“The Evaporation of Hope!”

Just two short years ago we were promised hope and change!

After 8 years of a disastrous administration we, Independents like myself, Democrats, and some disgruntled Republicans voted Barack Obama into the office of President over the tired, old, destructive platform of John McCain.

The need for change was obvious and the promise of hope exhilarating. We had a dynamic, charismatic candidate that offered promise for the future; an opportunity to right the wrongs of the previous administration and 12 years of a destructive Congress.

It was clear that Obama understood the needs of the people and would work hard to restore the balances that make this country great! There had been a long, slow, painful 30 year erosion of that balance and America was in an agonizing death spiral. Obama promised to reverse that!

But, as an Independent, a year-and-a-half into his Presidency, I’m wondering…

Where is the change that millions of Americans were hoping for?

It appears that President Obama’s hope became overwhelmed by ‘reality.’

But my disappointment comes from the stark realization that Obama was not as prepared to fight the battles ‘for the people’ that he’d promised. Despite his good intentions, he is not the man he professed to be.

Though disillusioned with Obama’s performance and failures, not all the blame can be attributed to him. He inherited a multitude of problems left behind by possibly the worst administration in history. But it’s disturbing that as close as he was to the problems, as a Senator and candidate, he underestimated how severe they were.

Blame for the state of the country can be placed on many things and numerous shoulders. But the President doesn’t appear to posses the strength needed to overcome the opposition to the changes he proposes, even though change is absolutely necessary for our survival.

As a result, the changes he and the Democratic Congress have been able to enact have been mostly weakened and somewhat ineffective. They’ve also failed to strike at the heart of the issues, able to legislate only at the edges. This is primarily because too many obstacles have been placed in their way by a partisan and divisive opposition party.

And the Democrats have been too soft to force strong legislation. They have continued to give in to the weakening compromises of the Republicans.

What will it take to overcome the obstacles that face this failing nation if the President-for-Change and a favorable legislative body are unable to make it happen?

First, and foremost, we need an informed, smarter electorate.

In today’s political world of sound bites and snippets we have an electorate that is possibly less informed than at any time in our history. The problem? So many think they are well informed but actually know less about more issues than ever before. An extreme lack of knowledge is tearing this country apart; ripping at the fabric of democracy.

These words from an Alan Parsons song, Children of the Moon, depict my feelings of the leadership of George W. Bush and his administration. “We let the blind man lead the way too long,”  explains why we have such enormous problems to overcome. It is an analogy to the myopia of Bush and the ineptness rampant throughout his administration. Those words can also be applied to our Congress, and many Congresses before them.

In spite of the seeming complexity of numerous issues we face, the overall solutions can be simple but most are impossible to reduce to mere sound bites.

Fortunately, the electorate was smart enough to elect Barack Obama over John McCain. They understood the need for change. Their expectations were high. And many voters realized we couldn’t survive four more years of failed policies.

But change has been slow in coming; an arduous, excruciatingly painful transition from the incompetence of the past to the hope of the future.

Despite having a majority Congress, the necessary changes have been difficult to attain. That is in part due to the destructiveness of the minority party and weakness of the majority.

With so many things this country needs it is hard to know where to start. No matter where we begin it is important that we identify the problems, prioritize them, and move swiftly to correct them. The operative word is to identify the problems, honestly, so that we can work toward the solutions.

It’s imperative that we address the most debilitating issue of the problem in politics first. Campaign financing.

Campaign financing is strangling this country. Corporations lead many of our Senators and Representatives around by the noses. Our elected officials no longer work ‘for the people.’ This is true of both parties.

For many years the Republicans were the darlings of the corporations. That is, until they screwed everything up and ‘the people’ had had enough. Desiring change they elected Democrats. Those now out of favor became angry and revengeful.

Therein lies the first problem. Maybe the biggest problem of current politics. The place from which sound bites are generated.

The lies. The obstruction. The divisiveness. The vitriol. The Right!

The game of politics may not have changed in a hundred years, but 24 hour media has exposed the ugliness of the game. The Right is better at playing the game than the Left—no matter how ugly they have to get. And it has gotten ugly.

The Dems are no angels, but the most contemptible thing about right wing pols is their absence of conscience. They show no shame about lying. Their continual lies are destroying this country. It’s obvious that they would rather lie to win back power than help ‘the people’—or help the country.

Balance and renewed prosperity can never be achieved as long as one side promotes their own self interest at the expense of the nation. The poison the Republicans are spewing is aimed at destroying the other party. There seems to be no concern on their part for the fragility of this nation—of the need to restore a healthy way of life. They ignore the undeniable need to rebuild the middle-class.

This machine will be difficult to overcome, but if we are to survive we need to correct the imbalances we’re currently facing. Everyone must rage against the machine!

Which brings me back to my concerns about the electorate.

It is difficult to convince people on the right that they’re wrong. The machine has mastered the art of vitriol and reduced it to fictitious sound bites, most promoting hatred and blame—diverting attention from their own failures. And there are many. But they’ve convinced their followers that everything outside of their selfish, myopic agenda is bad—bad for them and, therefore, bad for the country.

That agenda has screwed up so many things over the last 30 years that it may take my children and my children’s children 40 years to rebalance the country. Rebalancing is imperative if we want continue to be a country others aspire to emulate. This democracy has lost its way, and with it we’re losing our place in the world.

It’s not just the actions of the right that have caused our hope to fade though.

Unfulfilled promises and weak legislative conclusions with a majority in Congress have become cause for disappointment and reason for concern.

Candidate Obama promised to get us out of Iraq, to close Guantanamo, bring about a comprehensive healthcare bill, begin the weaning process from Big Oil, and tackle global warming—now referred to as climate change.

Work has begun on some of his promises. But change has been slow, obstructed, compromised, or forgotten all together.

Progressives are disappointed, Independents are disillusioned, and conservative Republicans who voted for Obama are distraught by his failures or compromises.

We’ve lost the battle on comprehensive healthcare reform, the financial regulation bill is being watered down to where it will be of little help to the people, the Supreme Court destroyed any significant hope of campaign finance reform, unemployment will remain high because the Bush administration and a Republican Congress screwed up the economy so bad that there’s little chance of businesses recovering in the near future without help from the government, Guantanamo is still in operation, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars rage on at an incredible cost in dollars and lives.

So with all these issues we’ve addressed and their ineffective outcomes, and the ones we haven’t yet tackled that hang like a gray cloud over our heads is there any chance of change. Can our elected officials put aside corporatacracy long enough to do something positive for their constituents?

Can hope be recaptured—revitalized?

Yes it can, but this country is going to have to work hard at the changes necessary to point this baby in the right direction. It’s going to require unselfish cooperation. The need to cooperate has never been greater and the issues need to be addressed aggressively and with vision. We need to achieve a healthy, sustainable balance and we can never do that with an obstructive weaker party.

And, this President must change his game plan, and could benefit from a change of personnel. Neither are working. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear he’s going to change his team so that leaves his game plan that needs to become stronger and uncompromising.

Hope is still burning in some, but we need a little help from the side that hasn’t cared about ‘the people.’

More of the problems are discussed in the upcoming article, “Recapturing Hope to Save a Dying Nation!” The possible solutions will be addressed in the following series, “Rebalancing America!”

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