Written by Michelle M. Wise
The words, "I am not a crook," resonates through the collective conscience as our country squirms at the moment that we as a nation lost our innocence. Until that defining moment in our history, we actually believed that our Presidents and our Presidential Candidates were at the very least, upstanding men regardless of any evidence to the contrary. Then upon our awakening, we watched a burglary scandal unfold and we became painfully aware that politicians sometimes lie and that we must sometimes point an accusing finger in their direction as we recognize the obvious.
A President once said, "read my lips, no new taxes," and then we saw his reelection dreams trampled as Americans clamored to the polls to denounce the falsehood of a campaign promise that he could not keep. Of course some Presidents have made a career out of dancing around the public ring like a boxer with fancy feet, trying at all costs not to disclose the whole truth. Quotes like, "it depends on what is...is," or the ever popular "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," even though the stain on her dress says otherwise. Some Americans immediately went into defense mode and claimed that the President's sex life was not our concern yet never addressed the actual lie or lies that were told to the American people about those things that were none of our business even though they were done during office hours made possible by the American taxpayers.
Perhaps at this point in history, we were used to the ever-present Presidential lie; some believe that at this point in our civilized lifestyle we expect the lie...we anticipate the lie...we may even encourage the lie. Then came the words heard around the world, there are "weapons of mass destruction." As a people we are not really sure what that meant exactly but we knew that it sounded horrible and frightening and required immediate action. Still smarting from the horrors of 9/11 and eager to turn our anger and mistrust into an action, we followed our commander and were soon disheartened that this evil, scary thing was never found. This was just another politician using our own fears to justify an agenda even though in the backs of our minds we must be cognizant that our President does not do his own Intel, which means that someone else made the incorrect claim that was passed onto us. Nonetheless, we hold our President's feet to the fire and never let him forget that he was wrong and therefore not trustworthy in our assessment to the point of name calling and threats of impeachment.
Tired and cynical, we the people reached out to someone that we could put stock in, someone who advocated "change" and used a simple slogan from our beloved childhood storybook to breed a sense of familiarity and a sentiment of achieving the impossible--"Yes, we can!" We absorb the apparent candor and refreshing attitude of this inexperienced Junior Senator and breath him in as if the previous political pollution could only be scrubbed from our lungs by this breath of fresh air. We listen intently as he campaigns on ideals of "no lobbyists, complete transparency" and the grandaddy of them all --"no earmarks." We love that, unlike his predecessor, he can actually speak in public...he can read...pronounce common, everyday words like nuclear and he can be articulate, commanding and clever. We are enamored.
We forgive him as he makes a few missteps like selecting a Vice President that is known for half-truths, gaffes and plagiarism. Perhaps the sheen that he had during the campaign has given way to a soft glow, as we anticipate our future together as a new kind of politics takes hold of the country.
Once he is sworn in, we try desperately to cling to our belief in him as he continues to appoint tax cheats, lobbyists and career politicos into key positions in his administration. As a dark recession takes hold of our country, we watch mystified as our last shred of hope is dashed because we watch horrified as he makes speech after speech claiming that it is only going to get worse before it gets better, yet never taking any kind of action to stop the impending doom.
We are told that the solution to the recession that is inevitably going to be a full blown economic depression is to pass a bill replete with earmarks that will create jobs, but as we watch the unemployment double, we realize it does not work. Then we are told that the only new solution to our joblessness is to pass a bill for Universal Health care. We watch, too stunned to react as the television news continually reminds us that so many have lost their homes and that so many more are out of work. Meanwhile, we watch our President fly off to New York for a night out, to the Grand Canyon and Cape Cod for a vacation. We are helpless as we see him in England with his family, in Europe, meeting the Pope and in Russia seemingly on an endless vacation. He even flies to Denmark to try to woo the Olympics for his cronies in Chicago, as we watch feeling alone and abandoned.
As we collect our unemployment and worry to put food on our tables, we hear him tell us to tighten our belts and then watch him go off to play golf or basketball or to actually go to a basketball game in person.
It took a whole year but we finally realized that we have been duped. We overlooked his lack of experience. We wanted to believe in him. Yet here we sit, watching everything that we have worked a lifetime to achieve slipping through our fingers.
Our homes, our families, our lives dangling on the edge of a precipice and we know that we are to blame because we put our faith in another politician.
As we look back in history at the political scene in this country, we realize that the lie is as old as the profession of politics itself. It is somehow in the nature of the beast, to tell the people what they think they want to hear, always knowing that it would be impossible to actually stand by their word. And as the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
Yet here we are, trying to steer our families lives through the rapids, rocks, whirlpools and maelstroms that our own government has produced and hoping beyond hope that at some point something our President tells us will actually be true.
As we hold our heads in our hands and mumble to our selves, "It's our own fault, we should have known," we realize that our new mantra should always be never believe in the promises of a politician...no matter how different he appears to be.