President Obama launched his re-election campaign last week and now, for the next six months, the nation will be witness to the Republicans’ attempt to derail the most significant change to ever affect the Presidency of the United States. At least from a complexion perspective. Maybe even from an ideological perspective.
Barack Obama is clearly one of the most pragmatic presidents we’ve ever had. His pragmatism, at times, may have been viewed as compromise politics, but he remained true to his commitment to change the system of politics in Washington, while not allowing the system to change him. That has yet to be seen. However, now the President has the daunting job of reinvigorating the mania that got him elected.
Obamamania was the most exciting thing to hit America since Beatlemania. Over 35 million young voters showed up en mass to “vote change,” in a most radical demonstration of populist revolt since the Revolutionary War. Talk about “putting it to their parents?” The generation did, and their political rebellion showed them. Their parents woke up and a black man was President of the United States. America is still in culture shock.
But then, a shocking reality hit the youth and the nation. President Obama faced a different type of obstructionism than Candidate Obama had ever faced. Yeah, the birthers continued their noise, and the racists continued their noise (about Obama being a Muslim), and the partisan media continued their noise (never giving credit to anything he did right and misreporting things that went wrong – many times having nothing to do with him), but partisan politics within the government was intensified and the gridlock was stymieing. Young people didn’t understand that.
When the midterm elections came around, they were nowhere to be found. The mania was gone because Obama wasn’t on the ballot. The Democrats lost the House because pop culture didn’t show up for politics. It showed up for Obama.
Now, the President has the daunting task of convincing those million — and another generation that has since turned 18 years old and will be voting in their first election — that change is working. Heretofore, all the energy has been put on raising money…and that is necessary. He raised $750 million in 2008, and has promised to raise a billion this time – because the Republicans and the Supreme Court have changed all the rules on campaign finance limits. They are trying to raise $2 billion to stop this change train. The fundraisers can’t invigorate the masses. Not in this economy. Only the President can.
The President’s main task is convincing us that he was, in fact, the change that we had been waiting for, and that we were part of that change in his first term. The President must tell more of what he’s done, where it becomes evidence that Candidate Obama went to work for the people once he became President Obama. His “Promises Kept” agenda must be more widely communicated than the begging for dollars (which is getting on nerves).
Ishouldn’t have to pay to hear what my President has done for me, every time I want to see him. They need to work on that. Because young people, in particular, don’t understand that aspect of politics yet. They just want to know if anything has changed. Only the President can answer that for them.
He’d better…if he wants the mania to return. Because, again, the world is watching…
Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.
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