Photo from HBO’s ‘By the People: The Election of Barack Obama’: Barack Obama
In 2008 my friends and I were 18 years-old, fresh out the adult oven, warm, toasty and eagerly following the campaign for president. We watched the news and presidential debates together in fascination and pensiveness. Though most of us are basically NYU-attending, grubby, pinko liberals on most social issues, over time it was apparent that we, like many generations before us, would inevitably split into politically charged polarized groups.
I, of course, was on the Barack Obama end of the molecule. Though I didn’t really buy into the “CHANGE” sentiment that was sweeping much of my demographic off its feet, I did feel that after two terms of W. Bush, our country’s pendulum was ready to swing in the other direction. I was attracted by such shallowly significant things as Obama’s charisma and vernacular, but I was also more on board with his proposed policies, like pushing health care and immigration reform and transition to greener energy, which seemed to me more reasonable and attainable courses of action than those of John McCain.
When the election results showed that Obama won by a landslide, a friend of mine slouched in his chair, believing that health care and life for doctors would essentially be communized and bleakened, and I thought about the possibility of cheap health care and immigration reform potentially improving the lives of people living in the country further into the future.
Though I must admit, the feeling I had that election night probably consisted more of relief due to McCain/Palin not being elected than Obama/Biden doing so. Sure, I was hopeful that things would get better with a change of administration heads, but I had no grand illusions that any political party ever would entirely correspond with my beliefs and certainly not that every campaign promise Mr. Obama made would magically come true. Converse to the relative ease in which a promise can be technically ‘fulfilled’ is the difficulty legislators have in their slow trudge through thick bureaucracy to anything that resembles a final decision, even for the timeliest of issues.
Not to mention that the supposed big ‘punishment’ that we’re allowed as citizens to hand out is in our votes — or lack thereof. If anyone ever asked me if I’m satisfied with what the Obama administration has accomplished so far, I’d say no. This has both to do with the bent promises that can be more directly attributed to man Obama himself (see: Guantanamo Bay), but also the sometimes ridiculously slow and unreasonable legislative process and decision-making.
In order for Obama to win not just my sympathies but also my actual/female/Latina vote against whatever Republican (dare I say Tea Party?…) candidate that will run against him, mere campaign promises won’t cut it. Seeing as how I’m simultaneously concerned and apathetic at this political moment I would need to see some initiative, some ‘winning the future’ on more than a symbolic level. In order to prove to me that there will be less pussyfooting around in a hypothetical second term Obama and his administration might want to consider:
- Immigration reform – Protection and a more dynamic policy for undocumented immigrants and their families are dire. Simply shifting the focus to border safety related to drug war would be unproductive. Also, that whole Operation Fast & Furious thing didn’t inspire any confidence.
- Disagreements – Seem lately to be even moreso points of avoidance rather than discussion or solution. The debt ceiling talks was laughably handled. Congressional Republicans essentially halted discussion on trade agreements with Colombia and Panama this month–because reduced-tariff trade programs in smaller countries such as these are apparently a huge threat for U.S. jobs?
- The States – I’m all for Federalism, but the piecemeal attacks on civil liberties and women’s healthcare are starting to get out of hand.
- The War(s) – For instance, do you remember when you made that big speech to say you’re only taking out the number of troops that were placed in Afghanistan during your administration? Just saying.
- Education vs. Military-Industrial Complex: If we’re going to invest what ‘little’ money we have in anything that would have long-lasting effects you might want to consider choosing soon…