Hope and Change

Barack Obama’s 2008 rallying call was “hope and change”.  There was plenty of reasons for Americans to identify with this slogan.  Today some GOP supporters ask where did all that “hope and change” go?  What has President Obama done in 4 years?

To begin with the obvious, all political candidates promise far more than they deliver.  That’s sort of the name of the game.  But with “hope and change” there is much more to the story.

In 2008, Americans were disgusted with the Bush Administration and George W Bush in particular.  The national debt had doubled in 4 years while the deficit had gone from a surplus to a substantial negative.  American had waged two unfunded wars, one of very questionable legality.  Worse, the introduction of “enhanced interrogation” with its headliner, water boarding, made most Americans ashamed and disgusted.  America’s reputation around the world had plummeted, and domestic policy was lacking as evidenced by the Hurricane Katrina response and the bizarre Terry Schiavo case.  There was so much to fuel “hope and change” that the slogan just made sense.

“Hope and change” also meant other things.  Gays were sure better times were ahead for them, while immigrants thought the same.  Women felt super energized and the rest of the middle class felt good things were just around the corner.  What actually lay around the corner was not their hopes but it sure represented change.

Conservatives woke up the day after the election and realized their brand was in trouble.  President Bush had driven the GOP ship of State so far up on the rocks that it might be decades before Republicans could expect to regain the White House.  This predicament called for bold action.  And bold action they got.  Just say no!

Republican leadership has consistently said their main goal was to make President Obama a one term President.  This meant “no”, that’s right, “no” cooperation on any legislative front.  In the first two years, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.  The Affordable Care Act resulted.  In 2010, Republicans gained control of the House and any chance for bipartisan compromise went out the window.

In these last two years amazing events have taken place.  The “Tea Party” wing decided to shut government down by not voting to increase the national debt.  Forget that the debt is about money already spent, these poor excuses for Congress Members, said no increase period.  There were many other ways to express their feelings about the size of government or the size of the deficit.  For the Tea Party, however, the debt was where to fight.

During President Obama’s term, the national debt has risen about $5 trillion.  Republicans say this alone is reason for change.  The GOP blames President Obama for this growth.  But do the facts bare this out?

The answer is no.

President Bush left President Obama with a $1 trillion projected deficit when he left office. His deficit was driven by projected rise in Medicare costs along with his tax cuts, Medicare Part D, and the weak economy.     The housing bubble collapse and the near melt down of the global financial system heaped more costs onto the economy of last resort.  But in these dark days, was there a spirit of cooperation?

Not that I could see.

In soccer, the GOP’s antics would have drawn at least a yellow card.  This may soon come into play.  Americans are said to be divided and the 2012 election will be extremely close.  I am inclined to agree.  But I am also inclined to think there is still reason for hope and change.

What do American think will happen if the keys to the White House are handed over to a party that alleges President Obama was not born in America?  Or to the party that thinks  photo IDs are needed to enter polling places in order to eliminate voter fraud for which there are no cases?  Or for the party that wants to privatize Medicare and Social Security when most private accounts have appreciated no higher than they were in 2007, and health insurance costs has risen annually at two times the rate of inflation for even a longer period.

Most Americans may be split between the reds and blues because they always were.  Americans also have a sense of “fair play”.  My guess is that when that middle undecided group enter the voting booth, they will vote for fairness.  My guess also is that if someone has always voted republican and can’t bring themselves to change, they simply will sit this one out.

The message: unless you can offer me “hope and change”, I cannot in good conscience vote for you.

 

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