Strong Speech, But Cynisim Prevails

September 13, 2011

I don't like to admit I've lost faith, but...

Last Thursday President Obama delivered quite a stirring address to Congress, ending, happily, before the start of the football season opener. It was rousing, it was full of spirited flourishes, and it was an appeal to both his fellow Democrats, who gave him probably not less than twenty standing ovations, and to the Republicans across the aisle, who actually laughed in his face when he said the raising of taxes for the wealthy is not about class warfare. He is the centrist president, the lawyer in chief, so he tried to join hands and sing while John Boehner looked like he was sucking on a lemon for most of the thirty-plus minutes it was going on. I really want to like Obama, and I really want to believe in him. I also don’t want to agree with pundits from Fox News, who no sooner than the president was done speaking began to decry him for spouting the same rhetoric that he has been for the past nearly three years that he’s been in office. The pundits said that this speech is more of the same that we’ve been hearing, that the newest “American Jobs Bill” is just the recycling of old ideas that failed with the stimulus bill previously and has left the nation hovering stubbornly around 9.1% unemployment. I’d like to disagree, but I really can’t, because for the most part, the Republicans seem to be right. It’s all very well to talk about the hiring of teachers, the strengthening of bridges and the rebuilding of highways. But I don’t know how much faith I have at this point, because I heard pretty similar claims in the past about what the stimulus money was going for, and it was ineffective.

Now, I’m not an economist, and all I have to go on, in terms of whether I support this president and the passing of this jobs bill, is what I see from my limited scope of experience. I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this, which almost makes it more frustrating to me, since I feel like I don’t have all the information to go on, nor do I feel that I have the time and inclination to do further research into all of it, meaning that a knee jerk reaction based on what I think is right is probably going to be my standpoint. That, I believe, puts me in the same boat as a lot of other Americans. We make decisions and form viewpoints based on assumptions that probably aren’t ever entirely accurate, because we simply don’t have all the necessary information, and we probably don’t have the capacity to understand it all, for the most part. So we leave these matters, like the running of the country, to those who claim to have the answers, like Obama, or his opponents across the aisle, and we hope for the best…a strategy that hasn’t been working so well lately, judging from out economic woes and our slipping position on the world stage. I don’t like to speak ill of Obama, a guy I helped elect, but the results of his presidency haven’t been what I expected, and there’s no getting around that. As I said before here on the site, I’ll have a tough time voting for him again come next year, because I don’t really want him as president four more years. I see the country in considerably worse shape if that happens. But that being said, who’s a better candidate? Mitt Romney? Rick Perry? Fuck no. One thing that Obama said that I agree with and the Republicans don’t, it’s that taxes need to be raised on the wealthy. They can afford it, and the poor can’t. It’s that simple. A Republican president will never allow that to happen. And then there’s the typical Republican stance on gay marriage and homosexuality in general, stem cell research, abortion, and other hot button topics, none of which I can abide by. The Republicans are so dead set against so many of the values that I hold dear, yet the Democrats have such a shaky economic policy at this point, something of vital importance to America at what feels like a particularly fragile period in this nation’s history.

So it seems like I’ll conclude with the same thing I have in several of my latest political musings. I just don’t like any of the current options for American leadership. I want to trust Obama when he says he knows what’s best, but I don’t think that he does. And I can’t in good conscience vote for any Republican who steps up to take the nomination next year, so where does that leave me? Depressed, that’s where. It was very stirring to see the display of unity for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, living here in New York as I do. But to then go right back to the arguing and the political grandstanding really just washes out and nullifies any of the hope that the construction of the new World Trade Center provided. It’s hard when you’ve lost faith in your leadership. And try as I might, I can’t just ignore what I see around me. We all have to live in the world, and much as I’d like to, I can’t just bury my head in the sand.

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