Monday, August 18, 2008

On Obama

*My dear friend Kristin and I had a conversation yesterday that I told her I'd follow up with a post on her blog. I went to her blog and decided that a 4 page rant-style post probably wasn't what she was looking for, and since that's basically all this blog really is, I figured it was probably more suited for a page that starts with the word "bitch".

We were talking yesterday about this Obama craze and how much it bugs Kristin that people have jumped onto the Obama bandwagon willy nilly, knowing nothing of his policies, knowing nothing of his stance on issues that matter, walking around like they're the big stuff spouting "yes we can" at every opportune moment. It's a national excitement that's hard to overlook, even if Obama support has been a little less glassy eyed as of late. Since Utah takes, in my estimate, at least twice as long to catch up to national trends, it's not surprising that we haven't hit backlash yet in good ol' SLC. People are still singing praises to the skinny black senator, savior of mankind, beautiful orator, hope-filler, wunderkind, with as much enthusiasm as the rest of the nation emitted back in February.

In some ways, I'm happy for them. I find that so few people are interested in politics that even the slightest amount of intelligence or enthusiasm on the subject is sort of encouraging. And, you know, after 8 years of misery spent in a hell of our own making (yes, WE elected that man America...TWICE), I think the concept of a savior has its own appeal. He certainly looks like a savior. Talks like one too. The concept of a presidential figure who was a well-published author before he even had a shot at the presidency is, to me at least, very sexy.

However, a degree in this political stuff, while not giving me a shot at a well-paying job or any sort of scholastic legitimacy in the eyes of my peers (no one respects a political science major, trust me), has taught me one lesson: We all shall fall.

I am voting for Barack. I am excited to vote for Barack. I think he has the potential to be one of the greatest presidents in American history. But he is, at the end of the day, a politician. In deciding to run for the president of the United States, he has ceased to be a man and has become a politician. It is inevitable. He has to do that in order to win. This decision has placed him in a precarious position that in the end, may prove to be his ultimate downfall.

To become a politician instead of a man means that Obama ceases to hold personal opinions. Each opinion he states now has been analyzed for political effectiveness, white-washed to remove potential offensiveness, and processed to be as vague as possible. To become a politician instead of a man means that Obama compromises his personal integrity for the "greater good," the greater good being a shorter term for "whateverisgoingtowintheelection." This means he will back bills and propositions that he would not have backed in the past (the FISA bill being a great example of this). This means he reverses or changes positions he has long held (abortion rights, Iraq war, Afghani war, the decision to not accept public funding for the election) in order to appeal to greater numbers of voters. This means he shills for people who are giving him money to win this campaign (backing "clean coal" is a great example of this...seriously....clean coal!). In order to reach this almost unreachable goal, Obama has turned into a well-oiled political machine, dictated by the most Machiavellian of ideologies: the ends justify the means.

We can't really blame him for this, because we created and supported this system. He is a product of our flaws and failures. The fact that he has to compromise himself to even get to a position where he can do potential good says much about the failure of our system to produce effective government.

The problem is that, by declaring him savior, we are essentially condoning this compromise for the long-term. We expect him to save us from ourselves, not acknowledging that we are creating a monster as he strives to attain that position. A mere man cannot be president. Barack Obama would never be president of the United States. He has to become an aggregate of the masses (the companies, the individuals, the 'demographics') in order to reach that spot and by the time he does it, he will have acquired all our worst characteristics in the process.

We can't give him a green light because without our voices, he will fail. Without our protests and our criticisms and our caution and our policing, he will become just another politician who got to the white house and proceeded to do a little good and a lot of harm. We can't go starry eyed on Obama because he needs us to save him from what he is becoming for our sakes.

He will disappoint. They all do. But, while he still has the capacity to listen (and I believe he does), it's important that we continue to remind him why we are voting for him, and why he has to reach a little farther and become a man again, in the most difficult job in the world.

I hope he can do it. For all our sakes.


New York Sims said...

I know I am really going to get hit hard for saying this...BUT...I still didn't read any "policy"-based reason that you'd vote for him. Maybe I missed the point.

I do think you are right about politicians being "white-washed" (great term!) and vague. I wish we still lived in a country where people could run for president because they had beliefs and will STICK to them....oh wait, that's what our president NOW is doing...George W. Bush.

Nobody likes him because he's doing the EXACT thing you claim you dislike about politicians. And, yes, we did put him there. About 60% of us, though, decided (in large part thanks to our media friends) that we didn't like what he stood for anymore.

I think it's shame on us...for changing with every tide. I respect George Bush for sticking to his guns, even when he is the most unpopular man in history for doing so.

Just my thoughts...thanks for a thought provoking post.

New York Sims said...

Sorry, I meant that he's doing the "EXACT OPPOSITE" thing you claim you dislike......

(my bad)

Rebecca said...

:) Thanks for leaving your comment.

For me, this post was not about why I am personally voting for Obama (though I would be happy to tick off the many reasons), but rather an explanation of why I think it is important not to go all starry eyed on him. I feel that if the people get too caught up in Obamamania, they will fail to hold Obama accountable for his actions- the one thing that he most needs as he gains more power.

I am saying, in essence, that if we do not want Obama to become another George Bush (one who took the good faith of the people and turned it into ruination with his arrogance and belief that he had a public "directive"), we need to start criticizing Obama before he gets to the point where, like Bush, he ceases to listen to criticism. I don't support people who remain firm on their principles, regardless of facts. I support people who remain committed to the betterment of the people who they represent. I realize by saying that, that it turns it into a moral "grey" area since you cannot determine intent, but I think the ability to listen to criticism and respond to it is crucial. Obama has done this admirably in the past, forming bipartisanship that is not typical of our current political climate, and holding himself personally accountable when his actions are questioned. I am saying that I do not want to see this change. I am saying that I want this man to continue to feel pressure from the people and he cannot feel pressure when he's riding a wave of adulation.

One could argue that that is what George Bush has done, but considering he has the lowest approval rating in the history of a United States president, I would argue that he has not lived up to a commitment to represent PEOPLE who supported him, and has instead ruthlessly supported companies and interest groups that have given incentives to his friends and family and pandered to his narcissistic ideology.

New York Sims said...

Now that I've re-read it I see more what your post was intended to mean. And I think I agree with your point, in essence. =] Thanks for the most "adult" discussion I've had a long time. -Mel (I'm Kristin's cousin)

Rebecca said...

Oh no, thank you. I appreciate thoughtful questioning and pointed critiques- it makes me think! I read your comment on Kristin's page and would be interested in your reasons behind supporting McCain, simply out of curiosity. :)

duff said...

As I read all this I have one thought and that is when "politicians" have their convictions but let's say they don't want to appear arrogant (and maybe they are truly humble) and they listen to another point of view (for the sake of not being "arrogant") and say change their view--the popular buzz term now days is flipflopper. Most of the so called "facts" are convoluded at best. What I'm trying to say is I don't think conviction is synonomous with arrogance. Your right about this being the toughest, hardest job anyone can have. I don't particularly like McCain, but I feel he is much more prepared to make rational decisions. We are in a real difficult time and as a country we can't dance around our challenges anymore. We need to have good plans with long range fore-sight. If Obama gets elected I will love to hear everyone's Obama accolades in 4 years. (I will eat humble pie if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.)

Kris said...

Here with my cousin 'new york sims' and she was telling me how great it was to be able to post on your site and have a "dispassionate political conversation" (Bill H. term) Completely forgot you have this here blog and loved, once again, LOVED reading your thoughts wonderfully articulated about what is going on. Maybe you should get into politics Beck :) Curious about Sarah Palin?

aimee heff said...

Very interesting discussion! I love the political season.

Rebecca, I am a friend of Kristin and supporter of Obama and a liberal born and raised (parental modeling is true for at least 2 out of 4 of my parent's children!).

I appreciate what you said about putting him on a pedestal, so to speak. I feel many great people become crappy politicians. This saddens me but I hold hope that things can be different... someday... whether with Obama or with someone else down the road. I wish that someday there is a person in the office that can be both - a great man and a great politician. Is it the power that distracts presidents from living into their best selves?

Does anyone believe that this could be possible? Or can they not exist in the same place at the same time?