Now that he’s the undisputed nominee for the Democratic Party and is free to just do his normal campaign of “Change,” Obama is becoming more politicized and is playing “the game” he was overly opposed to before. This brings me great sadness as I was starting to truly believe in his cause.
The first shift in my opinion came when Congress passed a compromise of the original FISA bill that was originally rejected in the House earlier this year. After this came to pass, Obama spoke on it and endorsed this act, which gives the phone companies retroactive immunity to the illegal wire-tapping that has happened across this country under the Bush Administration. In doing this, crimes go unpunished, government stays corrupted and reform initiatives are once again stifled.
This in itself isn’t what made me really start to lose faith. Yeah it angered me but the real kicker is the spin he tries to evoke when he adds to his explanation:
“It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance — making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.”
In other words, yeah the bad guys will get away this time, but under me things will get better and I’ll be the good sheriff in town. This is especially frustrating as he acknowledges that, as cited in TPM Election Central, “last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans.”
The most recent action Obama has taken that has ruffled my feathers is his pledge to support Bush’s faith-based initiatives and add an extra $500 million dollars to this program. Let’s first focus on the fact that this vehemently goes against the U.S. Constitutions policies of separation of Church and State. The whole first amendment makes it clear that this is a country of religious tolerance and a freedom to express any point of view; furthermore, it separates religion from government so that it gives equal and fair representation to all without anyone being persecuted for their beliefs or lack thereof.
When Bush started his faith-based initiatives, it was enacted to give an unbalance of representation and governmental power to a select group of people, mainly the evangelical sect of Christian believers in this country. This action has helped the Republican party dominate the government for the past eight years. It is also powerful pandering tool.
Now I understand the political reasoning behind Obama’s motives. He is unfairly being labelled a Muslim in some media outlets, which causes a push-button effect of linking Obama to terrorists. When that isn’t being done Barack Obama is linked to “radical” christian leader Reverend Wright. By endorsing Bush’s faith-based initiatives, he’s trying to curb the conservative Christian vote that isn’t too keen on McCain as their representative. A brilliant political move for sure, but it’s a cynical cold-calculating move that goes against Obama’s campaign of “Change” and not using the “old-style” politics of Washington.
Jennifer Loven, Associated Press Writer, also states that Barack Obama, “proposes allowing religious institutions to hire and fire based on religion only in the non-taxpayer-funded portions of their activities — consistent with current federal, state and local laws.” This again, goes against the First Amendment which prevents these types of discrimination, regardless of what type of loop-holes you try to create for them to take effect.
With these two grievances that I have with Barack Obama, I cannot help but think jaded-thoughts of politics as usual. Political Podcaster Dan Carlin said it best, in one of his recent podcasts, when he explains how the word “change” is a funny word and how it can mean anything. Not only that, but because Barack Obama initially has been very abstract in what his own definition of change is, hopefuls have been projecting their own definitions to his platform and thereby, or partly, bringing the popularity that Obama has received. This is definitely true for me, as I naively thought that he would keep to his pledge to go against old-school politics and bring about real reform. Now we’re stuck once again, at least in my once again jaded opinion, with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumb. And pundits wonder why every election year brings about a smaller voting turnout than American Idol.