Barack Hussein Obama chose his hometown of Chicago to make his farewell speech. This is the same place where it all began back in 2008 to become America’s first black president. In 2008 Obama set out a fairy-tale narrative of how change was possible and how the American people, had an opportunity of a lifetime, as the world watched, to be part of history – by electing Obama to power. Obama was elected on a tidal wave of optimism, promising to heal America’s wounds, but in his farewell speech in 2017 a rather sober message was presented with an urgent and fearful warning about the state of American democracy. Much of Obama’s presidency is composed of speeches full of fairy-tale stories of the American founders leaving behind a pot of gold (the USA), which every American citizen of all colours could benefit from if they seized the moment.
Obama’s positions were centrist-Democratic, that promised health care reform and some wealth redistribution (the same programme that mainstream Democrats had stood on for a generation). His rise was meteoric, his story was compelling, his rhetoric was soaring, his base very passionate – and his victory, when it came, so improbable – that the reality was always going to be impossible to live up to. At a televised town hall meeting two years after his election, Obama was confronted by Velma Hart, an African American mother of two, who articulated the disappointments of many. “I’m exhausted,” she told him. “I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.”
By the time Obama was up for his re-election, his prospects looked slim. His campaign second time around was a far cry from the euphoria of the first. The president’s argument boiled down to the following: “Things were terrible when I came to power, are much better than they would have been were I not in power, and will get worse if I am removed from power.” What started as “Yes we can” has changed to “Could be worse”.
Obama inherited two wars from his predecessor and ran a campaign to end US military presence in these. Obama escalated fighting in Afghanistan and the troops are still there, in Iraq the Baghdad central government would have been overrun by ISIS if the US didn’t intervene. When Obama’s record is compared with George W Bush he comes out heads and tail above Bush. Obama deported more people than any president in US history and oversaw a 700% increase in drone strikes in Pakistan (not to mention Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere), resulting in between 1,900 and 3,000 deaths, including more than 100 civilians (and these are conservative estimates). In Syria, he drew a red line in the sand and then claimed he hadn’t, he said he wouldn’t put boots on the ground, and then he did. Obama didn’t bother pursue a single intelligence officer over torture; he didn’t pursue a single finance executive for the economic meltdown in 2008 and he didn’t close Guantánamo Bay.
Donald Trump’s electoral victory is a direct result of Obama’s time in office. The bank bailouts after the 2008 economic crisis and the subsequent wealth inequality and income inequality growth as corporate profits rocketed led to the sentiment Trump was able to tap into. America’s democracy not working for the masses, but a small oligarchy in Wall Street and Washington is what led to Occupy Wall Street movement and so many to become disillusioned with American politics.
What Obama shows us and what his real legacy is that no one man, including the president himself is the US government. As a result what you say is whatever is necessary to get to power, after this you either deflect attention from these once in power or like the Syrian red lines, just deny you ever meant it. In America’s it’s not change, but more of the same and maintaining the status quo that presidents have to manage. This is why we are seeing Trump, trumpet ‘make America great,’ again. Donald Trump will be sworn in as the United States’ 45th president on Jan. 20, replacing the only president in US history to have served two terms at war — an ironic, if unceremonious, distinction for a man who also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Years of treachery will come over people in which liars are believed and the truthful are denied, the deceitful are trusted and the trustworthy are considered traitors, and the al-Ruwaybidah will deliver speeches.” It was said, “Who are the al-Ruwaybidah?” The Prophet said, “Petty men with authority over the common people.”