Happy 2010, everyone. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, lets get down to brass tacks, shall we?
To say I'm disappointed by the Obama presidency thus far would be an understatement. Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not part of the nutcase nation of "birthers," "tea-baggers," or anyone else who believes Obama's plans for health care and the like will lead America down a slippery slope towards Big Brother, a socialist state, or worse.
Quite the opposite, actually.
What, and who, I am is an unemployed slob who is merely taking up the space the rest of you freely breathe in. Never mind the circumstances, because to the far right they matter naught. I'm good at what I do, I've been been out of work for a year now, and nobody seems to give a shit except for maybe Bruce Springsteen. God bless ya, Boss. Now can I become your employee?
I am in fact part of the millions of Americans who enthusiastically supported Obama's historic presidential campaign in 2008. Because we believed what the man said in all those "yes, we can" speeches. My one question is, where are all those reassuring speeches now?
For those of us old enough to remember, Obama reminded us of all the hope and change embodied by the real agents of change we grew up on — the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, and the like. For those of you much younger, I figure he represented a new hope for the future of those most invested in it.
So far, about a year or so and counting in, it hasn't happened.
Not even close. In fact, things seem to me to be more the same then they ever were.
But before you include me in the rightie-talker types looking to explode their hopes for a return to the neo-Con Bush years, you'd best think again. Still, much as it pains me to say it, the Obama presidency so far, for all the hopes it represented, looks a hell of a lot like more of the same from where I sit.
Rush Limbaugh and his friends can rest reassured. Obama may in fact be the black man you most feared as a challenge to the status quo. But he ain't about to challenge the way your corporate, money-grubbing pals do their business. Far from it.
They will still get their yearly multimillion dollar bonuses, and Tiny Tim will continue to wait for Scrooge to bring a Merry Christmas to those who work hardest, yet reap the fewest rewards.
In the real world, there is no such Ghost of Christmas past, nor is there likely to be one anytime soon. Yes, we can? How about no, we can't?
The difference these days can be traced back to a classic MLK speech, where he said that he yearned for a day when people would not be judged not by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character. These days, you can just as easily swap the whole "color of their skin" thing for the size of their pocketbook. Or rather, the lack thereof. It's all about economics.
I have lots of friends whose political leanings come down on either side of the ideological spectrum. My conservative friends (at least the ones who haven't been blinded by their religious views), believe that progressive Democrats want to lead us into a world where a socialized state mandates everything from your choice of a doctor to your personal grocer. Shudder the thought…
My liberal leaning friends, on the other hand, see a vast right-wing conspiracy where Big Brother stands with goose-stepping nationalists standing at the ready to march us off into ill-advised wars, concentration camps, and worse. Where that light in your bedroom may just conceal a camera, and where your bookshelf could come under the scrutiny of the neo-fascist police.
It's all such bullshit.
In reality, the bottom line is that it all comes down to economics. That's the real truth. It's about the haves and the have-nots. And right now, the "haves" are doing everything they possibly can to make sure that peasants like you and me continue to have not.
There is no New World Order waiting in the wings to shrink us all down to a population of the right wing elite, much as the Bush and the Clinton bashers would like you to believe. And there is no left wing conspiracy to make us all slaves to an all-encompassing state that tells where and when we can take a piss.
It's about the money. As in you and me, baby. Gay marriage? Abortion? It's all bullshit, designed purely as a distraction. The real battle is about who is going to make the money, and who is not.
What there is, my friends, is an economic war on the lower and middle classes. It has been going on since at least the '80s when Uncle Ronnie busted the unions, and it continues to this day unabated under a media which no longer appears to give a shit.
Eight years of the George Bush presidency ramped this war up to unprecedented levels. The oil companies, the multinational interests, the pharmaceutical conglomerates — they were all given a free ride under Bush. Remember four-dollar-a-gallon gas?
And those job interviews… good God! Where did that constitution go anyway?
Out the window, that's where. Bush not only did it for his buddies at Enron and the like. He got away with it! The question is, how do we un-do it?
I mean, how does a regular guy even have a chance in this economy? Between the scams out there on the job boards that prey unmercifully on the under- or unemployed, and the sort of personally invasive interview tactics used by potential employers (ever had a traffic ticket? ever been fired? ever screwed up even once in your life?), who has even has a fighting chance?
I voted for Barack Obama for one reason — and that is because I believed all of that "yes, we can" bullshit he represented. Those speeches moved me, and he truly reminded me of everything I ever hoped was still possible.
But what I see now disturbs me much. Obama's cabinet is stacked with the same corporate types who wrecked the economy for ordinary, working class Joes like you and me. And I'm still trolling the job boards for anything that isn't a scam preying on those who have found themselves in this unfortunate circumstance.
Hire me, dammit. I'm good. Honest.
Last night, I watched a show on VH1 about the '70s that brought back how good-thinking people can make a difference. We seem to be asleep these days, but in this new year, I think it's inevitable we are going to wake up.
Fix it, Mr. Obama. Please. Grow a set. Otherwise, you can look forward to a one-term presidency.