Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hope and Change?


In a few minutes the President of the United States will give his State of the Union speech. I've poured two fingers of bourbon over ice and will sip slowly as President Obama speaks. Last night I watched some of the Republican debate. I didn't drink during that as I've found it to be a waste to spit good liquor in disgust or have it come spraying out of my nose as I laugh. Tonight, as I wait for the speech, I thought I might discuss a little bit of why I don't want to vote for President Obama again even though I know I can't vote for any of the Republicans.

To begin with, I should tell you that I'm a liberal. I'm proud of that title. I believe in progressive politics, I don't believe that corporations are people, I am sure that the rich should gladly pay more than the poor and that the poor should be supported in every way to help them rise. I believe that everyone is equal under the law regardless of gender, race, creed, or sexual orientation. I'm very proud that New York State is no longer homophobic in its respect of the rights of all people to marry.

I am also a father of two school-age girls and a teacher in the public schools. I'm a union member. I have never served in the military. I do not own my own business. I'm not sure that I have ever, in my life, created a job. I am a writer. I believe that copyright is out of control. I don't believe in the war in Afghanistan, am sure we should not have invaded Iraq, and I am waiting for the detainees in Guantanamo to receive fair trials. I do not support the new immigration laws that are popping up in places like Arizona. I think Social Security is a great idea and I'm so glad that it is around to help support my parents and my in-laws.

That said, I should love this President. I voted for candidate Barack Obama and, I have to admit, were that guy to run again, I'd vote for him too. But instead, we have President Obama and I'm unsatisfied.

He is the worst education president we have had. He is worse than George W. Bush and has taken No Child Left Behind (a terrible policy to begin with) and made it worse. He has added on to it something called Race to the Top. Races leave only one or two winners at best, everyone else loses. Just as anyone who signs up for the local 5K. Just as every NFL player who doesn't play for the Giants or Patriots. He has cut essential programs such as Reading is Fundamental and the National Writing Project before even the Republicans had a chance to demand these things. Under his administration we are seeing the largest increase in testing of students that has ever occurred. All of this at the expense of learning. He has sold education to business leaders. He has sold our children's learning to not even the highest bidders.

This would be enough, but his stance on gay marriage offends me. That a black man would be so bigoted is beyond my belief. He says that his thinking on gay marriage is evolving. I wonder how it would sound if any other modern president had said the same thing about a non-white man serving as President. What if someone said that there opinion on Jews was evolving? Wouldn't that person be an anti-Semite? That he will not come out openly for gay marriage makes him homophobic in his actions and a disgrace.

Finally, he has let the foxes guard the henhouse when it comes to economics. We have spent billions to prop up corporations (they're people too, right?) but not helped homeowners. I would go on about this as much as I have about education, but to be honest, I don't have the expertise or the patience.

A friend asked, after I had said some of this to him, "you'll still vote for him, won't you?" I told him that I didn't think that I would. I'm too disappointed. I voted for Barack Obama in what I see now was a hopelessly naive notion that he really would inspire hope and bring about real change. I know that there is only so much one man can do, but I haven't seen him really fighting for change or trying to inspire in me any real hope. I'm all out of hope for this administration.

I'll watch the State of the Union tonight, as I always do. I'll sip my bourbon. And in November, I will think hard in the voting booth. But as things stand, I won't vote for him. I won't work for his reelection. And I sure as hell won't give his campaign any money (not that any politician needs my money after Citizens United).

I'm sorry that this has been such a bummer of a post. I'm tired of politics. I'm tired of the Republicans and Democrats. And I'm tired of the empty promise of Barack Obama. I had such high hopes. But nothing changed.

It's hard to say it tonight, but there really is nothing to do but to write on.