Less than Super, Man.

8 12 2010

Who knew that Tea would be my kryptonite!

Harold Wilson, two-time British PM, once remarked that a week was a long time in politics. If that is the case then two years must seem longer than having to watch the entire series of Jersey Shore.

Just over two years ago, Barrack Obama (and the Democratic Party) swept to victory on a mandate of change. Using the slogan “Yes We Can”, he tapped into the frustrations of ordinary Americans who had become disillusioned with the direction that the country was heading under a Republican Party that seemed more concerned with frittering money away on foreign disputes and ensuring that the status quo was maintained. A party that had seen the bubble burst on a housing market whose foundations were found to be less than concrete.

The GOP had lost their way and America decided that Obama was the man to lead the country out of the nightmare and back into the dream.

In Obama’s Brave New World, there would be affordable healthcare for all, climate change would be considered a serious scientific issue, the fat-cats of Wall Street would be brought to task for their profligate risk taking and the unlawful detention of innocents from foreign conflict would be given the chance to rebuild their lives.

America would no longer be a country to be feared and loathed; the Land of the Free was going to start setting the standards again.

When Obama was elected,  I wanted this political newbie to succeed. I needed him to take control back from politicians and corporations who had profited from war and I believed that the US electorate had chosen a leader that would provide the impetus required to move the country out of the doldrums of recession – whilst at the same time allowing this immigrant to get the job I wanted.

Fast Forward to December 2010. In November The Democrats received what can only be described as a hiding in the Mid-Term elections – BO described it as a “shellacking”  -, the phrase “time for tea” no longer refers to a pleasant afternoon with cucumber sandwiches but a grassroots organization (founded in 2008, after Obama took office) and the Republicans have managed to take back control of the House of Representatives.

On the plus side, Sarah Palin has become a national cheerleader for Fox News – and a possible candidate for the Presidency in 2012 –  and Obama has a noticeable sheen of distinguished grey in his hair. Two years of fighting a losing battle will do that to a man.

Must Try Harder

And the good news continues.

Unemployment is at just under 10%, a Climate Change Bill has been dead in the waters of the Senate for some time, healthcare reform was signed into law in March 2010 but has been decried by many Americans as a failed liberal experiment – despite the fact that the majority of the bill won’t come into action until 2014 – and the massive debt that the USA has saddled itself with doesn’t seem to be shrinking. With the spectre of repossession hanging over some people’s heads, Obama has agreed to extend the tax-cuts extended to those earning over $250,000 per annum for another 2 years.

Which is nice. It panders to the people who put the country into recession, but at least those who still have a home can benefit just in time for the holiday season – can’t mention the C word, we have to make sure that all religions are included in the seasonal festivities.

The war with the Taliban in Afghanistan continues to drain resources and whilst combat operations in Iraq have ceased, there is still a significant US presence in a country that still hasn’t elected a government. Just for good measure, that small detention centre in Cuba is still open…which Obama promised would be shut within a year of him taking office.

Two years after the champagne corks popped in Chicago, President Obama may only have another twenty-four months of living in the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

When we decided to move to the USA, we settled on Boston. This historic New England town is where it all started, where independence was born and where America learned to stand on it’s own two feet, shouting to make it’s voice heard over the clamor of other voices. And America was great at shouting.

The American Dream was what everyone wanted, became a call to arms for people seeking freedom from persecution and who wanted to make a better life for themselves. Millions came here, built the country into a superpower and watched as alternative ideologies faltered in the face of overwhelming odds. The nation prospered, became an influence in how the world was run and exported values that are still adhered to in certain parts of the globe.

But somewhere along the line, America began to focus too much on spreading the word of free market capitalism and democratic process to notice what was happening at home. International pressures outweighed domestic requirements and it is only when you travel across the nation that you see how a country that prides itself on an absence of a class system has actually managed to create one through the very values that made it a world leader.

America is so large that the easiest way to travel across it is by using the Interstate, a vast collection of interconnected highways that get you from A to B and then on to D, whilst ensuring that you don’t have to go through C.

That’s the problem. C is where the majority of Americans actually live.

I have driven through small-town America and seen the boarded up businesses and homes, cruised through neighborhoods’ that rely on Wal-Mart for their weekly shop, marveled at gardens filled with rusting vehicles and filled my car with petrol in towns where an English accent is considered exotic.

I have drunk Dunkin Donuts coffee, which proudly proclaims that America runs on the stuff and thought to myself that if that is the case then the country is in more trouble than it thinks. I have seen signs offering flu shots for $30, watched as elderly gamblers steer their motorized Medicare-scooters through the slot machines in Las Vegas and stumbled across a Routemaster Bus in Alabama that the owner had purchased on E-Bay.

Two Years Later, Reality Bites

Two years after the euphoria, the reality is harder to take. The Americans that voted for change were expecting the country to become theirs again, to ensure that the American Dream was no longer the nightmare it had become for many who had lost their jobs, their houses and their direction. This has not happened and they need a scapegoat. Obama made some big promises two years ago, most of which he has been unable to keep because those in opposition have ensured that their agenda is more important.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it is only two years since Yes We Can became Actually, No We Can’t Because They Won’t Let Us.

Don’t worry Obama; at least you had a job in the last two years – and you do have the benefit of a Law Degree to fall back on if the country makes you homeless in 2012.




2 responses

10 12 2010

It’s sad, but thats exactly it. The voice of a handful of people is being heard and making choices for the masses. More people are willing to vote for the Next Top Singer Dancing whatever then the person who RUNS the country. I like Obama a lot, and if he could just figure out how to make everyone play nice, the people of this country could could start sleeping easier. I’ll say it now: Four More Years!!

10 12 2010

Thanks for the feedback, I do want Obama to succeed but I just worry about whether he is the right man for the job.

The next two years will be fascinating as the GOP decides which route they want to take: bat-shit crazy tea-partiers or electable conservatives. They may find it hard to ignore the populist calls of the Mama Grizzly but relying on grass-roots voting is fraught with danger – not least if the general public actually wake up to what Fox News’s real agenda is.

Put it this way, Obama vs Palin would be no contest but there are some wily old foxes in the GOP who could give him some problems.

Time will tell, but I think I need to write a piece about non-entity celebrity culture next!

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