I was a fan of Obama’s in 2008. Well, to be fair, it was more like I thought he might be able to bring bipartisan change to the government. I had always kind of disliked the whole political system and saw Obama as someone who was stepping outside of it.
Of course, at the time, I didn’t know much about politics. Well, that’s not quite accurate. I knew almost nothing about politics and found the whole process boring. As a result, I listened to what much of the media told me about Obama, and I accepted it wholesale. I even got rather indignant that anyone would attack him or refuse to listen to his ideas. It especially shames me to admit this part, as I’ve criticized political polarization in the past.
But I was more naive back then. As I got older, I felt compelled to honestly review the political scene. I realized that I had to think for myself and not just accept what the media was telling me. I realized that for all I knew, I might be taking in lies and half-truths without even second-guessing them. As it so happens, I was.
Obama has consistently claimed that he is trying to work with Congress, but that they keep standing in his way. To younger me, this seemed like Congress was stubborn. To older me, I see that they had differing opinions, yet Obama has consistently said that the opinions of others in our government are just plain wrong. He has been an ultra-partisan president.
If you strongly agree with his ideals, then you might consider it good that he “stuck to his guns”. But my point here is that he failed to live up to his promise. And the same could be said of his promises to back out of wars, let people keep their healthcare, reverse government intrusion into citizen’s lives, fix the economy, etc.
Of course, we all know that many in the media have given him a pass on these points. Likewise, die-hard partisans have overlooked these things. Many have tried to brush such matters under the rug, but most have at least begrudgingly admitted that Obama failed to live up to expectations.
Ah, but this election cycle we’ve seen the likes of Trump and Sanders. While Trump hasn’t made many big promises, both have been the hope of their respective fan bases. Both have been cheered as a surefire solution to certain perceived problems in our country. Both have been held up in some demographics as harbingers of change. This sounds eerily familiar.
One of these candidates has already dropped out, not only admitting defeat, but quickly reversing his previous positions on change in favor of supporting the very epitome of what he was rebelling against. The other has previously supported his antithesis, and should he win or lose would likely revert to melding back in with the culture that he says he so strongly opposes.
Of course, none of this is a critique on particular policies or platforms. This is simply a statement that if you expect your preferred candidate to work miracles and bring about drastic change, you’ll be severely disappointed. This is because they’re human, like you and me. They’re faulty, like you and me. In fact, this very insight into the nature of man was why the founding fathers infused the Constitution with so many limits to power.
And this should clue us in to these candidates. They, like the ideals they espouse for their versions of utopia, cannot be as good as they claim to be. We know this from experience. We know this from common sense. But every time they either fail to be elected or succeed long enough to become the villain (and not in that warm-and-fuzzy Batman sort of way). But still we keep hoping, election cycle after election cycle.
“This time,” we say, “my candidate will be different.”