Wednesday, December 23, 2009

American Apathy

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's sad is that the Obama Administration - fresh off of the high of creating history as the first Black president and the president that would usher in an era of a post-partisan, post-racial America - has either lost its ability to capture America's imagination past the rush of January 20, 2009, or it has completed lost its desire to keep its finger driving the pulse of American activism as we approach 2010.

Either way, it's a sad state that we're in as a nation.

At the beginning of this presidency, we had a well-intended president-elect - along with this wife - spending MLK Day doing community service projects, calling on other Americans to help rebuild America while looking forward to working across the aisle in an open Washington environment that would be free of lobbyist rule, political cronyism, and partisan arm-twisting.

Ah, how the hope has become nope in such a short year full of many disappointments.

And the culmination? The epitome of Washington at its worst during this health care debate, from the president's insistence to "...inject (himself) into the Senate's version of the bill..." to ensure that question of abortion was injected back into the mix to the Landrieu Compromise, the Full Nelson, and the Joe Lie(berman) Job done in the Senate during the debate.

And during all of this maddening mix of broken promises, backroom deals, and backtracking with jobs, what have many Americans - particularly those that adamantly supported the president as a candidate with their campaign efforts and spouting off of Obama Rhetoric in 2008 - done during the much of 2009?


The rhetoric that the Obamas' presence in the White House could help to heal the Black community? Violence is going on within the communities as much as it has over the past 10 years.

The rhetoric that Obama's presence as Commander-in-Chief would bring prestige to America overseas and allow diplomacy to be a better option? Lost on apathetic Americans overlooking that fact that nations such as Iran and North Korea ignored American threats for much of the year and allies in Europe take opportunities to diss America whenever convenient, even as they handed President Obama a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

The rhetoric that there will be bipartisan ideas and cooperation to fix America's economy and issues with health care, education, and equality went out of the window with the words "I won" from the president to the minority party before winter ended.

And the American people - again, mainly those young, Black, and eager voters from 2008?


And if there is a dearth that we experienced during 2009, it's nothing that should be exclusively pinned on the 44th president, regardless of how misleading, unsuccessful, or misinterpreted his efforts (or, more accurately in many instances, the efforts of those within his party's leadership on Capitol Hill) have been. AAS (the American Apathetic Syndrome) has reared its ugly head, showing us that the truth health care reform has to come from our interaction with the uncontrollable political animal that is...well...modern-day politics.

The tea party movement of 2009 may be a chance to keep people engaged and going step-for-step with (and, in many ways, toe-to-toe with) their governments, but sadly, this often represented only the conservative side of the American equation. The apathy of the one-time voters that promised political investment (many of the same folks that "understood" when Mrs. Obama claimed to finally be "proud to be an American" during her husband's ascent to the White House) have sold out much more than the president did when he preached "education justice" for poor Black children, only to cut funding to poor Black children in primary education and funding for poor Black young adults for college education during mid-2009.

The unapologetic backslide to partisan mud-slinging and -wresting by both sides of the aisle in Washington has a direct tie to the apathetic American voter - that young, short-memory-riddled citizen that refused to take hold of history in 2009, instead choosing to watch history unfolded as if it were some strange reality TV show where the amount of zeroes behind the big digits concerning the money being spent by Washington has no real impact on them. Without that person being actively involved, there remained the opportunity to regularly polarize the nation into a "us vs them" division into teams at a time when the United States stood ready to unite more than ever - past the perception that it was too racist to have a Black president, that it was too shallow to have spirited and respectful debate to find the best solutions regardless of political origin, and that it was too entrenched in the politics of old to follow the spirit of 2008 with a freshing renewal of hope to make a new path for America in 2009.

That person - that young, energetic, Obama-ized voter (even though that voted against him in 2008, though few and far between with that demographic) - stay home in 2009. In fact, based on what I saw in Washington first-hand, that person left Washington right after the Oath of Office at the Inauguration, not even staying around long enough to listen to the Inaugural Speech.

If the glitz and glamour of this 44th presidency does not invigorate more young Americans to claim their piece of history, then we are looking at the very sad - and real - possibility that America as we know it will be history before too long. The moves of Obama, Congress, and others will just become nothing more than the two-step that we have seen in Washington for the last few decades - without accountability from an apathetic American populace that would rather find history handed to them from on high instead of finding the high in lowering the boom to a political culture that needs a true paradigm shift, not just a partisan change that we believed in...for a little while.

1 comment:

  1. Incredible post! And so true...there IS a bigger threat to this country than the current administration - an apathetic America that isn't paying attention, or just doesn't care.