I was walking in the street when a rowdy black woman ahead of me turned around and asked me “So, how about Barack Obama?” in an excited tone. I responded “how about Barack Obama.” Which, doesn‘t make much sense as an answer, but if you say it in a long drawn-out way it seems like a legitimate response when you’re just repeating what the person said to you . I noticed what seemed like melancholy in my voice in responding to her, and I wondered if she thought I was a McCain supporter.
Why was I melancholic in my response or something akin to it? I watched the excitement on the news over the historic occasion that signals a time of momentous importance in many different histories. It’s a victory for black America; it is a victory for our American democracy and society as a whole; and it is a victory for me, as I voted for Barack Obama in an adherence to my liberal beliefs and my honest like of a good man and a talented politician. What bothers me about the situation enough to keep me from feeling the euphoria I see in others, particularly the younger Obama supporters?
Perhaps it is the cult of personality that has grown around Obama. There is a strange, undemocratic, apolitical fervor that swelled up around Obama and his campaign. Obama’s sweeping win, his changing of red states to blue state and his ability to get out the vote at an unprecedented level, are all shocking. Many argue that this has been spurred by a reaction to the horrid state of the economy and eight long years of an unresponsive, republican president. While I do believe that Obama’s win has been significantly influenced by Bush’s wide-spread unpopularity, there is a catalyst that is irrational and apolitical; look at Obama’s win compared to Kerry’s loss. Kerry faced an equally unpopular President Bush during a time when Iraq was far more tumultuous than it is now, and the economy was in the full-swing of a recession. Obama faced a moderate republican that rode on the political rhetoric of change and emphasized his bipartisan initiatives. How could have McCain lost in such a decisive way?
Part of the reason is the number of apolitical voters Obama’s uncontrolled cult of personality brought in. In such strife, voters have taken to Obama as a messianic or heroic figure that will redeem the United States in some radical transformation. I refuse to believe that the votes that kept Bush in office for eight long years are now sincere liberal votes. America did not become a politically liberal nation in four years through a steady questioning of domestic and foreign policies; the exit polls show that the number one concern is the economy, not Iraq, not terrorism, and not the social values that had clinched the win for Bush for two elections. The emphasis and concern voters have placed on the economy is rightly due, but the way the people have conceived of it might be truly disastrous.
The economy is a focal point of absolute terror for Americans, and in the throes of such a nightmare, people have been consistently undemocratic, reactionary and un-American in their turn to a political “strongman.” We saw this behavior with the terrorist attacks of 9/11, where Americans focused on their fear of another terrorist attack, allowing for an unparalleled loss of their freedoms in the name of security. For much of the election in 2004, while being bogged down in Iraq, John Kerry was painted as a weak-willed liberal with a phony war record; his liberal policies, ones dead similar to Obama’s, would jeopardize American security at home and abroad -- Kerry significantly lost the popular vote. Americans are still short-term, one-issue voters, and they vote not out of political righteousness and adherence to a rational political doctrine. Their new terror is economic meltdown, and their new hero is Obama, where Osama Bin Laden and Bush are the devil and savor in some now longforgotten fairytale. Americans are willing to make any sacrifice necessary to a strong leader in the childish hope that this leader will resolve all their issues. And I fail to see the goodness in all of this, because it is not a good exercise of our system, rather, it is religiosity breeding a way for fascism.
Luckily, I am reassured for at least these four years. The American public may be a deeply foolish, apolitical, terror-ridden voter, but for once, in a rough eight years, this has worked to the favor of the better party and the better candidate. Obama began his presidency with a speech upon his election that emphasized a democratic resolution to our problems, he put it on us, the people, to commit to creating an America we would like to see. He tempered and brought into the American consciousness once again the lost notion of long-term planning and strategic thinking, rather than, reactionary panic to the economic crisis. The thing about it is, there is the Barack Obama that I admire and appreciate because he is, in truth, all of the things this country needs, but the rabble that is in sheer ecstasy over Barack Obama is a loathsome, undemocratic and fascist element that is entirely to blame for the past eight years of the total desecration of this country; they, the American people, have shamelessly falsified and portrayed Obama as a hero for their idiotic, religious masses. I fear for Obama, and I fear for the end of four years when the American people see their false image of Obama shatter and don’t understand why all of the promises they inscribed on Obama were not immediately given to them upon his election. And where Obama gives his people the chance to be something great and different -- upon his descent from the mountain after four years, he will find a panic-stricken, orgiastic cult worshipping in stupidity and betrayal towards another golden calf.