19 November 2010

Is This The Best We Can Do?

--Senator Barack Obama, February 5, 2008

That day I cast my first vote for Barack Obama for President, in the Arizona Democratic primary.  I had actually lived in the 1st District of Illinois in 2000 when Obama made his first unsuccessful run for Congress, taking on former Black Panther and Chicago political institution Rep. Bobby Rush in the Democratic primary, but I didn't vote until the November general election, and like most of America had never even heard of the man until 2004 when he shot onto the political scene with a breathtaking speech at the Democratic National Convention.

I was not a believer right away, however.  Not that I was a doubter, I just wasn't a convert and a zealot.  In the fall of 2007, after much careful deliberation, I decided that I was going to support Chris Dodd for the Democratic nomination.  Of the many Democrats running for the nomination, Dodd was the one who was saying and doing the right things in Congress that first year that the Bush stranglehold had been lifted.  Hillary was a non-starter, Edwards said the right things but I just wasn't buying what he was selling, Biden had good days and bad.  Obama was always a second or third choice.

I'm not really going to get into what it was that changed my mind.  After Iowa, it was either Obama or Edwards, and no doubt I would have landed on Obama by default.  But in the end, like millions of others, there was a revelatory moment when Obama landed an arrow right in the center of my heart and then there was no question anymore.  Not only was he the best choice, he was the best PERSON.  This is a GREAT MAN, of the type I'd never known in all my years of following politics.  The type of man that I can imagine people perceived men like Roosevelt and Lincoln to have been.

After all that has happened in the nearly three years that have now passed, I am every bit as convinced of the greatness of this man, and this is why I am even more convinced that all hope is lost for a better world.  In flipping through the channels a few days ago, I came across Superman II, and the scene that was on was the one where General Zod and his crew are fighting Superman in downtown Metropolis and basically kicking his ass and breaking lots of shit.  At first the people watching believe that the bad guys have killed Superman, and then they are even more disappointed when it turns out that he's not dead, but he still flies away in defeat.

That's how I feel about Washington these days.  The best man, the greatest leader of men of his generation, and he gets to the position where he can do the maximum amount of good possible and ends up getting owned by the putrid swamp of Kryptonite on the Potomac.  Hoards of small, small men like Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Mitch McConnell, teaming with the vast majority of elected officials and media personalities who are wholly owned by the plutocratic, obscenely moneyed elite to stop anything and everything that count as real and lasting change for the better.

2008 was kind of our last best chance at stopping the decline of the American civilization.  It was a slim chance, I admit, but we had all the tools we needed.  We had a great inspiring leader in the White House and massive majorities in both houses of Congress.  But it didn't happen.  Was Obama too green to navigate the minefield?  Too timid?  Too naive in his belief that the Republicans wanted anything other than to destroy him and that "bi-partisanship" always means liberal capitulation to conservatives?

So this is the best we can do, huh?  I'm afraid it is.  No wonder why Democrats didn't come out to vote this month.

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