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Not Everything Is What It Seems: Obama, Romney and the Political Process

Not Everything Is What It Seems: Obama, Romney and the Political Process

By Y. (9/7/12)

President Obama officially accepted the Democratic nomination for a second term last night. He stated that the mess he inherited would take more than four years to clean up. There was also a big emphasis on military families, something that the Republican Party failed to mention. Overall the Democratic National Convention touched a lot of people. Many families are going through rough times, and Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were all able to capture their audience because their speeches were relatable. What they said and whether it’s true or not, is not what people automatically think when they hear their speech. When people have lost all hope and their struggle has become a lifestyle, hearing a speech like the ones given by Michelle, Clinton and Obama brings hope to people. President Barack Obama brings comfort when he states “But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future.”

People want to be told that there is a fix to the problems. Whether this is true or not, is not the point from the standpoint of the Democratic and Republican Parties: the promise of a better tomorrow is what the political parties hope is enough to anesthetize the people and get them to stay within the confines of electoral politics.

Let’s take a deeper look. President Barack Obama states, “I’m asking you to choose that future.”

Are we really choosing by participating in the electoral process?

Dennis Loo argues that there are two key problems with classical democratic theory. First is the assumption that “Political leaders and the mass media are the people’s servants; leaders and the media mirror what the people want.” Second is that “political leaders are bound by the strictures of citizens’ votes, while mass media - society’s key opinion-makers – are guided and constrained by their audience.” Both of these assumptions in democratic theory are incorrect. We are not in a financial crisis, or in multiple wars, because that is what the people asked for, wanted, and voted for. Though the speeches were inspirational, voting will not get us to a “ better place” because at the end of the day, politicians will execute what’s strategically good for their political party and for the wealthy class that they serve. These parties and the mass media set the parameters of what is considered legitimate discourse and they frame those issues in a way that rules off the table any approach that would really resolve these intense contradictions. It’s like a magician who tries to direct your attention away from what he’s really doing.

Recall that Obama ran the first time on a platform of hope and change. Perhaps the public should have adapted that slogan to read: “We hope that he’ll bring change.”

Now Obama’s saying, I couldn’t do it within four years, give me four more.

But can we not legitimately ask the question here: if you believed Obama’s hope and change mantra during the first campaign, did you think that he would come to you four years later and tell you in effect that he couldn’t do those things that he promised? Did you think that he’d complain about his predecessors, even while in practice, he has done nothing to hold his predecessors accountable for their crimes and corrupt practices? Did you think that not only would he not do what he promised, that he would, in some really important areas such as civil liberties, foreign policy, and domestic policy, go backwards from what that renegade Bush did?

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