Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama Is Right, Americans Are Bitter

What is all the brouhaha about? Barack Obama actually points out that people in America feel powerless and disenfranchised and yes, “bitter” and he gets jumped. First he has the right-wing talk show hosts clamoring after him and then Hillary calls him “elitist”. This coming from rich media figures and a former First Lady/multimillionaire!

Well here is the truth. Americans do feel bitter. They feel like nobody listens to them they are cynical and in many cases rightfully so. Politics today is about big money and media. Most people do not have the time or inclination to actually listen to the candidates positions and compare them in a rational manner. They may be simply too busy trying to put food on their family’s table or they may feel like it doesn’t matter. More than once I have heard people say we have to “choose the lesser of the evils” with the candidates. Can there be a more cynical view of our political system?

According to some polls about 81% of Americans feel our country is headed in the wrong direction. They feel powerless. When our Vice President says he doesn’t care what people think, he confirms this. No wonder people are bitter.

Well, here is the deal. We can succumb to the cynicism and just ignore the political system. “Let McCain or Hillary or whoever get elected, it won’t make any difference.” And if we take that attitude, it really won’t make a difference. People without hope tend to let things stay the same. After all, “why bother”, they say, “it’s Washington politics as usual.”

That is the attitude that has kept the real elitists in Washington and has kept the status quo. That kind of hopelessness is what has kept Bush in office and prevented any attempt to call into question potentially illegal activities by this administration. “After all, he won’t be impeached, nothing will change.”

The secret is that as long as we believe things won’t change, they will not disappoint us. Washington will only move to change if we make our representatives change. That requires work and, more importantly, hope. That is why the people who are in power are trying to kill that hope with massive doses of cynicism.

Barack Obama speaks the truth and they call him “elitist”. Why? Because that word will play well with people who feel hopeless. After all “elitists’ are what people used to refer to as “high-hat”. That term was used to smear Franklin Roosevelt. He indeed did wear a high hat and smoked cigarettes with a gold cigarette holder. Yet Roosevelt challenged the cynics of the day with a populist agenda that helped end the Great Depression and assure the security of generations of retirees. Now that doesn’t sound like an elitist to me.

Obama, though well educated and prosperous worked as a civil rights lawyer and community organizer to actually make a change on the streets of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. Doesn’t sound so elitist now does he?

I suspect that if enough people can get beyond the semantic game that is being played out by the Clinton campaign, they will agree with Obama’s point of view. After all, people who feel they have no control try to gain at least some control over their lives. In some cases that is reflected in rigid defense of the right to bare arms or the seeking of solace in a religion that comforts them with clear and simple answers. They are not foolish or ignorant, they are merely tired of feeling like they have no voice.

Powerlessness is a bitter pill, and washed down with a healthy dose of cynicism it leads to numbness. If anything Obama was soft peddling the truth. The right-wing and the Clinton campaign know this and are exploiting it. If they succeed, the people whose senses are numbed by the clatter of the cynics cannot taste the sweet possibilities of hope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am bitter too!

If I hear HOPE one more time, I will be super bitter!

I don't want hope. I want HELP!