When Obama promised "hope and change" as a candidate, I think he had in mind a new paradigm, one of restructuring America's economic system in his image rather than triggering economic growth, though he wanted the electorate to believe that growth was his focus.
The economy had turned south by the time Obama was trumpeting that platitude, but that was largely caused by liberal affordable housing policies -- the very type of program Obama would promote in office.
The dismal state of the economy played into Obama's hands, but I dare say he would have pushed for hope and change regardless of economic conditions, because he was offering more than economic solutions. He presented himself as the whole package -- a quasi-deity who would transform the entire country, slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.
With a backdrop of spiritually bankrupt people who were ripe for the lie that government could fill that god-shaped void in their beings, Obama strategically milked his messianic mirage. He constructed Greek columns, produced ethereal voice echo effects and adopted a conspicuous head-lift affectation to build a cultlike following that even ensnared a number of frighteningly credulous self-styled conservatives, such as New York Times columnist David Brooks.
How has Obama done if we measure his promise of hope and change in purely economic terms? Well, despite his tired efforts to scapegoat former President George W. Bush and the global markets, this is his economy, and it is demonstrably worse in every imaginable category. He has given us change, but it is destructive change. He has given us hope, but it is hope that the nightmare he has engineered will soon be over.
But what if, instead, we gauge Obama's promise in broader terms? It's more apparent every day that he was not talking about improving the economic misery index when he promised hope and change -- though he certainly exploited the recession that serendipitously coincided with his campaign to imply that he was.
To be properly interpreted, the phrase has to be considered along with his pledge to fundamentally change America and his frequent allusions to "spreading the wealth around." He had in mind changing the "social contract" between America and its people.