For eight years, since Barack Obama took the oath of office on a frigid January day in 2009, I have felt relatively safe for the first time in my life, knowing that the country was at last in the hands of an honorable man who would move mountains to protect our democracy; a man who had the mental capacity to understand the complexities of our government. No, I did not agree with every decision President Obama made; yes, I thought he should have roared louder when opponents disgracefully blocked confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nomination.
With Obama, regardless of the individual decisions made, I always knew that the man making those decisions would do his best for the nation as a whole, moving us ever forward toward that egalitarian society promised in the Declaration of Independence, protecting rights already granted and granting rights to those previously left behind. I also trusted him not to let self-interests taint his presidency with shame and scandal and in that, he never once disappointed me.
“I worry about inequality.” Obama said when asked what he worries about during his final press conference as POTUS. He cited voting rights violations, gerrymandering and “the endless money that goes into our politics” as obstacles to equality’s progress.
I worry about those things too, but more than that, more than anything else, I worry about the blind, mindless, party-first politics that threaten to devour our democracy; the win-at-any-cost campaign tactics, the evil of so many lies spilling from the months of candidates and their spokespersons.
I worry about the zombie-like repetition of favorite mantras like “Repeal Obamacare” with no thought about how these words, when turned to action, will impact people, institutions and the economy.
I worry about a clash of egos among our world leaders, the posturing, the tough-talk, the paranoia and self-righteousness expressed by so many current heads-of-state that mediation has become impossible.
I worry that pig-headed allegiances to antiquated ideas have made us all stupid and easy prey for those foreign and domestic who would love to see democracy fail.
Obama expressed his continued hope for the success and continuation our democracy, but I am not so optimistic. Our democracy, a representative republic, is being assailed from within and from without. If we continue to take it for granted, to stay home on Election Day, to allow media, corporations and clergy to tell us how to vote, how to think, we will lose our democracy and have no one to blame but ourselves.
Thank you, President Obama, for your stewardship. To borrow from Shakespeare again:
“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I will say good night till it be morrow.”