Archive for Obama

…you allow your dogma to overwhelm reality.

Posted in All, Faux Elitism, Inconsiderate & Rude, Pop Culture, Stupid Trends with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2011 by oooranje

Another way to say this is that you let what, according to you, should be, supersede any consideration of what actually is, whether because you can’t, as a matter of personal taste and nicety, accept the status quo, or because your view of the world is too fragile to allow any dissent.

To illustrate this, consider first the example of gay marriage and, indeed, homosexuals in the United States.  In my experience, and among my friends and family, the only people who seem to think that homosexuality is a choice and not a full-on given are those who have no gay friends (I believe in spectrum theory but some people are definitely all the way gay/lesbian).  Anyone who is truly friends with a gay man or woman can tell you, their sexual preference is not a matter of putting on airs or sexual perversion; it is who they are and how they think.  Claiming otherwise is an insult.  Legislating and denying rights based on a spurious, pseudo-scientific claim to the contrary is morally indefensible and the height of self-righteous arrogance.

Similarly, meanwhile, with the retirement of the baby boomer generation and the rolling recession we now find ourselves struggling through, comes the new reality that we live in a world that cannot afford the entitlements we have promised ourselves.  Nothing has brought this into starker focus than the debt ceiling crisis, not because the Tea Party-demanded cuts did anything to actually solve the underlying situation, but more importantly because of the ballooning national debt that underscored the discussion.

Much has been made, on both sides, of how much might be saved if we cut military spending, or Medicare/Medicaid spending, but whatever your preferred choice of cuts, the reality is inescapable: our government’s income is not only unequal to the massive array of entitlement programs we have piled onto our nation’s credit bill, but is horrifyingly miniscule by comparison.  While rolling national debt may not be inescapable at this point, while a zero balance may be a thing of history, there is on some level the clear and unmistakable reality here that we are living – and spending – on borrowed time and money.  At some point, the interest on our national debt will overwhelm our half-hearted attempts to repay it, and then we will see serious downgrading and its devastating effects.

The truth is that we, the United States, cannot afford the cost of our good intentions.  We cannot afford to be magnanimous to all newcomers, fight a fully fledged (and debatably disastrous) War on Terror, subsidize public education including the increasingly worthless English degrees of countless graduates who honestly have no place at liberal arts colleges in the first place, and support union drives for higher salaries.  And that doesn’t include international aid spending, manufacturing subsidies and tax breaks, pork barreling and – oh yes – the truly staggering price tag of the new and frankly infeasible universal healthcare plan.

Over the next ten years, this fact will become unmistakable.  America in particular, but also the world in general face a choice, now: we can either adjust our expectations, entitlements, and proud humanistic intentions to something more in line with what we can actually afford, or we can hold to our dogma – and go screaming and weeping into the pantomime theatrics of corrupt, ineffective, and unproductive countries such as Greece and Portugal.

…you were a HUGE Obama supporter last November but have been disappointed by the lack of progress on his agenda.

Posted in All with tags , , on November 2, 2009 by oooranje

obamaA year ago, this would have been ‘you’re not a special for being a HUGE Obama supporter’, because back then and for months prior, everyone acted like Obama was some next-gen indie pop band that they and they alone had discovered. Appearing now, locally and only to elite fans: Barack and the Obamania. Yeah, not likely.

Not to say the enthusiasm wasn’t refreshing or all-consuming; in fact, it was exciting just to watch a supposedly apathetic and disaffected electorate become caught up in the rising tide of enthusiasm and cheerleading that eventually swept Obama into the White House, though, again, if you were part of that 52.9% that voted for the man, then that wouldn’t exactly set you apart, not even if you WERE the biggest supporter ever. At the end of the day, assuming this is the democracy I want to think it is, you still just had one vote. Like everyone else.

But ok, you voted, you got your friends to vote, you spread the word, you bumper-stickered your car, your parents’ car, put up the poster in your window, hoped, prayed, and then rejoiced when your prayers were answered…and now it’s a year later and you are, once again, frustrated and disaffected, jaded by the fact that your hero and messiah has failed to deliver where you thought he, of all people, would be different. And the Nobel Peace Prize, far from soothing your impatience, only served to underscore your worries that nothing was happening, because even Obama couldn’t seem to figure out what he’d been awarded it for. Nor is this disgruntlement a strictly American phenomenon – others around the world are noticing it as well, even those who are on balance big supporters of his.

Never mind that the closest analogy here is to the fickleness and delusions of teenage love, or that Obama’s campaign drew comparisons even from diehard Democrat supporters to Napoleon Dynamite’s ‘Vote for Pedro and your wildest dreams will come true’ message; both of those things are true, but that disaffection and exasperation you’re now feeling? Welcome to politics. As much as people may moan about it, resistance to change is built into the system, from the three-branch setup all the way down to the electoral college; checks and balances exist to check undue or excessive change and keep the ship (or whatever metaphor you want to use) balanced. So even apart from the sky-high hopes with which Obama was ushered into power, even without Republicans digging in their heels to oppose every move he makes, even without the impatience of the media in portraying this lack of change, the truth is: the system by design and definition opposes rapid change. As much as you may have been swept away in believing that Obama was somehow different than every other Presidential candidate before him with the possible exception of Kennedy (who also didn’t achieve all that much while in office other than entering Vietnam), the system into which he was placed is not, and expecting him to use his buoyant hopefulness and charm to sweep away the old hands elected specifically to oppose him borders on insanity. Moreover, it’s hard to envision a world in which a Democrat coming out of the Chicago political machine would be anything but just another politician, particularly with a DNCC diehard like Rahm Emanuel at his helm, so even the idea that Obama would be different in the first place appears more than a little naive in hindsight. And few things, after all, are less unique than impatience, delusion, and naivete.