On July 4th, as we celebrated the birth of a nation—with Chinese fireworks and Mexican beer—did you take an opportunity to reflect on the freedoms our Founding Fathers bequeathed as inalienable birthrights? Notice anything missing, a decade deep into the Patriot Act era? Curious how we got here?
It’s hard to imagine American conservatives supporting a president who tripled our national debt, actively sold weapons to terrorists who targeted America, presided over the largest tax increase in American history, and cut and ran after 241 Marines were killed in a terrorist bombing… yet the vast majority of American conservatives revere Ronald W. Reagan.
It’s equally hard to imagine American liberals supporting a president who vastly increased the surveillance state, took credit for a health care reform bill which forces people to buy private health insurance from the very companies who were supposed to be reformed, tacked to the right of George W. Bush on government secrecy and the War on Cannabis, and gave himself full authority to murder American citizens with drones—completely devoid of judicial or congressional review… yet Barack H. Obama remains surrounded by more cheerleaders than Bush in college.
Yet, despite Obama’s monumental panoply of faults, there’s still an endless barrage of false accusations being hurled from the right. Bengazi, while a tragedy, wasn’t even close to the conspiracy-laden calamity FOX denizens claim. The IRS “scandal,” was completely manufactured, as not only were liberal groups also scrutinized, but Tea Party organizations who claimed to be singled out were applying for a tax free status—which mandates a lack of political activity—thus requiring the IRS to examine their political activities.
While regularly accused of doubling the deficit, Obama actually reduced our deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. He’s not “taking away” anyone’s guns, he couldn’t (wouldn’t?) even marshal support for an assault weapons ban Reagan once supported. “Obamaphones” are actually an extension of the “Lifeline” program started in 1984 under Reagan, expanded to include cellphones by Bush in 2005.
Conservative caricatures of Obama aside, the truth is quite insidious in its own right. The soaring rhetoric of the 2008 campaign, glistening with hope and promise, juxtaposes so harshly against the actual actions of his administration that the only conceivable way to continue supporting him requires leaden blinders.
Obama, you’ll recall, appeared in an almost magically meteoric rise from community organizer to freshman senator to president of the United States… and let’s not forget the people who owned the voting machines in 2004 still owned them in 2008 and 2012. So, populist accoutrements aside, it’s safe to say the “powers that be” presented us Obama on a silver platter, for which they were richly rewarded by a near total abandonment of his ostensible principles.
If he was here to sabotage liberalism, he sure hit all the marks: knocking Hillary out of contention; destroying true healthcare reform; putting the NDAA in place, in the waning hours 2011, while the country was simply apoplectic… because Cee Lo Green had altered the words of “Imagine.” That piece of legislation, barely mentioned by mainstream media, fundamentally changed the nature of our Republic. With a stroke of his pen, Obama rendered the Constitution of the United States quaint, its promise of due process destroyed.
Legendary peace activist Cindy Sheehan, in a phone interview with The Corvallis Advocate from her epic “Tour De Peace” bike ride across the nation, says she never supported Obama, due to his voting for war funding bills and the Wall Street bailout as a senator. She says “the whole adoration… of presidents, whether people adore George Bush or they adore—unconditionally adore—Obama is ridiculous… you save that kind of love for a child, or a parent, not a politician. We as a nation need to try to learn to rely more on ourselves, and our families and our communities, than whomever is in office in Washington, D.C.”
She says Obama’s most egregious violations are the expansion of the drone program, assassinating American citizens without due process, not closing Guantanamo, the persecution of Bradley Manning, pervasive data mining, and the abandonment of the environment. “He’s doing the exact same things Bush did… Obama is the best Republican president we’ve had since Clinton.”
Wishful projections aside, it’s hard to argue against her reasoning. Especially in light of what she’s witnessed venturing across the country. “While we’ve been biking, two bridges have collapsed—not on us, but around the country… and just seeing the decay of our communities and our infrastructure, and to know that there’s plenty of money and plenty of resources, if they would stop being devoted to the so-called War on Terror—the War OF Terror—the empire…” She still holds out hope, however, for the future. “People are turning towards each other, and reconnecting in community… Washington D.C. is irrelevant… People are saying, ‘If they’re going to protect Monsanto, we’re going to grow our own food. If they’re going to get in these insane wars, then we’re going to teach peace in our families and our communities.'”
Despite Obama’s monumental failures, we can still believe in the idea of the United States of America. Somehow, the idea can survive the lies, hatred, and greed of men. The idea of freedom, of free people living in a free land, can still perhaps someday ring true…
By Seth Aronson