Less than three years ago hope spread around the world like wildfire. Barack Hussein Obama’s inspired oratory gave us a glimpse of a better way. Even here in New Zealand we had a double dose of optimism: new Prime Minister and all-round nice guy John Key promised change for the better, albeit without the soaring rhetoric.
For me—and for many who’ve heard it all before—the hope was tempered by doubt and cynicism. Nevertheless, the possibility of a sea-change was real and exciting.
Maybe this time…
The hope proved fleeting
There was a sea-change alright, yet another tsunami of missed opportunities to douse the flames of hope. In the USA, “Yes, we can” morphed into “maybe”, promises became aspirations. We’re almost back to business-as-usual. The dreams are on hold, the disappointment is acute.
What next? Sarah Palin?
Party-based democracy doesn’t work anymore. We need a system which punishes politicians who blatantly disregard their election manifestos. We need less adversarial politics-as-usual and more lets-all-pull-together consensus. We need less Old Testament Hell and Damnation and more New Testament Golden Rule.
To put one more nail in the coffin of hope we had the sad reality of President Obama using his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize to extol the virtues of a just war. I’m an ex-serviceman, and I’m not a pacifist. Nevertheless, I don’t accept the “just war” justification in the case of Afghanistan. There were many ways to fan the flames of freedom in that region without sending in fighting forces.
A year or so ago the New York Times website ran a “Word Train” asking readers to describe their feelings about President Obama in just one word. The results were depressing but sadly predictable. I chose ‘disappointment’ and that proved to be one of the big four, along with ‘hopeful’ and ‘proud’ for the optimists and ‘disgusted’ for the realists and the “We told you so” brigade. Nowhere could I find ‘pleased’, ‘delighted’, or even a mild ‘satisfied’.
My disappointment was less acute for being not unexpected. I knew all along that there was a strong probability that Mr Obama would be subsumed by the pressures and realities of the beltway, so now that it’s happened I just feel sad.
- I don’t believe that his dreams were impossible to realize. If President Obama had chosen to fight the Washington system he could have prevailed. He would have had two years of struggle against the House and the Senate, but he could have kept the people on his side and transformed Congress in the mid-term elections – just as FDR did when he went directly to the voters to expose the people who stood in the way of true reform.
- I don’t believe that peace in the Middle East is not achievable. It’s just not achievable while continuing to provoke all Islam by backing Israel at all costs, by funding Israel’s abuse of power or by sacrificing young Americans to perpetuate factional Islamic squabbles.
- I don’t believe that the war in Afghanistan is a necessity. Fix point 2 then the Taliban and Al Qaeda lose their raison d’etre.
- I’m astounded that the Obama administration has allowed the money manipulators to go back to business as usual bleeding the productive sector and that there hasn’t been rioting on the streets by those who’ve lost their jobs and their homes. Scrooge MacDuck is alive and well and bathing in your money again. The poor and the middle income earners are paying a heavy price for the excesses of the rich.
- I do believe that climate change is a challenge we can meet and with sensible policies could be economically beneficial to any country which grasps the opportunities for the planet and for all mankind. A uniting cause. To find out how to do it read Thomas L. Friedman’s excellent “Hot, Flat and Crowded”. So far, China is leading the way while the rest of us wring our hands.
Here in New Zealand it’s been even more depressing. The Key government have done nothing to initiate meaningful change. It’s all about staying in power. Never mind that we’re beating a path from being the richest nation on the planet to falling behind Botswana.
Too late now. Unless they have a cunning plan.