoundly misjudged the sentiments on The Hill as well as the amount of power he actually had as President. He did not have the long Congressional resume that other Presidents had; he had not been in the Senate long enough to develop relationships that he could have enlisted to navigate legislation through that slow moving chamber.
The naïve’ idealism of many joined by those who voted for Obama in the hope that once he and his family stepped over the threshold at 1600 – Pennsylvania Avenue, that his Presidency would usher in a new dawn, a “post-racial” America. Unfortunately, just the opposite occurred. Once in the White House and in the seat of power it did not take long before the thin layer of dust of overt racism that had settled over the years, that has always been just below the surface in segments of our society, was blown away and the insidious serpent of bigotry and racism re-awakened.
In our society tectonic shifts happen at a glacial crawl. Cleary in 2008 we were not at all ready for a Black President. Even the most cursory examination of our history since the end of World War II is ripe with examples of groups of people seeking civil rights, equality in employment and housing, as well as all the Constitutional rights Caucasian Americans are automatically granted by birthright. Yes, the pace of change in America is slow. It was 80 years after our Civil War that African Americans began to be afforded equal and voting rights and all the same protections under the law as are available to White Americans. Many of the African Americans of a certain age who cast their vote for Barak Obama were merely one generation removed from slavery. All Americans born up to the mid to late 1950’s can recall the various “White Only” and “Black Only” sections of buses, diners, water fountains and many other places. So the promise of a President Obama was inflated and doomed to burst; the widespread resentment and some outright hatred cast a pall over parts of the country, blocs of citizens who did not believe we should have a Black President simply because we never have.
Everything President Obama did was scrutinized, dissected, and ultimately found to be flawed or misguided by the Republicans. He never received any credit for some of the actions he took immediately after he took Office to save the failing “Big Three” automobile manufacturers, extend unemployment benefits, pass a stimulus package, all without any support on the other side of the aisle. The slender Senate majority he had to work with was often too concerned with how their constituents would view their votes and some Democrats did not support the President’s initiatives fearing a backlash back in their home district.
It can be argued that the Presidency of Barak Obama has set racial relations in America back perhaps as far as a generation. This is the result of the misguided concept of what we “need” in our elected officials. There are many ethnic and racial groups that have not been represented in the highest positions in the government and we elect candidates because “we haven’t had (insert race, gender or ethnicity) yet.” Obama’s Presidency clearly illustrates just how much further we need to go before we are truly ready for the best candidate based on experience and merit; not one who is meant to pacify one group or another.
The 2016 presidential race is already gearing up and many on the Left and in the Democratic Party see Hillary Clinton as their standard bearer. Her candidacy should be based on her experiences, intellect, knowledge and merit, not her gender. We should not elect Hillary Clinton simply because we haven’t had a woman president before. Change in American politics and society is at a snail’s pace and any efforts to accelerate change usually backfire in dreadful ways.
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