During the election, I admit the slogans of “hope” and “change” hooked me. Barack Obama’s speeches were soaring, and uplifting. I felt like maybe we finally could have a leader that cared more about the people than the corporations that lined politicians’ pockets.
I have given him time and his actions on many fronts show me that his promises of hope and change were just that, promises. He promised to end the war in Iraq in 16 months, yet we know now it won’t be until 2011. He promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and yet his Justice Department defended it. He promised to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, yet under his administration we lost another Farsi translator because he was gay.
Employee Free Choice Act? Dead.
Those banks that got billions and billions? Still partying like its 1999.
And Guantanamo Bay will probably remain in business.
Honestly, I believe when he made those promises he intended to keep them, I have to believe that. The problem may not be with the President, but with Congress. The president can only make suggestions and policy, but the Congress writes the rules. So far, the Democrats in Congress have cowered to Republican threats of filibuster and have let bills die, or get changed so much that they don’t have the power of the original legislation. They are being wimps.
Now the debate is on in Congress on the Healthcare Reform. The Republicans want the public option to die, even though 76% of Americans at least somewhat support a public option. There are members of the Democratic Party who are being swayed away from the public option because of the cost, yet most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone can have health insurance. They are being wimps and it pisses me off, and the result will be a bill that does little to insure the uninsured or uninsurable.
But this is OUR fault. When we sit idly by and just hope we become unaccountable for the mess that we are in. We live in a participatory democracy and our participation should not end after we’ve casted our vote on the first Tuesday in November. But too often, we trust that our leaders will carry out our will simply because we voted for them.
The only way we can be heard is by speaking out, writing our Congress persons, and protesting in the streets. Without our participation, promises of change are just rhetoric. If you aren’t paying attention, you are just as responsible as our politicians. “I always believe that ultimately, if people are paying attention, then we get good government and good leadership. And when we get lazy, as a democracy and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics.” Barack Obama, May 21, 2009.
Start paying attention and start being heard.