He was billed at the Great Healer. As The One who would unite a divided nation. He was to be our Transformational President descending from the heavens to bring peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
Two years later, we gaze out across thy fruited plain with a tear in our eye and a hole in our heart. Our hopes of a unified nation and peace on earth have given way to the cold reality of division and turmoil not seen since the ugliness of the Vietnam era.
The Great Medicine Man has yet to grasp the concept that he is President of all the people – not just those who gather at his feet proclaiming their abiding adoration to chants of Praise Be the One. We’ve watched him mock and ridicule millions of his fellow countrymen as “people waving around tea bags” because they dare to challenge his Almighty wisdom and self-appointed power in his quest to turn Americans into servants of His Majesty’s Kingdom.
We turn our eyes toward Washington and see ugly, bitter partisan politics ricocheting through the hallowed halls of Congress on a scale not seen in many of our lifetimes. Solving our nation’s problems has given way to the politics of blame. It’s no longer about solving our nation’s debt crisis or caring for the elderly – it’s about manipulating the debate in such a way so as to destroy and discredit the other party in the eyes of the electorate. Demonizing and vilifying the opposition is the new order of the day. The sharpening claws and the showing of fangs have replaced debating skills and the power of persuasion to achieve a political end.
The Great Healer has used his powerful megaphone to cast his political opposition as evil, un-American obstructionists standing in the way of implementing an agenda that most Americans don’t want. We have watched him depart his Throne to lead his partisan troops into “hand-to-hand combat” deep in the trenches of political warfare being waged in the chambers of Congress. Under The Great Peacemaker’s leadership, nasty political rhetoric has risen to new highs. He has weilded his power and the world’s biggest megaphone to command his opposition party to “sit in the back” – while forgetting those shunned back-seaters represent the voice of many millions of his fellow Americans.
Victory goes to the party that can scream the loudest, cut the deepest wounds, and convince the most Americans that the other side is out to destroy them. Statesmanship is dead.
We watched with horror and disgust the sleazy, repulsive manner in which healthcare legislation made its way through the shadowy darkness of back rooms beneath the dome that once symbolized a gathering of statesmen serving the common good of the people. Obamacare has become more divisive than wars. It has divided the citizens, the media, the pundits, and the politicians. And it has driven the wedge deeper between American businesses and a Government out to make free markets a distant memory.
President HopeyChange has turned working Americans against the very corporations who provide them jobs and sign their paychecks. Corporations and their executives are now viewed as greedy, evil monsters out to gain power and wealth on the backs of the poor. Corporate profits have become a dirty word and executive bonuses have made it to America’s Top Ten Most-Hated List thanks to the enduring unification efforts of the Great Uniter.
Everywhere we turn these days, we see the Feds suing states, states suing Feds, and courts jammed with lawsuits and counter-suits fighting over the spirit and letter of the Constitution. Even the term “secession” has crept into the national dialogue in some quarters of political conversation. What a sad testament it is to a country that once claimed the proud title of the United States of America.
We watched in shock and disbelief when the Transformational President waded neck-deep into a local controversy involving a black professor and the Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Department without – by his own admission – any knowledge of the facts. Abandoning the tradition and nobleness of presidential neutrality in such matters, The Great Uniter proceeded to portray the cops as “stupid racists” for having the unmitigated audacity of doing their duty to protect the property of their city’s citizens. That display of peace on earth and goodwill toward men came dangerously close to triggering a verbal race riot on a national scale and likely set race relations in this country back ten years.
The division that is sweeping across our country has never been more in-your-face or more evident than what is taking place now in a bitter clash between workers’ rights and states’ rights to balance their budget. Americans have been pitted against Americans, taxpayers against unions, unions against Government, and Government against them all. And instead of stepping in as a neutral peacemaker to bring calm and civility to the dispute, The One has again thrown presidential neutrality and tradition to the wind and has chosen sides in a state-level dispute by throwing the weight of the most powerful office in the world on the side of his campaign contributors. He is quick to lecture state Governors and warn them to not “denigrate or vilify” public service employees – but gives a free pass to legislators deserting their posts to avoid losing a vote. It’s a sleazy, reprehensible tactical maneuver designed to put a bullet through the very heart of democracy, but not worthy of The One’s condemnation. Republicans are obstructionists. Fleebaggers are heroes.
After eight long years of being told “dissent is the highest form of patriotism”, the new mantra emanating from the very office once occupied by Thomas Jefferson is “punish our enemies.” John Kennedy would be proud.
There was a TV commercial several years ago featuring an old, Native American Indian gazing out over his once-proud and pristine land – now littered with trash and waste that modern civilization brought to his beautiful hunting grounds. The poignancy and sadness of that moment was brilliantly captured with a close up of a lone teardrop trickling down the Indian’s wrinkled cheek. If Thomas Jefferson could somehow be magically transported from the past into today to look out over the country he loved so dearly, one has to wonder how many tears of sadness we’d see streaming down his cheeks.
It was President Thomas Jefferson who once proclaimed “United we stand” – a long-enduring National motto that has guided us to victory through many wars and which has brought a nation together in troubled times of crisis and turmoil.
And it is President Barack Obama who will prove the genius within Jefferson and who will prove his corollary to that great American rallying call to be just as true and just as prophetic:
“Divided we fall.”