A Hopeless Citizen

I was such an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama when he first ran for office and I’m so disappointed in his second term—the time he would be able to really put his ideals into practice! I rarely speak his name any longer. During his first campaign I held meeting in my home, canvassed the neighborhood, and raised hundreds of dollars. I also wrote a book inspired by the president, entitled Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability. I honestly believed that is we each took responsibility for our nation as individuals we could make a collective difference. Now I delete the emails I receive from his administration, and although I’ve always been a political junkie, I’m now less interested than I’ve ever been. It scares me to be this apathetic. I know that as a citizen, it’s my job to hold our politicians accountable. But I’ve stopped watching any political shows, even the funny ones like Bill Maher’s. I just can’t stomach the conversations.

I’m probably so deeply disappointed and disheartened because I wanted the first black president to also be one badass, superfly president. I hoped he’d change the world like, Jesus Christ. I did. I have to admit it, I drank the entire bucket of Kool-Aide, and if Obama had the same agenda as Jim Jones, I’d be dead by now.

Don’t get me wrong, he has some accomplished some things that make me proud to be an American. The administration’s work on LBGT rights has changed the lives of millions, a few of whom are my friends and family. Obama is for the LGBT community what Johnson was for the African American community, and it gives me great joy to have a group that was once forced to hide themselves be welcomed to the table to share in the birthright of being fully human.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act, with all its flaws, is still a huge move in the direction of health care for all. It offers access to care to those once uninsurable, young adults, women, and Americans with preexisting conditions. He has made insurance attainable for millions who once lived in fear of getting sick because the cost of treatment was out of their reach. I applaud his efforts and benefit from them.

However, when it comes to foreign policy, I’m gravely disappointed. I hate that we send our children off to war for the sake of other nations, and I hate Obama’s use of drones in Pakistan. The thought of one innocent baby dying in the arms of its mother is unconscionable and inexcusable. I think Americans see the world through entitled lenses, happy so long as the people dying are “over there.” We all have blood on our hands.  Obama has not changed our policy on war and our engagement with nations at war in any way that makes me proud. He is more of the same, just slower to rouse. Lastly, it is seems liberals and progressives have just put their heads in the sand or decided to rally behind this new call for war. I heard a friend of mine suggest that the French striking means that this is really bad and that Obama has been really thoughtful. I disagree completely that Obama is thoughtful. Ask the mothers of innocent children harmed in drone strikes about his thoughtfulness. One friend praised him for being strategic in killing Osama. Blood for blood has become the battle war cry of people who once condemned George W. Bush for going into Iraq.

What frightens me the most is my former innocence; the idea that someone different will do something different in this highest office in the land. “Oh, the black man with all his wonderful words and elegant speeches will save us,” I thought. But he did not. “Surely Hillary will come and rescue us. A woman can bring the difference we desire and deserve!” is the new anthem I hear. But it seems the highest office in the land has a way of corrupting the seemingly incorruptible.

Yes, I’m pissed at myself for believing that Obama would be different. I projected all my dreams upon the great black hope, believing he truly was someone exceptional; he would fundamentally change the trajectory of the nation. As I write this piece, holding my head in between sentences, I feel guarded and weary about our political future as we enter into yet another war. These boys and their wars are completely out of hand, and I fear some part of me will drink another dose of Kool-Aide, believing Hillary Clinton’s womanhood might be the thing that makes the difference. But I doubt it. This current disappointment sits so deeply I think it’s smothered my innocence for good.

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