In Joel Hirschhorn’s article “Why So Many Americans Hate Obama” he wants the President to tell it how it is. Maybe so we can be affirmed that our greatness as a country is diminishing. He wants Obama to connect with us at an emotional level, with a sense of authenticity about the reality of America.
I think this is asking too much of a politician. That he can’t play head chief and best friend as well. It would be refreshing to see, but unrealistic. He can’t afford to show vulnerability to the public, especially with a re-election campaign looming. For Obama to hold onto power, he must charge ahead with confidence and an unrelenting vision, not slow down with painful verisimilitude and honesty.
It isn’t that American’s hate Obama, it’s that we hate what we think we are. This broad and generalized “Americans” we speak of have an identity in being the best. It’s an identity we grew up with, were taught in grade school history classes—with each pledging allegiance to the flag—that became about domination of economics, athletics, and politics. The information on the perceived conquering is only relayed through popular media outlets. Through newspaper headlines or popular web articles. Everything is a spin. Our economic decline, although real, isn’t anything new. Our wars since 9/11 are eerily similar to past wars.
Our comparisons to emerging foreign markets will always be met with mediocrity. Nothing has changed except our perception and belief that our country is on the decline. We’ve lost confidence in “national greatness” because other countries buy and sell more products and because we didn’t really win two wars that were half way around the world from us.
We don’t hate Obama, we hate that he represents our failed collective selves. Obama will never save us and neither will anyone after him.
We put hope in that every four years and are always met with a surprised disappointment. History is cyclical. Our errors are not new. Current times aren’t uniquely bad. We’re not the only people in the history of the universe to suffer through economic downturns and a feeling of underachieving.
So why do we continue to put our hope in presidents, in economies, in a perception of “national greatness”, and in a global market where we’re still so concerned about the soil under our feet we lose hold of the world as an interconnected pulse that continues regardless of our wins and losses?
Our hope, therefore, cannot be in those makeshift things, those clouds of vapor. Our mission shouldn’t be in “winning the future” but rather in creating the present with an honesty of terrible vulnerability, of being real to each other in our weaknesses and fears, of creating a genuine community that seeks compassion amid chaos, while prioritizing restoration of families and broken lives.
Everything else becomes a distraction, an excuse from tending the garden of humanity, and sends us in a downward spiral of self-defeat and fatalism, a universal trap door.
I don’t need to be connected with Obama’s speech’s in a “visceral way”. I don’t need to find hope in his dreams and vision. I need to be connected to ordinary people with compassion, who hope in beauty and truth, and more than anything, in love.