Yesterday, President Barack Obama was faced with protesters angry about his failure to keep most of the promises of change that he made during the last election. He asserted that change had taken place, with a clever little play on words.
“The last election was about changing the guard. This election is about guarding the change,” he said.
Word play is loads of fun, but it’s often unintentionally revealing. Consider President Obama’s claim about the change of the 2008 elections: He says it was a change of the guard, but that’s not the change I was hoping for. I wanted a change in what was being guarded.
Before the elections of 2008, the government was guarding dictatorial, unconstitutional powers, a neglect of the problem of climate change, bigotry on the basis of sexual orientation, record breaking military spending, out of control agents of Homeland Security, religious kickbacks through the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, and pervasive corporate influence over government decisions. After the elections of 2008, Barack Obama’s government set about guarding those very same things.
It doesn’t matter to me that the personal identity of the guard has changed. The personality of George W. Bush was an undeniable problem, but I wanted more than the removal of his individual smirking, snickering, face from the White House. I did not want a more competent leader to promote the same agenda. I wanted a change of ideas. Now, the Democrats’ change is getting loose.
The last election was about promising a break with the past. This election is about trying to get past broken promises.