Did you vote for Barack Obama in 2008? A lot of people did – obviously.
What a time. There’s still room for improvement, but what a testimony to just how far we as a nation have come in terms of racial harmony, tolerance and diversity.
Only decades earlier a man like Barack Obama – a black man – couldn’t even drink from the same water fountain as a white man, let alone become president of the United States. A hundred years prior to that, and he may well have been counted another man’s property.
On Nov. 4, 2008, millions gathered at the ballot box to prove, once and for all, that, in large measure, we as a nation have healed from our disgraceful, self-inflicted wounds of racial abuse, bias and division.
That we could elect an African-American to lead the free world is indeed a very good thing.
We just happened to elect the wrong African-American.
In life, we sometimes find that the idea of a thing is far better than the thing itself. As a boy, I once ordered, from a comic book, a pair of X-ray glasses that promised to allow me to see the bones beneath my hand (my motives were a bit more ignoble). The two weeks it took for the glasses to arrive seemed like an eternity.
Once they did arrive, I ripped into the package and put them on, darting my head to-and-fro. It’s difficult to express my level of disappointment. As I quickly discovered, the glasses merely formed a halo effect around objects, creating the illusion of transparency. I felt embarrassed. I got took.
Barack Obama’s presidency has been a halo effect. Like I did so many years ago, in 2008 America fell victim to false advertising. As the past four years have demonstrated beyond any serious debate, the idea of President Obama was far better than the reality of President Obama. We were promised the world. We were promised transparency; but we were sold an illusion. We got took.
Indeed, during the 2008 campaign, a then-Sen. Barack Obama promised us that, if elected, we would look back upon the moment he took office and “tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”
That was the idea of President Obama. That was what many good, well-meaning people voted for. That was the hope offered and the change promised.
That was not what we got.