As with most Americans in the final weeks of this heated election season, I am absolutely experiencing campaign fatigue. The anger, the negativity and the constant bickering from both sides is exhausting. I could say I’ve never seen America more divided, but I think it was just as bad during the 2010 midterm elections as well, around the time I participated in the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity in D.C. Tensions were at a fever pitch then too, at the height of the Tea Party movement. What I can say without a doubt is that not in my living history have I ever seen the country so polarized as it has been in the last 4 years. And what I’ll never understand is the disparity in perception from two core groups of people over one man, President Barack Obama.
I want it to be over, and yet I can’t escape it. From social media to television to talks with friends, it always seems to turn to politics. While this is usually a subject I love to talk about, I have been actively trying to NOT engage lately because I just don’t have the energy for it. I post or comment on about 1/10th of the things I am seeing or thinking, which is a definite cutback from my usual enthusiasm, because a simple comment can literally spawn a thread or discussion that can suck hours away from my time. And what for? Even with the most solid argument, actual facts and genuine passion, I know enough to know I will not change people’s minds. Not at this point. Not in this state. I am done with playing Sisyphus.
What is hardest for me to grasp is how, or more to the point why, people view Obama the way that they do. No other president has had to endure the barrage of insults, blatant racism, disrespect and dishonesty than he has. The claims that he is anything other than a natural-born, Christian, educated biracial man who worked his way up from poverty to the White house are what is particularly vile in my opinion. Just yesterday, Donald Trump is now demanding he releases his college transcripts. Why? WHY? So Obama can prove he has more education, class and integrity in his thumb than Trump could muster in a lifetime? Unbelievable. I hope Obama ignores this sad little man definitively.
Why the hate?
For whatever reasons, many people who don’t like Obama don’t simply dislike him, or his policies, or his agenda. They hate the man on a deeper level that belies some very disturbing truths about their own prejudices, in my opinion. As long as this exists, there can be no real balance to any argument. My husband and I have supported Obama since his first term and have defended him on countless occasions. What I find time and time again is that simple truths and facts are pointless in most of these arguments. When people have predetermined notions about a man they believe is evil and intent on destroying America, despite all evidence to the contrary, all logic goes out of the window.
I am not saying Obama is perfect. There has been much done but so much left to do. But all of you who know me and or read this blog know I support him. Living in a red state where more than 90% of my friends and family are on opposite sides of the political fence can make one weary. I’ve been told time and time again that I have “forgotten my roots,” live in an echo chamber (quite impossible in LA), have too much racial sympathy, am educated but lack common sense, haven’t seen enough of the world (from people who haven’t left their home towns), will grow out of my liberalism or simply support him out of “spite.” Wow. Once and for all I would like to set the record straight on all of these accusations.
Why I support Barack Obama, the man, the President
I support Obama for many, many reasons. I am not a sheep…I read and attempt to educate myself on a wide range of issues, and I try my best to understand the history of America as well as our current challenges. But my support is personal. I have a real fondness in my heart for this man, who has time and time again shown what a qualified, highly intelligent, capable, classy, compassionate and tolerant leader he is. How can one not look at the two candidates, their records and their personal histories and understand that Obama is the only candidate that has ever walked in your shoes, knows your plight and will actively work to better our country as a whole? And his record proves it. Republicans don’t want to hear about how this man was handed a broken country but that is the simple FACT. And yet, he has taken us from the brink of economic collapse, jobs have grown, troops are coming home and most importantly to me, our standing in the eyes of the world has greatly improved. He is not an embarrasment…a costumed cowboy making gaffes and making a fool of us everywhere he goes. He is firm yet respectful and I think it goes a long way towards why we have experienced relative peace during his term. And the idea that he is soft on terror is laughable.
He inspires me, he makes me proud…in short I trust this man with my country, I trust him with our future.
While I’ve come to expect Republicans lodging constant criticism at what he has and hasn’t done, even more maddening are liberals who think he hasn’t done enough for them. Again I say, it will take more than one term, it will take more than two terms to fix all the ills of this country. It has been said it will actually be more like a 40 year process.
So to expect a 180 degree reversal in a term in which one man is trying to work against a force (The GOP) that wants to see his failure more than they want to see the success of the country, it is amazing he’s managed to get ANYTHING done. I suspect his second term will take a more aggressive rhythm. If, God willing, he is granted it.
On a final note, I’m often asked why I am personally so partisan. Many people believe that in itself is the problem with them country. I won’t wholly disagree. As long as we hunker down so strongly within our camps, it is hard to see how we will ever be able to work together on common ground. And yet again….the clear evolution of the two parties into very, very different ideals that it feels as though you simply must pick a side because the paths and outcomes are so vastly different. I simply cannot abide by what Republicans believe and have in store. I came across a post recently that succinctly described my own personal reasons for choosing to be a liberal, a Democrat. This is what I believe in….this is how I perceive my party versus the alternative. Every now and then someone else can find the words couldn’t. From Ron Tschudy:
“In my canvassing I often hear “I don’t pay much attention to party affiliation. I just vote for the individual.” That may have been OK fifty years ago, but times have changed: now there are stark differences between the parties.
One Party wants to dismantle Social Security and send part of our paychecks first to Wall Street for them to take a cut. The other knows Social Security can easily be strengthened, should not be privatized.
One wants to give back total control of non-Medicare and Medicaid health care to profit-driven insurance companies. The other knows ObamaCare is not perfect but is a good start towards breaking the insurance companies’ chokehold and improving and making more affordable our admittedly flawed “system” of health care.
One refuses to recognize the reality of climate change and stubbornly advocates for dirty energy.
The other knows we have to begin changing directions on our sources of energy, and works toward that goal.
One enthusiastically endorses the flow of unlimited corporate and anonymous money and the corruption this inevitably produces in our political parties’ ideology and election campaigns.
The other wants a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court decision which has spawned this corruption. The other has also tried (and been blocked by a filibuster) to bring disclosure to this flood of money.
One believes –against all evidence– that continuing the decades- long process of concentrating wealth at the top rungs of our society will drive the economy.
The other believes our nation’s economic well-being centers in a strong working middle class, itself strengthened by real equal opportunity.
Finally, all Americans should be outraged by Republican attempts to intimidate voters and suppress the vote of groups of voters — minorities, students, seniors, etc. Voting is the main pillar of our democracy, our most basic right, and we are ALL threatened when anyone’s right to vote is threatened. It this tactic works and delivers the presidency to the GOP, it will be another national disgrace.” -Ron Tschudy, ArtistsNorth
To be clear, I have many Republican friends and family. I respect them and would never cut these people out of my life for their beliefs, even though I remain privately incredulous to many of them. I just wish many of them could show the same respect. I am so ready to move forward. Now, go vote.