Well, two years on, what have you to say for yourself, Mr. Obama? In the petty Bolshivek moment of your election there was a building of expectations. I tried to keep mine in check, but it was and is clear that not everyone did so. There were those who countered pessimism with statements like well, at least he can construct a sentence, and I granted them that.

 

From some place of inexperience I also grant you some benefit of doubt with regard to the possibility or impossibility persuading the people’s representatives to do the right things. It is quite possible that the resistance is too great. You seemed to have great faith in this unification strategy, but what must thereby exist? You would wish to have an unusual power of persuasion or that the parties involved have a willingness to unify, probably both. I suspect you’d say you have to believe that no one is so entrenched as to be beyond reach. I’m not sure I see ­­the evidence to support this theory.

 

•••

 

Americans seem to be a stubborn lot, dragged to justice kicking and screaming. And this quality is thought to be a virtue, like the ‘can do spirit’. This is a typical over-reaction, born of fear, a condition afflicting the earth’s entire population. FDR tried to say something about fear, I assume he was trying to reassure Americans in a troubled time. Has there ever been a un-troubled time? Historians use an expression: a time of relative calm.

 

So now you say yes we can but it might take a while, a caveat that no doubt the advisors would suggest you drop on the campaign trail. I suppose you think of timescale relative to other accomplishments. As we live on, things might seem to take less time (or do they really): dismantling slavery took some time and effort, as did burying Jim Crow or removing the barricades to education for the darker brothers and sisters, for example. But even ‘liberals’ with their ‘theory’ of evolution might suggest that things take time, a lot of time. How much time do we have? Is there ‘urgency’?

 

The issue here is that your adversary seems to think that their aims are best served by dismantling government, and that those worthy will succeed and come to dominate, indeed survive, and populate the future. And further, anyone who falls behind is simply unworthy, unqualified or at least unlucky, and this is not seen as immoral or tragic (despite the advocates’ title as tragic visionaries), it’s the part of a Darwinian future to which they can subscribe.

 

And the use of god is so convenient, for when we essentially play god by neglect or by the sword, we needn’t take responsibility for these actions, for we have been chosen by god to participate. We are doing well our jobs, and with our can do spirit. But I suppose the godless can engage similar behavior by either complete oblivion or the shrug of fate; gazing not at injustice or simply accepting the circumstances as inevitable.

 

Take the example of national healthcare, or healthcare for all. Some tragic visionaries wouldn’t shirk from simply suggesting that those who cannot arrange their health are genetically unsound, just unfit. The system by which the wealthy buy their health works out fine for them, they can give thanks around the table of bounty, for they are worthy and wealthy and god has granted their just reward. God may have not mentioned that those who have not are inferior or faulty, but we can assume as much. I am not a theologian, but I’m not sure how this squares with other Christian stuff about compassion or whathaveyou, but no matter. So then the persuasion Mr. Obama is charged with has to do with moral obligation. This is what I think a Brit suggests to Michael Moore exists in societies that have constructed national healthcare: it is a moral obligation for government to provide at least basic and decent healthcare for all peoples within a border. This seems like an easy sell, but it appears easily torn down by not if I have to pay for it and to a lesser extent, I deserve the very best and somehow although I am wealthy, the very best will not be available to me if a nation is to provide healthcare to everyone or even basic healthcare to everyone.

 

Occasionally, I want to think about government service as a matter of priorities, but I’m not enough of a mathematician to discover whether progressive priorities would outspend or rescue us from the military-industrial complex. There are figures related to the daily spending on ‘war’, that sure make it seem like money might be better spent, even if ‘wasted’ on feeding or housing people. The question as to whether the fear of relinquishing economic dominance to other global interests is founded or not, is one that may be beyond me. But if history tells something, such cyclical rises and falls suggest that Americans of some generation closer or farther will find out first hand. And regardless of whether we were to bring it upon ourselves by ‘moral’ behavior, by playing the dove among nations, the belligerence at the heart of American pride makes this possibility remote of course. Other virtues are stated as to die trying, never retreat, etc, etc.

 

And so we come to a discussion essentially of lethargy. It is easier to do nothing than to do something. Sometimes it seems like this might catch up to us, to bite us from behind; that short term thinking will reveal itself to have been short-sided. It is a matter of risk management some say, one wouldn’t have wanted to squander resources unnecessarily and discover this in hindsight. But what really are the significant risks of doing the right thing unnecessarily?

 

There is the problem of the subjectivity of correct action. Do I risk suggesting that in their calmer moments, most people know deeply what is right and it needn’t be pointed out to them? I may not evidence to support this theory either. If it had been asked of a Jim Crow advocate, who may have or may not have identified himself as such, do you know it unjust that a darker person’s human rights be suppressed? There are so many loopholes in de-humanization; human rights needn’t be extended to people who are sub-humanized.

 

It is easier to dismantle government than to make it functional, to monitor its corruption, to minimize its blunders. It is amazing that corporations are not held to the same standards, then, this is another screaming point hurled at Mr. Obama and his perpetuation of Bush’s bailouts - stated so well by someone, I paraphrase: Some find it somehow acceptable this situation - “Privatize the profit – Public-ize the risk.”

 

This double standard illustrates to me the fact that, for the most part, Americans do not know suffering. Americans do know how to scream. Should we believe that if wealth doesn’t cover needs that Americans would sit upon the wreckage of their lives, should they be subject to disaster of one type or another, and be heard saying: “Oh well, I guess I didn’t work or pray hard enough, and this tragedy that has befallen me and my brethren just proves that I am unworthy.” Americans feel entitled, chosen by their gods like all the rest of them. Too bad their apocalyptic fantasies will be too subtle for them to recognize as such; I’d like to see them crawling to a government that they have dismantled.

 

November 2010