Time was, I paid a lot of attention to what Barack Obama said. I waited in line to attend his speeches and transcribed them so everyone could share in the knowledge of his plans. I showed up for meetings his staffers held on environmental issues, eager to disseminate his ideas on water policy for debate and discussion. I wasn’t an Obama fan — you can find videos I produced at the time of the 2008 election explaining why I felt the need to take down my Obama lawn sign — but I wanted to participate in documenting the statements of candidate Obama and his campaign because I believed Obama meant what he said. I believed he was wrong on many fronts but at least sincere.
Then came the Obama presidency.
He said he’d close Guantanamo. Nothing doing.
He said he’d protect endangered species. He delisted them.
He said he’d reform the FISA Amendments Act and the Patriot Act to protect Americans’ civil liberties against unlimited surveillance. He expanded the surveillance state, ignored Americans’ civil liberties, and lied about it.
He said he’d not go rushing off to war, that he’d build coalitions, yadda yadda. He got a Nobel peace prize just for saying that. Now, he’s on the brink of starting a new war without international support.
The emergence of the “yadda yadda” in my reaction to his words says something. After so much soaring oratory followed by so many broken promises, I can’t put too much stock in what Barack Obama says. I don’t trust him. And so, when President Barack Obama rolls out the red carpet and brings out the band and unfurls the flags and takes to the podium and makes a speech, I don’t listen anymore. Why listen, when what President Obama actually does is so disconnected from what he says?
Dissembling by a politician leads to disconnection from a politician. I’m there. I no longer believe in the kind of Change that results from a smooth-talking politician.
Disconnection from a politician does not mean disconnection from politics. Politics is the attempt to answer the question, “What shall we do?,” and I’ll be darned if I’m going to let Barack Obama speak in my name. That’s why when the call goes out for a national protest against the surveillance state, there’s no question in my mind. I’m there.