It is never easy to admit you were wrong, but today I can draw the courage to type the words I have been thinking inside my liberally infused brain for a while; I was wrong about the Obama administration. The promise once felt no longer exists, for me the dream has reached its natural end, the morning light is beginning to seep through the closed curtains.
There was a time when I (like many others) put Barack Obama and his new administration in an impossible situation. In the midst of an all nighter during my second year at university, and even though I was clearly not American, the atmosphere was unexplainable. This was an event, one of them moon landing kind of moments. Even from the United Kingdom, we had placed a burden on Obama before he had even got the chance to act. Fix the economy, bring the troops back from war, put big business in its place, ensure scientific and Nasa funding and improve welfare and healthcare. I was relatively young, but I still think I understood that everything had changed after 9/11, and after George Bush, existed the assumption on my part that Barack Obama could bring the change and progressive politics dearly needed. What I didn't understand, was the depths that America could sink to, in order to claim its title - as Obama put it in his inaugural speech of 2009 - as "the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth".
These words are not written with the intention of being a point by point critique of the failures of the Obama administration, as even to do so would be missing the point. Carrying a tally chart of political triumphs and lows is not how any presidency should be judged, regardless of country or creed. In fact, show me a political tenure that hasn't had to deal with scandal or controversy. Be it Clinton's under the table antics, Bush's literacy troubles or Nixon's ability to effectively Nosferatu the hell of the state of future America. If you fancy some examples closer to (my) home, we have seen UK MP's inability to handle their pocket money, newspapers cosying up to the police, police cosying up to newspapers, and perhaps most terrifying of all, Gordon Brown's inability to smile like a real human man. Instead, I write to merely capture my personal disillusionment that has come with witnessing the deterioration of a campaign that at one time seemed like a bulletproof messianic gift. The decision that I suddenly wasn't on the Obama train anymore didn't come as a sudden realisation, it was more of a slow and considered affair.
While it is a relatively recent conclusion, it is based on events that have been transpiring for years and often in secret. I stress, Obama has made good decisions during his years in office, including his approach to boosting economy and jobs, the new legislation on climate change, the stance on carbon emissions and fossil fuels, motions for equality and the decisions that led to the bailout the US auto industry. These are major achievements for any president, and again, this is not a case of a tally chart of good vs bad decisions. I write because it is my perception of the administration that has been gradually in deterioration. Instead, it is Obama's inability to back up his impressive political rhetoric, the failure to implement key policy promises such as the closure of Guantanamo Bay or legislation on gun control, the hypocrisy of the approach to whistle-blowers, the policy on the use of drones, (sometimes shockingly referred to as 'crowd killing') the continued NSA spying programs of Boundless Informant and Prism and the appalling individual treatment of Bradley Manning - imprisoned for over two years now without charge and under conditions tantamount to torture.
The treatment of whistle-blowers was perhaps the final stone that shattered the glass, especially in the recent case of Edward Snowden. My liberal mindset cannot comprehend the hypocrisy of the administration hunting this man under the pretense of the Espionage Act while themselves engaging in unlimited mass spying on their own citizens. The reporting on this subject is vast, some claim Snowden to be a traitor, some a hero. The Guardian has stated that "although the United States remains a world leader in upholding the ideal of freedom of expression, the American attitude toward whistle-blowers sullies the first amendment of the US constitution". While Glen Greenwald, the journalist that broke the story has been quoted as saying that the Obama administration is engaged in an "unprecedented war on whistle-blowers". With a recent poll finding the approval rating of the presidency sitting around 45%, it seems some share my discontentment with the decisions being made.
In his speeches, Obama appeals to the liberal dream, but the actions of the administration do not back up the rhetoric, yet. Guantanamo remains open, gun legislation is still anarchic and the recent Snowden leaks show the extent of mass espionage on everyone - citizens both domestic and foreign. When Barack Obama recently visited Northern Ireland, his speech contained the quote "to those who choose the path of peace, I promise you the United States of America will support you every step of the way. We will always be a wind at your back". Personally, these words ring true, but I cannot yet put my full faith behind a US presidency that speaks of peace and transparency while drone strikes mount and who are currently attempting to prosecute those responsible for highlighting secretive mass spying on the public.
I am not American. I am not a Republican nor a Democrat in the US classification of such political preferences. From my computer in the other side of the world, I do not speak for a collective of people. I can only offer my opinion. My personal disappointment in a political administration that has routinely failed to live up to both the ideals it strives to promote and the policies it promised to introduce.
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