Married to Obamanation
Written By: Carlos Pazmino.
Four years ago was the notable one, the one I will remember for the rest of my life. Being in Harlem, when it was announced. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer picking out California, Oregon, and Washington states. Getting over 270. I walked from 116th street to my apartment in Park
Slope, Brooklyn, and I swore I heard the subways honking in celebration. The sounds of New York welcomed the 44th President, the man who would fix America.
If he could do it, so could I. I supported that idea, so I worked for his campaign. I worked for the man I wanted to become.
I worked for the change I believed in and the hope I thought I had for this country. And though I couldn’t vote being a naturalized resident; I did. I voted with my heart, I was inspired. Barack Obama was my President.
Four years later I find myself in a similar, but different predicament. Once again I live in my own apartment, but thanks to Hurricane Sandy my payroll is a bit late. I’m close to Harlem; I go to college in Harlem. Its election year and I worked for the campaign again.
But I’ve grown more idealistic. Sometimes I flirt with the extremes of radicalism. I’ve been a Libertarian, I’ve been Progressive. I met Anarchists and I’ve befriended Communist Revolutionaries. I once joined the Tea Party and I have #Occupied WallStreet. While I’ve never formally endorsed a political ideology, I never stopped believing that the political discourse we engage in this country can manifest to the betterment of the societal whole.
We are engaged in a conversation that will somehow change the providence of what we define to be America. Fortunately these past four years have opened the doors to more of these conversations. Unfortunately some of them have evolved ugly, and terrifyingly enough the ugliest ones took power.
This Election is an exercise of cynicism for me. The people I met these past four years have molded me to expect something different.
Working for electoral campaigns during the worst economic crisis since the great depression molded me to recent this system.
There is nothing more crushing than sitting on a porch, consoling a woman brought down to tears because her son’s college tuition and her home were in jeopardy of not being paid, and subsequently asking her to contribute for a campaign to keep politicians accountable for. It was stupid, I quit that job.
I realized the policies I vicariously voted for four years ago did not reflect those I thought I was endorsing . The benefits of the administration we revered for those early months in 2009 went to the people who profited from the collapse they manufactured.What I learned was that politics is a game of interests and investments. The people were but a side note who needed to be pandered to acquire power. The idea of the better of two evils remains clear as day. Because a radical choice would upset the established order of things.That’s why we compromise.Barack Obama is just a man with a powerful title. His responsibilities lay on deciding which bills are approved, which military strikes must be made, what agenda must be pursued by his party, and what he’ll do when reelection came around. To keep the ball rolling he has to compromise, if he wins reelection he’ll compromise even more, and he’ll continue pissing off people like me.
He is not an unlikable guy, but he is not someone I trust. Politically I can agree with most of what he believes in –I liked healthcare reform(even though it is not a reform of the broken system), I believe gays should marry, I do think taxes should go up for the wealthy, and wall street regulation has to constantly be pursued to maintain the system — but I hate what he has done with my support. Because he makes me endorse the worst of what he provides. I hate his foreign policy, I hate his kill lists, and I hate having to fear what I say. I hate that he has the power to detain, in loose interpretation, those he and his administration deem to be a threat. I hate his drone strikes and I hate his continued support for Benjamin Netanyahu and his genocidal agenda to annihilate the Palestinians. I hate his support for big banks and I hate his inability to propose a robust addition to the social safety net.
But hate is a term expressed by emotion and that emotion comes from disappointment. I am still a product of this system, I will always be married to this system. I became a citizen and I now call America my home. I’m an American political scientist. I once wrote that the President would succeed by being what the title of the job would force him to do, by being the chief of the military. He has. He will be reelected.
The President of the United States kills people, it is the reality of the job. Even if I had supported Ron Paul the reality of the job would have destroyed the constitutional verisimilitude he campaigned for. Ron Paul would have had no choice but to kill people.
The President is married to special interests. But some liberals forget Unions are special interests too. The President of the United States will always support big business, because from its founding this country was build from enterprise.
But what’s different now is the type of people who are running against him. What they represent and the interests who invest with them.
The extremes have been endorsed by the worst that this system could offer. Whatever good ideas that were offered to cure the ills of this system, they have been shuttered to play a cynical game. Money has been used to perpetuate the truly disgusting edges of the ideologies. Whatever nobility could have been offered by the Libertarians, by the Occupiers, by the Ron Paul Tea partiers, it has been hijacked by the reactionaries, the birthers, the greedy, and the uncaring. The media tarnished whatever alternative could have been used to upset this system by validating their stances. The cynics allowed this virus to grow with resentments. And the party interests endorsed them because the main priority became the defeat of a single head of state.
The planet is in shambles. Sandy –I hope– is the wake up call.
Women now have to fear for the right to choose, the poor have to be concerned on the scant assistance they receive, and to the extent that can be foreseen the programs that should assist those who need the most are in present danger to be completely destroyed.
For good conscience I cannot vote for that. Even with the empirical reserves I have for this system.
If ever there was a time when the choice for the rhetorical better of two evils ever represented a stark choice of morality, this was such crossroad. And though subjecting to the system validates the system, I cannot allow the alternative to win. Because for whatever its worth, the dishonor of making a choice in the system I know is nowhere near as damaging or perverse as the one that has every intention to formulate.
Four years ago I sat on the cafeteria of the Beacon School to watch the inauguration of the first African American President of The United States. I dreamt of these next four years, how good they would be. I promised that my first vote would go to him because he would always be that candidate. Nothing could ever have him become everything I knew was wrong. Four years later the word nuance came to mind. I studied him, I will remember him as a man unable to fulfill unmatchable expectations. I will remember his failures and when I knew he would be the last of his kind I would support. But in nuance I realized the alternative to him is an alternative I know far too well. One I simply, even humorously, can never allow to formulate. Because its wrong.
November 4th 2012
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