The Enthusiasm Gap or He’s Just a President
Disillusionment implies at some point you wereillusioned. You believed something that turned out not to be true.
I watched a documentary where young people in the early ‘90s thought their music was “alternative,” and then they were disillusioned when grunge became mainstream. “It’s like…what can you believe in anymore, man.”
The point is: disillusionment means you’ve had a fall from grace…but it was mostly your fault for believing a falsehood in the first place.
Case in point: the lag in support for President Barack Obama. I’m not talking about those who could see a John McCain presidency from their house and think serious people could describe anyone or anything as “Kenyan Nazi.” I’m talking about the hordes of folks who believed in hope, empathy and America’s turning a corner. The ones who in November 2008, turned out en masse to give the Senator from Illinois a landslide victory.
Some Americans voted for an ambiguous “change” and now see some imprecise things are “the same.” These Americans are now suffering from what beltway people call the “enthusiasm gap,” and what everyone else calls being disillusioned with Obama.
“He’s just not lived up to my expectations.”
This all started with the Purple Ticket holders at the Inauguration. Obama supporters and volunteers were given either purple or blue tickets to watch the ceremony just behind the honored and seated guests in the silver section. The Purple Ticket holders were (you guessed it) on the left of the Capitol, and security was tight for this unprecedented event. Over two million people packed into the mall that day to see the new president sworn in. If they were Republicans it would have been counted as 20 million. Regardless of what ticket you had everyone stood in the frigid air for several hours waiting to get in, but there was a snafu at the Purple gate. Some with Purple Tickets were stuck in the Third Street Tunnel unable to get to the Capitol. It was estimated 5000 Purple Ticket holders (if they were Republicans it would have been 50,000) didn’t get to witness the ceremony at all.
During the following week on blogs and Twitter Purple Ticket holders kvetched about their plights. “Obama, you owe us!” The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein, even floated the idea of giving souvenir packets to pouting Purple Ticket holders.
So the “everything didn’t go perfectly and now the president owes us” theme was born. Because Obama is just that good of an orator, he created the illusion that he really is your buddy. Not something you’d ever accuse Bush of being, something Bill Clinton had to a certain degree. “Obama’s cool, he’ll fix this Purple Ticket mess.” As if the moment after Obama took his semi-botched oath, every tiny annoyance should be eradicated for those who voted for him, or they would be – unhappy. Disillusioned.
Obama is just a president. A leader of a (still) rich and (still kind of) powerful country. Politics is tedious, grinding, petty and – unless you’re completely twisted beyond all reason (like myself) – kind of boring. Presidents don’t cure all ills and make everyone get along – no one does that. Ever.
The fact is: Obama is a good president. He’s a centrist who is somewhere between what mouth-foamers on either extreme say about him. He does listen to all viewpoints, which makes people of some viewpoints – ironically – dislike him. He’s not the villain the insane Right says he is, nor is he the do-nothing turncoat the insane Left says he is.
Pulitzer-winning fact-check site PolitiFact.com has diligently kept track of what this president has done and not done. By their count Obama has currently kept 121 promises. He’s compromised on 39 and broken 22. Currently, 81 are stalled, and 240 are in the works. According to their calculations he’s kept way over five times more promises than he’s broken.
We aren’t on track to go back to the Moon by 2020, but he did fully fund the Veteran’s Administration as promised. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell wasn’t repealed two years ago, but the deficit is down 8% from last year. There’s still a 9.6% unemployment rate, but the economy is creating (as opposed to losing) private sector jobs.
Most importantly, America voted for and got a president – not a mythological character.
"When crazy people call you crazy, you know you're sane.
When evil people call you evil, you know that you are a good person.
When lairs call you a liar, you know that you are truthful.
Know who you are and don't let others tell you who you are." - Dave Kitchen