This is probably one of the harder posts that I would write on this blog, if you consider the contexts of the present time, and when Pres. Obama has come to the office in 2008.
To see him get elected was surreal. In so so so many ways. This was a point in history that I am, every day, glad I’ve witnessed.
What I’m not glad for was the almost immediate eruption of the racist backlash. Everything from burning in effigy to some truly sickening slurs hurled at his family.
But nonetheless… he had a scandal-free presidency. He and Michelle have a relationship that, honestly, should be every couple’s goal. And, though he spoke that she never asked for the office of First Lady, and it is true, I do think that Michelle knew what she was getting into when she had seen him embark on his journey as a politician.
He did recover the economy. Ignore the spin doctors on television and look at the constant, consistent job growth in his entire presidency. Look at the fact that 401Ks recovered to where they were pre-Bush recession. Look at portfolios growing. Look at Dow Jones growth the past eight years. The proof is there, it’s quantifiable.
But the people who are right now cheering the incoming administration and saying how they had to “put up” with Obama are demonstrating nothing else but the fact that they can’t tolerate that a black man has done a great job.
What’s happening right now is little more than a whitelash. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see the reactions throughout American history. After the abolition of slavery. After the Civil War. After the Reconstruction. After Civil Rights. After women’s rights. Each time there was any sort of human rights progress, history saw an immediate backlash. Jim Crow. Voter suppression. Segregation. So on and so forth. This right now… is more of the same.
Deny it all you want, but you can’t unring the bell of history, and once shit’s on the Internet, it. is. forever. So when you think no one will remember the posts you made calling the President NObama, or whatever else you called him? You’d be amazed how long a computer’s memory can be.
The past eight years were formative for me as a voter and as a member of the workforce. At the time that the Obama campaign for the White House began in 2007, I was a college graduate, inundated ten ways from Sunday with student loan debt, no prospects, no direction, and an administrative position in my first firm. And what I wanted, at a bare minimum, was a job that could afford to pay bills that aren’t just the student loan, to be able to afford my own place, to… live. Just live. I have graduated college thinking of the suicides of the LGBT students – one of which happened in my freshman year – and wanted more of them to stay alive; they were great kids with immeasurable talent, and hated by the people who were supposed to loved them; they all deserved a lot better. I am vehemently childfree, and the idea that I may have been forced into childbirth due to birth control failure and having no other options has been a consistent fear – one that I, ironically, resolved because Sarah Palin has been selected as McCain’s running-mate. I knew what I cared about – and from the beginning of Obama’s campaign, I looked at him, and I said, “He probably cares about the same things I do… and he’s going to win this thing.”
My predictions are not infallible. I thought Hillary was going to win this; I’m sure a lot of people did. But I also purposely skipped the debates to avoid Trump’s face and voice; I find both repugnant. Be my personal feelings what they may, I should’ve taken in mind that he’s a salesman first. Underestimating the sales pitch was a huge, crucial mistake in my assessment. He pitches a good game, he knows how to appeal to people, and – I’ve said this before – he has a quintessentially typical predator’s intelligence: he knows how to isolate their weaknesses and hone in on them instinctively. Never once did I think he was stupid. Woefully, dangerously ignorant and blithe about it, certainly. But stupid? No, no. And my underestimation of this was why I pegged this election result wrongly.
This only teaches me to account for all factors, not just the obvious ones, before I make a call.
But when I saw Obama against McCain in debates, I knew he had it. He spoke confidently, eloquently, with the conviction of someone who has been through the same hard times as the people asking the questions in the town-halls. He’s had to struggle in his life, and had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously. And he accomplished it, and it showed most that he never once forgot the journey he had taken to get there.
I was glad to see, over the past eight years, that he had proven my expectations right in a lot of ways. He had to toe a line that kept shifting every day, and balance a very delicate shifting load that is global relations in a changing and evolving world. We have all of us grown with him, and to have his term to conclusion feels, in a sense, like graduating college all over again.
Except, unlike when he had first come to the White House, I’m no longer at the threshold of the world with the possibilities ahead, however scant, and wanting prospects. I carved out an unlikely career path – hell, two, all considered – and I kept living by the simple mantra of do whatever makes your soul smile. I can’t say it’s all been roses – it hasn’t – but it taught me what I needed to know and taught me what was important. Obama’s presidency was an example that hard work and sharp brains count for a whole lot, and that yes, it is possible to do great things, even if the rest of the world sees you as “the other.”
Now that he’s on his way out the door, and tomorrow we begin four years that are, at the absolute kindest word I can use, unpredictable, I feel like I’m looking for direction again, in a sense. So much of what has happened under Pres. Obama is now in jeopardy. So it makes me wonder: what will happen next?
Despite the apprehension, anxiety, outright fear – which I rarely, if ever, feel – I look at President Obama’s accomplishments with pride. I look at the growth of Sasha and Malia while in the White House and I see two brilliant young women, with a brilliant future ahead of them. I see a family – and a President who was a husband and a dad before he was ever a politician, and I know that, no matter how disagreeable the people around him were, he still treated us as a family.
I am more than a little saddened at watching him leave the White House. But I also look forward to seeing Barack H. Obama, Esquire. Don’t forget: both he and Michelle are attorneys, educated as attorneys, and likely more than qualified to have their own practice, or to pursue a living in the field of law. Let’s not forget that President William H. Taft was a Supreme Court justice as well. And I don’t think that someone like Pres. Obama is content unless he’s in a position to help others.
While there are things to mourn, there may yet be things to celebrate.
Now… let’s see what we can do.