A recent opinion piece in the New York Times revealed that Democratic Party strategists have effectively written off the white working class vote, 43% to 48% of the overall electorate. With that revelation, we have come full circle on a presidency built on a lie, one that was perpetrated on the American people the night of July 27, 2004 at the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Here’s how it went down:
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us -- the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of "anything goes." Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
Those words, spoken by Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois, set the stage for one of the most improbable victory runs in recent American political history. A little-known Illinois state senator made a name for himself that night. Less than four and a half years later, and after serving in the U.S. Senate for just over two years before announcing his candidacy for president, he stood on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, raising his right hand to take the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States of America.
I refer back often to his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention because he played a character that night, like an actor in a movie, and we bought into it. Behold “The Great Uniter,” bringing hope and change to a divided nation after years of foreign wars and domestic strife. His book, The Audacity of Hope, continued the charade, and even I was fooled after reading it:
My thoughts after reading the book? To paraphrase British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s comments after her initial meeting with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, “I like Mr. Obama. We can do business together.” Yes, we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but his words suggest he seeks to understand and doesn’t instantly dismiss people like me in the self-righteous and condescening way liberals have adopted when addressing their conservative counterparts. He speaks of extending “the presumption of good faith to others” with whom he may not agree. He speaks honestly about the complexity of the challenges we face and the need for both sides to give a little and stay focused on common desired outcomes to move us forward. As he describes his various positions on issues, he demonstrates a broad understanding and isn’t afraid to give merit and consideration to concepts and approaches outside of liberal orthodoxy. The bottom line is that he treats his readers, whether they agree with him or not, with respect, he doesn’t presume to have all the answers, and he searches for areas of agreement as a starting point for dialogue because his emphasis is on getting things done. I think Americans are hungering for that kind of maturity in our politicians, and that is why he’s having an impact in this presidential race that exceeds his relative inexperience on the national political stage.
Perhaps Senator Obama is the perfect candidate for our times. In our celebrity-driven culture, substance matters less than style and Senator Obama has style in spades. Young, handsome, bright and oratorically gifted, he’s tailor-made for the age of “American Idol” and “Entertainment Tonight.” While it’s true that a President must be not just the nation’s chief executive but also a visionary leader and purveyor of hope, this is the first time in my recollection that the scales have tipped so dramatically toward inspiration over execution. We need to turn our gaze away from his illuminated being and think critically about what he actually proposes to do. As English philosopher, statesman and author Francis Bacon once said, “Hope is a good breakfast but it is a bad supper.”
Still, as he stood on that stage on Grant Park in Chicago that cool November evening, as grown men and women wept over the significance of what this supposedly irredeemably racist nation had just done, he once again stepped into character and, once again, he gave me false hope:
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.
I’m sorry, Mr. President, but this is not a movie, a play or a TV show. Just like many of our favorite entertainers disappoint us when they stop performing and actually open their mouths to express their opinions, you have revealed yourself to be a typical politician, willing to employ whatever political calculus you need to win.
Whether it’s ramming Obamacare through the Congress with false promises, backroom deals and “cooked” numbers that, slowly and over time, are revealed to be pure fiction, or launching a full-scale, all-out assault on success in America by demonizing the “makers” and antagonizing the “takers” over perceived injustices, or appealing to racial and class animus, you have dropped your mask and revealed yourself to be divisive, cynical and hypocritical.
Even as your party’s strategists dismiss the white working class voter as winnable for you, you continue to portray yourself as a populist fighting for the “little guy,” even though the numbers expose your lies.
Wall Street is fattening your campaign coffers more than all the Republican candidates combined, and they’ve made more money in the less than three years you’ve been the president than they did during the entire eight years of President Bush’s two terms. The public kabuki dance you and your Wall Street friends are performing, in which you say nasty things about each other, is yet another performance designed to mislead us.
I’m not falling for your act again, Mr. President. You are a charlatan and, worse, you are a fragmenter, a divider, a segmenter-in-chief. Are you so committed to victory that you’re willing to rip the nation apart in order to win?
Neither you nor your opponent, should he or she be the victor, will be able to put us back together again after you’ve done your damage and, in the midst of the worldwide crisis we are facing, your actions are unworthy of the leader of the free world.
May I suggest a new role, one which you have neglected for most of your term - how about president of and for all the people of these United States of America?