copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Update . . . A bell rings. The sound reverberates. A sentiment shared aloud resonates within the heart, mind, body, and soul of persons who heard the message. No matter the actions taken afterward, sullen statements are not easily erased from memory.
Days before Congress was asked to pass the stimulus package, the President uttered the now famous phrase; “I won,” Republicans, as could have been expected, expressed resentment. Immediately, subsequent to President Obama’s statement Democrats were said to have followed the Chief Executive’s lead. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked if he thought Republicans might block the initiative. Empathically, he replied; “No.” Today we know differently. In the House, the measure received no support from the Grand Old Party.
As we await approval from the Senate we may wish to consider, the past. Words that evoke division have a lasting effect.
Please peruse a missive penned shortly after President Obama reacted to pressure from the “Right.”
Oh Mister Obama, please tell me it is not so. Days ago, I read and heard numerous reports. You made a declarative statement. Many were shocked. Anecdotally, Congressman and women stated, when pressed by Republicans who disagreed with your position on economic policy, you said, “I won.” Will this mean, once again, Americans will be the losers?
I fear for the future, for I remember when the words were “Yes we can!” Has this assertion become but an old argot, now trivial or trite? Please tell me. Now that you sit solidly in the Oval Office is the achievement of one all that matters? Perchance, with a “change” in climate, we, the Progressives have become the Party of arrogance.
It seems you personally have adopted an individualistic platform. Peace and process talks will be less diplomatic. Discussions will be more reflective of Obama rule or Democratic control. After he left the White House, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina was said to have “echoed” your sentiment. He may not have used your exact words; nevertheless, the sentiment was clear, the Progressive Party will dictate the rule of law. Congressman Clyburn said, “The American people didn’t listen to them [the Republicans] too well during the election.” The implication being, so why should the Progressives who represent them.
My concern extends beyond the language. It is the intent I lament!
I had hoped that sooner than later, the Obama Administration would recognize individualism, as we all saw, did more harm than good. ‘I envisioned “Mavericks no more,” would be the mantra of an Obama Administration.
As a Democrat, devoted to progressive platforms, I imagined peace was a prospect we would no longer ignore. Admittedly, as I say this I cannot help but think of the quagmire that Afghanistan is, and I fear will be worsened
You may recall, President Obama, when we go for the unilateral kill, as we did in Iraq, innocents, foreign born and our own die. The terrain is devastated. The cost cannot be accurately calculated. The price humans pay for victory is incomprehensible, at least it is to me. I inquire; how does one place value on lives, limbs, and a sense of security, serenity, and safety lost. It seems in America, most rarely do the math. We want only to overcome, to be the victor.
Hence, with a note of superiority, supremacy, and self-importance, we say we, he, or “I win.”
I heard the reaction on November 4, 2008. As the election results came in, your constituents chanted “We won!” You too must have felt concern as the crowd cheered. You spoke to such a perspective often. A triumphal tune closes doors and ends discussion. President Obama, these are your words. “Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.”
The electorate, I recognize is new to the novelty of inclusively, but you, Mister President. What of your core beliefs?
President Obama, I could understand such a statement from a Republican, not yet ready, to put aside differences after what seemed to be a defeat. Elections, by their very nature, are divisive. However, even Conservatives for Change concluded this year was different. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell even offered his open hand. I suspect with word of your “win” that will not last.
Oh, Mister President, until I heard word of how you spoke of “your” feat, I truly believed that change had come.
I wonder, with all the work to do, has anyone won? There has been too much despair, too much distress, disparity that is incomprehensible, and all this has existed for far too long.
Please Mister President, travel back, into the future, with me. Do you recall the deregulations and the economic downfall?. In the recent past, as a country, we experienced the dire effects of a Republican victory. It seemed obvious, a conquest breed certain vanity.
Persons within the Grand Old Party are not alone when it comes to excessive pomposity. Hence, my apprehension. In modern times, Americans have seen the ill inflated egos can cause. Democrats, equally haughty, ultimately embraced policies that ended an era of effective oversight. Do the words Glass-Steagall Act remind you of how arrogant, those replete with power might be, Does the taste of the Depression era law President Clinton repealed linger on your lips?
Those who no longer have a legal right to redeem a mortgage might caution against a prizewinning irrational exuberance.
Perhaps you may recall predatory lending. Winners on Wall Street thought this idea fine. Home foreclosures flourished. Bank failures became common. Unemployment rates rose. Workers received less benefits before businesses finally closed the doors.
It was not that long ago. Think back. During the Bush reign the Conservatives were in power. For decades, Republicans won most every Presidential election. On the one occasion when a Democrat occupied the Oval Office and Congress was mostly Progressive, defiant winners were only able to do so much. Soon after, Democratic “control” was easily lost.
Perhaps, the people felt the Administration to full of itself with the win. You may remember President Obama, “The Republican Contract with America.” In the past, a practiced politician or a Political Party may have said they won. However, what really happened was America lost.
President Obama, you spoke of this in your more recent book, The Audacity of Hope.” Remember?
“In the back-and-forth between Clinton and Gingrich, and in the elections of 2000 and 2004, I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the Baby Boom generation – a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago – played out on the national stage. . . .what has been lost in the process, and has yet to be replaced, are those shared assumptions – that quality of trust and fellow feeling – that bring us together as Americans.”
Mister President, you also addressed the issue of the ownership society. You must remember this. You stated what I often say; however, more eloquently.
Barack Obama these are your words. “In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own. Well it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.”
If someone, anyone wins or owns the rights to run the show, we are all doomed. Currently, we witness the woes of a win in our Health Care systems. Medical coverage is a service available only to the privileged. There is income for triumphant Insurers. Pharmaceuticals profits have paralyzed this country. Disparity in healthcare devastates the impoverished, the ill, and the injured, millions of whom have no medical coverage. More Americans are underinsured. Even more are likely to lose what they have as the economy weakens. In this country, cash divides winners and losers.
Mister President, you might understand this. Consider the dollars needed just to get a candidate elected, to have him or her heard. Please also ponder what was once more important to you and the electorate than dough. The community carried the message. Without the strength of unity, we as a country crumble.
The deterioration has already begun. President Obama, do you remember the dream? You must recall; Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Junior taught us to believe in the dream of equality. Reverend King avowed, “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made.” Doctor King did not praise personal wins or commend clannish conquests.
Yet, today, in America, where a President proudly proclaims “I won,” children of all colors, their elders of every hue, are not afforded a chance to succeed. In a country where Progressives posture, “We won,” we do not consider what a coup d’état mentality means to a country, or to the children who inherit a nation torn asunder.
Mister President and Progressives proud of what it means to win, please consider the ominous shadow cast by a Supreme Court decision, Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson, The Court and the prideful parents who championed a cause ensured only the wealthy and the white would receive a quality education. Separate and unequal services are again sanctioned in city schools. The judgment sealed a subterranean deal that has long been in effect. The rich triumph; the poor will not have equal opportunities.
In America, we have seen the destruction wrought by our culture of conquests. Yet, as a nation we continue to ignore what might be obvious.
Perhaps, this is why, as your proclamation filtered through the airwaves, Mister President, many Progressives applauded what was familiar and what they had waited for. Republicans who had come to believe there was reason to hope for true change were struck by the divisive rhetoric. Your disdainful remark was like a slap in the face, a stab in the back, or the statement that would bring resentment back to Washington, Those still bruised by the political battle never forgot that they wanted to be the ones, or at least “That one.”
I recall history and recoil at what could be our future if we affirm as you did days ago. “I won?”
Oh please President Obama, remember your own reflection. “What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This “victory” alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change . . . ”
I beg you to consider, the power of words. Ponder; can we be “victorious,” and will such a triumph leave many behind; or we can we be successful together. Can one “I” prevail or will we, the people achieve when we unite.
Please tell me it is true. Government can be of, by, and for us all, or an Administration, and Americans can be partisan.
Please President Obama, let us not suggest that we, or “I won!” I implore you to reflect or your own words.. “(The change we seek) that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you (the American people).”
President Obama, you did not win. Progressives did not prevail when you were placed in the Oval Office. We the people will not meet the challenges through conquest. Nor will we be the change we can believe in if you, or any of us, declaratively deems, “I won!”
Americans did not vote for the arrogance we heard and saw for eight long years, We had hope. We had a dream. In the White House, in the people’s house, in Congress, and in our local communities, we could become genuinely united, integrated, and inclusive. Yes we can, and I think we must.
References for realities that divide us . . .
- Obama to GOP; ‘I Won By Jonathon Martin and Carol E. Lee. Politico. January 24, 2009
- Obama to GOP: ‘I Won’, By Jonathan Weisman. The Wall Street Journal. January 23, 2009, 2:32 PM
- The Afghan Quagmire, By Bob Herbert. The New York Times. January 6, 2009
- Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Speech at the National Press Club. ABC News. January 23, 2009
- Democrats are darlings of Wall St. Donations to Democratic campaigns prompt concern that the candidates will go soft on regulation of the financial markets. By Janet Hook and Dan Morain. The Los Angeles Times. March 21, 2008 A-1
- G.A.O. Urges Caution on a Glass-Steagall Repeal, By Nathaniel C. Nash. The New York Times. February 11, 1988
- The Republican Contract with America.
- Obama’s Foursquare Politics, With a Dab of Dijon, By Michiko Kakutani. The New York Times. October 17, 2006
- The Fall of America, Inc. Along with some of Wall Street’s most storied firms, a certain vision of capitalism has collapsed. How we restore faith in our brand. By Francis Fukuyama. Newsweek. October 13, 2008
- The Long Demise of Glass-Stegall. Frontline.
- National Healthcare Disparities Report. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. February 2004
- The Audacity of Hope.” By Barack H. Obama.
- End of the ‘Ownership Society,’ By Zachary Karabell. Newsweek. October 20, 2008
- Affirmative Action. The New York Times. June 28, 2006. December 5, 2006
- Iraq: The Human Cost of War. Center for International Studies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Cost of Iraq war could surpass $1 trillion, Estimates vary, but all agree price is far higher than initially expected. MSNBC News. March 17, 2006
- The War in Iraq Costs. National Priorities Project.
- Conservatives for Change. By Betsy L. Angert. BeThink. October 24, 2008
- ‘Where else could this happen?'” By Joyce Pines. Kalamazoo Gazette. November 05, 2008 09:26AM