• Barack Obama And The Soft Bigotry Of High Expectations.

    Der Spiegel has a comprehensive article on President Barack Obama. While it mainly focuses on his perceived failure to "deliver," it also hits upon why the president hasn't been able to achieve much in the way of a Democratic agenda, from GOP obstructionism as election strategy and a polarization of political lines at the expense of those in the "center" to political apathy and frustration. It's a far more thorough read than anything you'd get from other outlets in the U.S., which is a damned shame.

    It also hits upon something I haven't been able to articulate until now: the growing number of people who say they're "done" with Obama because he hasn't given them what they wanted. The below is the perfect counter to all of the talk of how Obama hasn't done this or that for whatever reason, given that many people fail to look at the political realities before deciding to ditch him on the grounds of political idealism:

    To fairly judge his presidency, one has to go through the list of his kept and broken promises. Based on that criterion, Obama's performance falls within the "above-average" category when compared to the 11 US presidents since World War II. It is a modest success, the kind that many politicians would welcome. But it cannot seriously be enough for Obama.

    And despite a long list of achievements, it's never enough. People have expected so much from one single human being that when he proves to be just as human as the rest of us, they become absolutely crestfallen to the point of disavowing their support for him.

    A lot of that disappointment stems from promises, many made, some imagined and many of them subsequently broken. For instance, many people wanted to see America's overseas military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq come to an end. While both conflicts have drawn down and the vast majority of soldiers and personnel removed from the theater, people see the president's willingness to continue drone attacks as a betrayal of sorts. Many people wanted the War on Terror to end full-stop.

    Many people wanted the president to use his office as a bully pulpit a la Lyndon Baines Johnson to push valuable legislation through a Congress packed with legislators willing to play obstructionists to the satisfaction of their constituents and the Tea Party. The obstructionism got worse after a big GOP sweep in 2010, leaving Congress with a definite Republican majority in the House and a near 50/50 split in the Senate. The president has preferred to steer clear of the bully pulpit in favor of the appearance of bipartisanship, knowing full well that the GOP wouldn't play ball unless it involved legislation that could benefit them, hurt him or both in some way. This has had a knock-on effect of making the Republicans seem even more unreasonable and obstinate than usual, but it also makes the president seem weak to most eyes.

    Then there's the infamous dustup over the NDAA, which seems to be one of the most misunderstood pieces of law to be passed. A good read of Sections 1021 and 1022 show that American citizens are specifically excluded from the provisions regarding Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Nevertheless, this portion was misconstrued by many as an end-run for federal officials detaining American citizens for as long as they pleased, never mind that state and local authorities already have the power to detain American citizens, largely with quasi-judicial means of highly questionable legality.

    In an era where millions are drowning in student loan and credit card debt, with many losing their homes to foreclosure and their livelihoods due to layoffs and cutbacks, they see the bailouts of the major banks and the automotive industry, Obama's apparent reluctance to end the Bush tax cuts and the seeming inability to push policy that aids the middle and lower classes as proof positive of Obama's allegiance to Wall Street and the "0.01-percent." They see CEOs receiving untold millions of dollars while those same companies continue to lay off workers. They are not happy with what they're seeing and they expected more of the president.

    Scores of liberals expected President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to go after the Bush Administration with a vengeance and given the amount of political corruption that's occurred during those eight years, there's plenty of reason to do just that. However, they haven't, in the interests of "looking forward." And that's something that pisses off many people to no end. The closest analogy for this is Ford pardoning Nixon.

    Black Americans expected more of Obama when it came to racial issues. Most understood how he had to work for the common good of all Americans, but they can't help but feel like their concerns are being forever relegated to the back burner. It's sparked questions about whether he really understands the plight and concerns of black Americans, given his origins from an African father and his upbringing by a white mother in an environment that is remarkably different from those experienced by "actual" black Americans. This becomes more apparent in light of Trayvon Martin, the current push by several states to disenfranchise as many Democrat voters as possible and many other racially sensitive issues.

    Many people wanted to see the president ease up on the War on Drugs, specifically Marijuana. Instead, they've seen the complete opposite, with increased raids on legal medical marijuana dispensaries. Some see how he wants to follow federal law on this issue, see what appears to be a blatant disregard of it in their eyes when it comes to military and law enforcement matters and it's easy to see why many on the liberal aisle feel shortchanged.

    It's what happens when you have "Change" as a political slogan. The more things "Change," the chances are the more will stay the same. That makes the apparent lack of change even more apparent.

    So many people are becoming disillusioned with Obama's performance this term that they're actively dumping their support of him, either by not voting at all or by voting for a third party candidate. Many have promised to write-in their own candidate whenever possible. These things are possible when runoff elections are a possibility and support for multiple parties tenable, but in a winner-takes-all setting, all it does is throw more support to the GOP candidate.

    Come to think of it, that's mainly what the GOP is counting on. Their candidate is so weak that they're praying for Democrats to create their own failure. They recognize that cheating people out of a vote isn't going to work if double or triple the number of people cheated out of their votes are energized into voting for Obama. Instead, they're hoping that so many people become fed up with Obama that Mitt Romney squeaks by in a close heat. And that's pretty much all the GOP needs.

    Many people hold the mistaken belief that bum-rushing the "bum" Obama out of office will teach the Democrats "a valuable lesson" and that their defeat will lead to a rise of a "pure" progressive candidate who hews closely to progressive/left-wing ideals. That's not gonna happen. At best, the Democrats will once again take from this the "validation" of right-wing politics and thus shape their next candidate to lean more towards the right in certain areas. At worse, there might not be another Democrat candidate for president, let alone for anything else. The GOP wouldn't mind if the U.S. became a one-party nation - the political prosecution of Don Siegelman is just a small sample of what Republicans wouldn't mind happening to aspiring and successful Democrat leaders.

    People who think that a Democrat loss will simply give the party time to rebuild in the off-season will face a rude awakening once a victorious GOP guided by the Tea Party, religious fundamentalism and racial bigotry really starts getting down to business. Many Democrats, especially those "emoprogs" who abide by the "perpetual underdog" mythos, will probably be too busy rationalizing this big loss to one another to see the gates of opportunity slamming shut. Make no mistake, these four years are considered a "fluke" as far as the GOP's concerned. Never again will there be a black man in the White House and, if they can help it, never again will there be a Democrat in the White House. Don't forget those Supreme Court vacancies that will undoubtedly be filled with staunchly conservative justices by a conservative president "encouraged" by staunchly conservative interests.

    Allowing President Obama to get bounced out of office "validates" the GOP's ideals and its mission to permanently maintain control of the nation's destiny for as long as they see fit, which according to the beliefs and intents of many Republicans, means "forever." It's not clear whether Obama's second term will end up a lot like his first. After all, there's a lot a "lame duck" can do if he's in the position of no longer giving a toss about his own election chances, as he isn't facing election for anything else anytime soon.