We voted for Barack Obama in 2008, not just because he was intelligent and articulate and had better ideas, but because he was not a normal politician—he spoke clearly and answered questions directly. He didn’t play the game the way politicians were supposed to, and that is what gave us hope. The disappointment some feel is not primarily that he is not as liberal as expected, or that his effectiveness is limited, but that he now doesn’t seem so different from the rest of the establishment.
We didn’t expect someone who could solve every problem. We voted for the candidate we thought might lead the way out of politics-as-usual, not because he promised big changes, but because he framed it differently. He addressed potential voters as adults.
That tone is still there, tucked away among the grandiose ideas of campaign rhetoric. Obama is the adult in the room when compared to most of the governmental establishment. But real change doesn’t come suddenly. A permanent shift of the way our government operates will not come about from the work of one person, no matter how charismatic.
He has confronted and clashed with political reality, but I don’t believe that Obama has changed character. He has, of necessity, adjusted his message, but his core beliefs seem to be the same. He never was the extreme liberal some wanted him to be, and some feared. The same applies regarding him being pacifistic, socialistic, or against gun ownership. In other words, you could say that he hasn’t caved in to the political pressures of either Right or Left.
The way I see it, even if you don’t agree with any of his positions, Obama is still the best available option to achieve some small measure of positive change in the system. My hope is not in a man, but in our ability to slowly work our way out of the messes we always get into. And in so doing, to improve our world just a little.