*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.