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US Politics

The Yearling in The White House

As America enters the second year of the Obama Presidency, the public mood is displaying a growing level of political angst.

The First Signs of Trouble

In the heat of the 2008 campaign I found myself reading between 300 to 400 emails every morning before attempting to produce another article in support of Senator Obama’s campaign. This resulted from my decision in January 2008, to join more than 100 Obama groups covering every American state, including some specialist sites which traversed all states. e.g. Educators for Obama. When I confide that I invited 378 friends to my personal blog in Obama for America, the task of producing my Telling Thoughts website articles in addition proved a real time management challenge.

I raise this matter to draw attention to the serious decline in the level of activity on Organising for America ( OFA ) sites in recent months.  During 2008 and into 2009, the precursor to the OFA, (Obama for America) site traffic was extremely heavy. The energy filled emails offered a near enough to real time insight, into what supporters and activists were feeling and experiencing every day. It was a valuable barometer by which to measure the intensity of their campaign efforts and a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the dedication of so many people from all walks of life, from all parts of the country, to the Obama cause.

But that was then – and this is now. From about the time President Obama decided to commit approximately 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan together with the Senate Democrats botched handling of the  healthcare debate,  the volume of supporter traffic on the Organising For America site (OFA) has virtually dropped off the radar. Obviously many Americans are flat out trying to cope with current difficulties in various forms, however I sense that many have also become quite disillusioned. People say they want to continue to support Mr Obama, but in return they expect to see some runs on the board for their efforts. OFA traffic has now reached the stage where I receive only one or two emails each morning.  That represents the type of change, one should worry about.

Questions To Consider

Are you feeling somewhat disillusioned with the performance of President Obama and his White House aides?  Do you agree with the President’s trying to please everybody approach?  If you answer yes to the first question, and in the negative to the second, then it is understandable if you to feel a bit peeved about the current state of affairs in Washington. But be assured, you are not alone with your misgivings. The lack of  traffic on OFA sites clearly suggests that many of Barack’s most enthusiastic 2008 campaign workers and supporters are concerned. If this sums up how you feel, you may be eligible for membership of a new Club for Obama supporters. i.e. “The We elected you, We busted our gut (and purse strings ) for you, The Now its Up to You, And What the Hell are you doing About it?”, Club. Or put another way. ” The Did we back the Right Horse in 2008?” Club. Of course you did. However it helps to remember that Obama has only run the first furlong of potentially an eight furlong race and the Republican alternative in 2008, the horrible to contemplate McCain/ Palin ticket, was no alternative at all. A view given further credence by subsequent events. It is no stretch of the imagination to say that America was saved by the election of Barack Obama. Even so, no one should be above constructive criticism.

The Massachusetts Mess

As America enters the second year of the Obama Presidency, the public mood is displaying a growing level of political angst. As the Democrats US Senate election loss in Massachusetts so pointedly demonstrated, disillusioned Independent voters deserted the Obama camp. And undoubtedly more will follow unless things are handled differently by the President. At polling booths all across the Bay state, a state taken for granted by the Democrats, disgruntled Independents doused their 2008 campaign lights of hope, and promptly voted for the polar opposite of change. They were determined to send a message that their vote couldn’t be taken for granted. They also used the vote to signal their unhappiness with the Senate Democrats and the President’s mishandling of a number of issues including healthcare. Their loss of faith has seen many return to the less demanding haven of the non aligned voter. Whether they will return to the Obama fold at some future date is entirely up to the President and the Democrats. Perhaps this setback for the Democrats coming so early might teach them valuable lessons. It could be a blessing in disguise, but the Blue Dogs will have to line up for the President, or be ditched.

Legislative Success Trumps Campaign Promises

People have every right to expect tangible results for their efforts and support. Reassuring words and excuses emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are not what they want to hear nor is this what they voted for. They rightly expect the President to bring into line recalcitrant Senators, especially the group of Blue dog  Democrats. In the meantime, the still floundering White House, from the President down, appears oblivious to the fact, that for this Presidency, historic as it was, danger time has arrived early. The word is out. The authority of the Presidency is being weakened by the actions of Senate Democrats, more than by any Republican strategy. The President needs to use the power he holds under the Constitution, and start taking charge.

Take Voters For Granted At Your Peril

Republicans desperately want to believe that the GOP’s Senate win in Massachusetts coupled with it’s  gubernatorial wins in Virgina and New Jersey,  signaled a Republican resurgence across the Country. For my money it is one of those political myths designed to restore the depleted GOP campaign coffers. You can bet your bottom dollar that rational minds wouldn’t put their house on that claim.  And as most who study politics appreciate, more often than not, contests between two major parties are usually decided by the swinging voter and Independents. And it appears that disgruntled Independents decided Massachusetts. It was their first big opportunity to tell Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress that they expect them to start delivering on the people’s 2008 mandate. That is their right. and many Obama supporters agree with them.

Sewing The Seeds of Political Corruption

Politicians need to be reminded that the votes they deliver in Congress actually belong to the American people. A vote in Congress should represent the will of the electors and reflect the policy of the Party they voted for. Votes in Congress, under law, must never under any circumstances be available for sale to lobbyists for special interests or any other party. That is corrupt. The recent United States Supreme Court decision supporting the right of corporations to directly fund political campaigns represents a direct attack on the individual franchise rights of every citizen of the United States. This horrendous anti – democratic decision must be overturned on appeal as soon as the current Administration has an opportunity to alter the political complexion of the Court.

Rhetoric Rarely Matches Reality

Political lures wrapped in rhetoric, historical notations, eloquence and promises of reform are par for the course when political hopefuls campaign for votes.  However when a candidate is charismatic, people can get excited and caught up by promises which occasionally are right over the top. The big feel good ones, the bigger the better, real whoppers that deep down you know just won’t happen. After all, why should we expect someone in full flight on the campaign trail to hold back, to seem measured and restrained, when raising the bar adds so much more in prospect to the occasion.

What Are Promises Worth?

In such an environment, trifling matters like unrealistic promises usually go unchallenged. They are given little import when an atmosphere is positive, emotionally charged and the adrenalin is flowing. It’s like party time. This is precisely why well funded candidates engage paid speech writers to create a platform image for candidates to deliver the ‘knock em dead and get ’em up on their feet’  speeches. The product of  well researched, motivational material used to empower campaign spiels and timed to morph into adrenalin pumping  entertainment to capture and enrapture an audience. Unlike the big money spent by spellbound audiences at rock concerts, attendance at a political talk fest is absolutely free. And the receptive audience gets it’s political fix without needing  an American Express card.

Results Are the Name of the Game

We have come to expect truckloads of rhetoric from political aspirants over the years. After all, political campaigning is political campaigning, regardless of the era, whether a candidate’s message was delivered from the back of a farm truck during the great depression or last week from a football stadium dais, with 70,000 screaming followers and millions watching on television and around the world via satellite. Yet when all the campaigning is done, when the results are known, when the streamers and bunting come down, the only thing voters care about is whether promises made will be honoured. They voted to get results and they expect results, which when things go well, implies a dividend. Promising results are what the campaign hooplah is all about when candidates are selling hope. Now, all of a sudden after the President’s inaugural year in office, there appears to be a worrying loss of confidence in the Obama White House. Doubt has entered the minds of many who supported the election of Barack Obama. They recall the Obama promises. The Obama self confidence. Results were promised. People felt that with this President, their hopes might be realized.

Meanwhile people are still waiting. Their unrealized hopes kept alive as a token of their faith in their President. President Obama says he will never give up. In response, his supporters should remind him that they will never let up. He wanted the job, they gave it to him,  he made the promises, they will hold him to them.

Mr President, it is time to deliver. Americans needs to get on with building their future.

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Discussion

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  1. During the long presidential campaign, John Hay informed, inspired, and encouraged Obama supporters at every step. With his remarkable background and perspective, clearly evident in this superb article, he continues to share our concerns and to bolster our spirits. For these things, John, all our thanks!

    To my fellow Obama supporters, I offer some simple tried-and-true ways to respond to the present frustration, disillusionment,and anger that most of us are feeling to some degree. First, remember the old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is no time to waver in support of our President; it is a time to redouble our efforts to support him, even when letting the White House know we disagree with the Administration. Even if your local and state party seem moribund, their energy levels and enthusiasm low, there is much you can do. Inactivity is not an option. Be persistent enough with your Congressional representative and senators that they know your name well. If you are courteous and well-prepared to defend your position, you will be heard, even when they disagree with you. A reminder several times a week to those who represent you is not unreasonable, particularly when an important vote is imminent.

    Since there is so much misinformation about what Congress and the White House are doing at any given time, prepare yourself to answer questions from your neighbors and fellow Obama supporters about issues and pending legislation. When voters find a reliable source of information, you will become the “go to” source of information — a service, by the way, that seems much appreciated. Stay in touch with your local and state officers of the Democratic Party; don’t hesitate to voice your concerns. There are exceptions, of course, but many members of Congress, particularly the House, are eager to please their constituents. Recently, more than 100K visitors to the Fire Dog Lake web site voted for the three members of the House judged to be most deserving of a donation to their campaign funds. This kind of grassroots activism is effective; it is less about the money than it is a gauge of how voters view the responsiveness and effectiveness of House members. When the actions of your representative or senators please you, thank them.

    Above all, keep the faith! We will get through this.

    Posted by Bebe | February 16, 2010, 1:38 am
  2. Great site…keep up the good fight! I am a big Obama supporter but feel his agenda was hurt by the super majority. In his obsession to retain all 60 votes he compromised on health care every step of the way. The resulting bill was too watered down and ineffective to make any meaningful change. I hope now that the Dems lost the 60 seat majority that they will return to a truly progressive agenda not held hostage by a few “moderate” Dems. Now is the time to recapture the magic and pass real reform and aggressively enact the agenda we voted him for.
    dropdeadpolitics.com

    Posted by dropdeadpolitcs | February 16, 2010, 9:38 am