I am often baffled by the level of willingness that many Americans have to find excuses for the actions of the U.S. government. There should be little confusion about the fact that although this country has democratic systems in place, there exists a situation in which many people feel like their voices aren't represented by those who have been elected. We are close to entering the fourth year of Obama's presidency and there has been plenty of disappointment with what he has accomplished, or more appropriately, what he hasn't accomplished.
Back when Bush was still president and the 2008 election was in full swing, Obama was able to take away the Democrat party's nomination from Hillary Clinton's seemingly probable role. This was possible due to the positions each had taken in regards to the war Bush decided to start in Iraq. Hillary Clinton attempted to pretend that her vote to give Bush the power to wage war without Congress giving him the the authority to do so, was done believing that war wasn't necessarily going to be pursued. She supported the war, regardless what she tried to say during the campaign. Obama put himself on the side of the people's sentiment against the war. He was immune to having to defend himself as Hillary tried since it was a vote he never had to cast. It was an easy position for him to take and it impressed more voters. Obama cruised to victory at a time when most people would have chosen almost anyone who seemed to offer a break from the ignorant policies of the Bush administration.
The new president came in appearing as a man who would finally do the people's business instead of working on behalf of the powers that had already become one with both political parties. His bold beginning was to order the closing down of the black hole like torture chamber in occupied Guantanamo Cuba. But hindsight is 20/20. The prison remains, as does the occupation of that part of Cuba.
He then decided to seem like he was going to go farther than anyone else had and create a health care system that was dedicated to allowing health care to be reached by all Americans. But quickly it became obvious that he had no intentions in eliminating the main obstacle to such a system, the insurance companies. We are told by those like the president that we have to do what is possible and although we know that there is no way to defend the fact that this health care system is one designed for profit and since it is so, people are refused necessary care and those who are covered by insurance are often financially ruined by the prices that are unpayable. We are expected to rationalize what we know is wrong. We are supposed to believe that his health care accomplishment, which gives more business, more profits to the very companies that hold people hostage to policies that would be laughable if they were actually a joke and it wasn't such a despicable arrangement, is a major victory for the people.
"Bush's War" quickly became Obama's war and he decided to hide behind "what the generals think" as if his civilian presidency wasn't actually able to tell the generals what was good for the country. We are supposed to imagine that because he campaigned as if he was against the war, we are somehow waging one in a way that it wouldn't have been waged had John McCain won the election. That actually isn't even the point.
The point is that he was elected because people had come to realize that the war was a mistake and the United States shouldn't be there anyway. As if his decisions weren't insulting our intelligence enough, Obama's administration throughout this year had been trying to find ways for the Iraqi government to allow our troops to remain at war in that country beyond the deadline that Bush had set along with his Iraqi counterparts (if they can be truly considered as such). His administration's efforts were unsuccessful. But apparently leaving Iraq according to Bush's timetable (while leaving the largest mercenary force in existence behind) will undoubtedly be presented to us as Obama fulfilling another campaign promise. (That sentence should end with an exclamation point but I feel a period is more suitable since it is so serious of an insult to the Americans who can't stomach being involved in the war any longer and the Iraqis who will continue to suffer from this situation.)
The "change" that so many people had hoped for in 2008 only materialized in rhetorical terms. Obama's administration has sat by and allowed record numbers of Americans to lose their homes thanks to a Wallstreet scheme which was able to be hatched thanks in large part to laws created, or eliminated, during the previous Democrat hero's administration, Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton, the man who is now coordinating relief for the country of Haiti, stood before the unlucky people of that country and said that he felt bad about the results of some policies that he had supported that had caused more harm than good in Haiti. Bill Clinton mastered the art of showing empathy. Maybe one day he will apologize for how almost two years after the earthquake, Jimmy Carter plans on reporting to the U.S. that the only rebuilding he has seen during his visit to Haiti is the rebuilding of mansions for the rich. I guess if we are to follow the line of thought of a certain Christian evangelist we can imagine that this misfortune has something to do with a punishment for voodoo practices.
With protests springing up all over the country, it should be obvious that change hasn't come with the election of Obama. The big shots on Wallstreet have become richer than ever and new poverty statistics show that there exists more poverty than we were previously led to believe. But there is more freedom, no really there is, more freedom of money to influence our politics. Surely that should make up for all of the freedoms that have been twisted and abused during the past decade or so! "Only in America" as Don King, the boxing promoter, or puppet master, likes to say with a smile. Yes, only in America is the incumbent president's goal of raising a billion dollars for a campaign viewed as an admirable record to be proud of.
We can feel good about showing off to the world what our freedom to protest looks like. We see thousands of arrests and veterans being shot at with projectiles as less than embarrassing. We like to talk a good game when we pick and choose which country to lecture about human rights, but I know we are talking to ourselves. When we interfere in the internal affairs of a country in Latin America while claiming that Chavez is doing so without any evidence, we do so because we tell ourselves that we are better, more just.
The people of this country are beginning to realize that the promise of change will not come simply by voting for the politician who makes the beautiful promises that we feel comfortable hearing. People are tired of the silly gimmicks of political campaigners such as Romney's saying that he will eliminate much of the foreign aid that this country pays for. That quite simply wouldn't be likely to happen. Most of what we hear as being foreign aid goes eventually to aiding U.S. corporations operating in foreign countries. The "economic hit man" John Perkins clearly explained the situation of Indonesia. U.S. investment in that country went to build everything necessary for the oil companies to conduct business. The oil has been extracted, billions of dollars were made for the investors, and a few powerful Indonesians became rich too. The vast majority of Indonesians have gained virtually nothing from the natural resources of their country. They have been subjected to Washington backed strong men for decades with no way out. Strong men, dictators, anything we'd like to call them, it doesn't matter. They all are working more for their personal fortunes at their people's expense. It is all just fine with the U.S. since those strong men work in the interests of capital.
The lofty claims about human rights that the U.S. presidents and others officials in the government ring hollow. The U.S. power only finds problems with leaders of countries willing to buck the trend of U.S. dominance. The most clear example is the country of Cuba. Having fought for its independence from Spain, it ended up having to live with a constitution written while under U.S. occupation. After the former colonizer was cut out of the equation, the mighty power to its north took the place of master on the island, retaining the right to intervene militarily when it felt that its interests were threatened.
So it was like this until 1959 when Fidel Castro's revolutionaries with the support of the people took control of the island's destiny. In one of his first visits to the United States, Fidel made it clear that the independent nation of Cuba wasn't looking for handouts from the U.S., only respect. At the same time our government realized that this wasn't an ordinary power grab, but a move to actual independence. From almost the first day and ever since, Washington has tried almost every trick under the sun to erase this independently minded government that has become an example of a country that resists imperialism.
There is no doubt that the lives of the Cuban people have been made more difficult due to the punishment handed out in the form of the embargo, a punishment for choosing independence. But there is no doubt that in many areas thanks to their independence, their lives are better than in most underdeveloped countries that have opted for the path of being a client state. Decades of dictatorships imposed on Latin America by Washington has led to societies that suffer from violence, hunger, homelessness, and exploitation of natural resources by American corporations. Death squads trained by American military specialists have left thousands dead. Attempts at democracy were crushed time and time again by assassinations. kidnappings, and bribery. The people of Latin America over the past few short years have been electing governments which are trying to break the chains that have held back the dreams of the continent for centuries. Never has there been more unity in Latin America than there is at this moment in history. The countries are forming new alliances to develop themselves in ways that will ultimately help their forgotten majorities live better lives.
All of this to me is quite inspiring. Much is made of what we refer to as the "Arab Spring" here in the U.S. But this rejection of puppet dictators began over a decade ago in Latin America with the election of Hugo Chavez. Now the leaders of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, along with Cuba are working together in harmony. Of course to Washington, this is a disaster. Not all of the leaders are as outspoken as Chavez, who has earned the spot of enemy #1 in our corporate press, but all are implementing programs to help the people who had been left out of the plans of past governments who were happy to follow the orders from the north.
It took a long time for those people to accomplish such a feat. It seems that the American people are showing symptoms of growing tired of governments which work at the service of mighty corporations while making life more difficult for the majority of working people. In cities all across the United States, people are finding ways to at least voice their disappointment with the status quo. We are certainly not bold enough yet to take the chance of voting for a candidate who isn't bought and paid for by the corporations, but if the regular politicians don't find the backbone to go against their wealthy sponsors, eventually a candidate who isn't supposed to win, similar to how Chavez was elected in Venezuela, will be chosen by the people. At that point the country will be able to begin the process of making a society that actually matches the rhetoric that we too often pretend to believe out of convenience.
As much as we like to tell ourselves that we are an example for the world to follow, I think that the world has provided some great examples for us to take note of. It's Shameful that we accept living with the knowledge that we have to choose the lessor of two evils. The people of Latin America have shown us that a better future is possible and the voices that were once drowned out by the powerful can be heard.