In 2008, Barack Obama did the impossible. He took on the political establishment and challenged the status quo. He broke through the shackles of American political oppression and defeated the widely held belief in early 2007 that there was not a Democrat in the primaries who would have a chance against establishment figure Hillary Clinton.
What President Obama did was inspire America. He provided us with a dream.
He told us to hope and he told us that we could, should, and will change.
Eight years later we have seen 36 months of sustained economic growth, an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, and a president who day after day has been condemned by Fox News and every current Republican presidential candidate.
And when you ask yourself why so many right wing pundits can take jabs at a president who has safely guided us out of the “Great Recession,” it is hard to find an answer. But the best answer we can give is: it is just politics.
What has characterized the rise of Donald Trump are his incendiary comments.
The forests he set fire to are dry; people in this country are angry. And they should be angry, but it seems that they are angry for the wrong reasons.
The problems in this country are not attributable to Mexicans, Muslims, women, abortion or marijuana.
What has created one of the most divisive political eras in American history has been partisan bickering.
When Hillary Clinton said in the first Democratic debate that the enemy she is most proud of is the Republicans, there is a problem.
It has become Democrats versus Republicans and unlike the Super Bowl there will not be a winner.
Red or Blue, elephant or donkey we are Americans and this rhetoric against minorities and one another is stalling our country and creating a diversion from the real issues.
The anger should not be directed towards innocent people. The anger should be directed to the billionaires who flood millions of dollars into the political system.
The anger should be directed towards the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. In that decision, a pandora’s box that would forever shape American politics was opened.
And yet, it is a lot easier to hate your Mexican neighbor who you are told is taking your job than a faceless Supreme Court decision.
There is almost a sad irony to recent American history.
As a nation founded on the concept of citizens being represented in government, what we have increasingly seen is that the little guy is not being represented.
The big guy, the corporation, the billionaire, they are being represented.
It just makes sense to eliminate the money. Without the piles of money, the PACs, what separates the billionaire and the working class American in the eyes of the government?
Nothing, and that is the only way to achieve a representative democracy: create a situation where the government represents the wants and needs of the population, not just a select few.
When we think back on Obama’s 2008 campaign, he did not just inspire hope or change, he inspired idealism.
He spoke not of what we were but what we should be.
And now that he is in the final year of his presidency, let us not forget his message.
He asked us to be the best Americans we can be.
And I challenge everyone who reads this to be the best Americans they can be.
Know your candidate, know what they stand for, do not follow the hype, and cast a vote for America’s future.