I'm going to get some flak for this one. I know that there are friends out there who disagree with me vociferously, even--dare I say--bitterly on this issue. But when I look around me, when I read the newspaper, when I listen to the news on radio and television, I am frankly scared for the future of this country. There are powerful people out there who have the capacity to destroy it. My new blog is called Vote Obama 2012. If you go there now, please be aware that I have done little more than grab the url and put in a couple of initial entries. The design is pending, the direction unclear. But it will reflect my personal conviction that Barack Obama is the best man for the job for another four-year term.
I'm expecting controversy and disagreement. That is welcome. I'm expecting passion. Fine. What I'm also expecting, with some dread, is the kind of thing I have been finding recently on some liberal/progressive sites: venom. I have to admit that I was astonished, on visiting a site I have admired in the past, to find such poisonous, hate-filled rants fueled, presumably, by disappointment that Obama has not been able to fulfill significant parts of what he promised in his campaign. I share that disappointment on many fronts--most recently his inability to shut down Guantanamo. I would like to have been able to see him dominate the budget debate and force concessions from those wrong-headed Republicans.
I have been criticized, here in The Buddha Diaries, for supporting gradualism at a time when it is not appropriate. I would love nothing better than immediate, radical change. As I have often said, I was brought up a socialist, and I remain a proud socialist. As such, however, I am simply foolish if I fail to recognize that I am in something of a minority in this country. Democracy means allowing the voices of all the people to be heard, and the majority of voices in this country, at the present time, are conservative. A small, but vocal minority are far-right wing conservatives. Those on the right, in my view, both moderate and fanatical, are being manipulated by a still smaller minority with unlimited supplies of money and influence, who are obsessed with the need to acquire more.
This, in my view, is simple realism. Short of a violent revolution, I do not see how radical change is possible in this circumstance. In my view, Obama is right to hew to the middle way--to gradualism, if you wish. I admire his calm, his ability to wait, his willingness to listen. He is the voice of reason and sanity in a class of noisy, petulant children who throw tantrums when they fail to get everything they want, immediately, and get it their way. To judge from what I have been reading recently, that goes for the left as well as the right.
Let's bring about change in the only way possible, in the face of powerful, obstinate opposition: slowly. We are addicted to our comforts, to the swift satisfaction of our own demands and needs. Addicts, as I understand it, have to hit bottom before they can begin to turn things around. How long will that be? I don't know. I thought we had done that with Reagan. With Nixon, for God's sake. Are we hitting bottom now, with our current fanatical crop of right-wing extremists, who believe in a vision of freedom that dismisses the needs of all humanity other than their own? I don't know. We may have further still to go.
I dread that thought. I believe that we elected the right man in Obama in 2008. He is more unflappable than me. He is a realist and a pragmatist, not an ideologue. The vision (rather, these days, I think, the illusion) of the strong leader who can command the ear--and the obedience--of his people is an attractive one. But with a people as fractious as we, today, it is no longer realistic. We build our leaders up with unrealistic expectations, then tear them down when our expectations are not met.
So it has been with Obama. He has made some pretty remarkable achievements, but he has not been able to fulfill all expectations, even his own. I know there will be those who disagree, but I believe he has earned the shot at another four years to work toward the goals for which we elected him. Is anyone out there with me?
Consider this a request for help with the new blog. If you're interested, please write to me.