Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Excess Of Unreasonable Expectations

For all those who voted for Barack Obama, who thought that he would sweep into Washington, D.C. and cast out the political demons of money, power, and influence, much as Jesus cleansed the Temple, I have news for you: wasn't going to happen. You knew it, too; you knew, deep down, that over two hundred years of ingrained political glad-handing was not going to be erased by one man in one Presidential term. Still, there was, dare I say, hope. Hope that he would be different. Hope that the change he represented would sweep out like a tidal wave, engulfing the power-hungry minions of The Monied Powers and restore order. And while it's true that a wave starts with but a single drop of water, it gets its power from the billions of other drops that join it in surging forward.

So, we anointed the man, broke down a barrier many thought insurmountable, and swept him into office. Then, staggeringly, we sat back and waited. And waited. And waited. Waited for the change to appear. Waited for the exodus from Washington, D.C., of those who had long made profit of their power. And still, many wait, forgetting that the maxim that change requires action, and the action of one man would not be enough to turn back the corruption rife within the denizens of the nation's capitol. We abandoned him to his fate and now have the temerity to claim he is not fighting for us.

One begins to wonder if we are not the victims of our own beliefs, that so much has changed in the world, that the election of a black President would somehow finalize the destruction of the "way things used to be." Perhaps, wrongly, we were certain this would be the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, and segregation, and discrimination, and the division of the nation into colors and types. Did we think President Obama would be the bogeyman to come along and scare away all those who had been hiding behind their power and privilege, a modern-day Moses come to take us from our bondage to The Monied Powers?

If we did, then we severely underestimated the tenacity of privilege, and overestimated the raw strength one man could turn to the task of rooting out the corruption of our political process and forms of governance. The beast was not in some state of repose, resting from the beatings it took during the era of civil rights and Vietnam; it was simply lying in wait for the next sacrifice to be thrown its way. We obliged. The villagers cowered behind the rocks, as their knight-in-shining armor was sent into the dragon's lair, armed only with what he could carry. That he should emerge scorched and battered is no great shock.

What gave us the idea that, once elected, he no longer needed our help? In case you have forgotten your American history classes, let me point out that he is the sole occupant of the Executive Branch, beholden to the Legislative Branch (Congress) for the legislation that he must deal with, and warily eyed by the Judiciary Branch, to ensure that he and the Legislative do not overstep their bounds. He is not a tyrant, not a dictator, not a monarch. He is part of a system of governance, one part in a troika that is tasked by The People to run the nation by the expedient of the Constitution of the United States, the document that outlines the purpose for our union and the rules by which it will be operated. His power is limited; he cannot simply wave his magic wand and create change. For that he needs the help of Congress... and us.

Yes, that's right: just because we elect a President or members of Congress, does not mean our work is done. If our expectations be that we can send these people into the belly of the beast and turn our backs to them to go about our lives, we cannot stand slack-jawed as we look around and realize that things are not the way we would like them. We may elect representation, and in a perfect world they might be thought to require no guidance form us, but we cannot assume that what happens in Washington, D.C. has anything to do with what really matters to us. Placed in the political cage, our representatives are no more than gladiators now, fighting each other to death for supremacy through the auspices of political parties. The disconnect between what happens in the ring, and what needs to happen out here, could not be more stark.

So, it was wholly unreasonable to think that President Obama could simply wave a hand and part the politics, especially when he had no backup from us. You cannot hand the President a mandate and then slink back to the safety of your easy chair, and then be appalled because you think he is "not doing anything." The fact is, the President works hard for us every day, and receives little but scorn for it, because he cannot work miracles. True, he has himself to blame for it, partially; he sought the approval of the masses, and so claimed he would work tirelessly to turn the tide of politics. He may have done so under the assumption -- invalid, as it seems -- that we would all be right behind him, exhorting our lawmakers to follow the man's lead and to begin to make the changes required to bring about a rebirth of governance. Instead, we turned back to our televisions, and the man has spent three years in pitched battle, with his own party, and with the "loyal" opposition, trying to get things done, and receiving very little congratulations for the the things he has accomplished.

turn the tide. Even now, he scans the horizon, wondering if help will arrive in time. So I ask of you: will you march into the maw and help rout The Monied Powers, or will you sit in your tent like Achilles, and sulk? The fate of a nation depends on you, and the man who would lead us to a brighter future cannot wait much longer for you to make up your mind to help.

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