Yes, we did: goodbye to the 43rd, a welcome to the 44th

Alexandra Sánchez (USA & El Salvador, AC 08-10)

 

It’s sinister when trusting your own government is not a choice.

I’m not saying that naïveté is best. I’m only describing that particular weight in a stomach, a tingling strip of aluminum foil at the back of the brain. Over time, that strip wears down. It wears down because you forget what it was like to have a President who was intelligent, who didn’t disgrace his country, who didn’t damn the world, who didn’t cause immediate hatred in others.  Because you forget, what’s it’s like to be under a reasonable ruler. And when you get something even a little better, it becomes a godsend.

 

Bush isn’t personally evil, he’s not racist, at least not that. When I think of evil, I think of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove (the mastermind of the Republican-right wing- Party). I think of unknown people who somehow, just by a thought, a pocket book waiting for them, a cushy existence, a fuck-all for others, and a flick of the pen, did something unforgivable that was forgiven. They sickeningly forged our country’s reputation, infrastructure, dignity, already deteriorating foreign policy, and not to mention complete other countries, into a mess they lovingly wash their hands of.

The man may not be the only agent of a government gone loony, but it’s damn well difficult to tell this to an international community. How do I tell this to an Afghan, and Iraqi, a Palestinian, a North Korean, a Cuban? It’s likely they’ve only seen that blundering cowboy, masking his war and stupidity with lies. How can I say he’s not evil, despite some of his decent streaks?

 

I say the 43rd administration has committed the unforgivable. But it’s been forgiven. How?

 

The evil of those eight years is partly discovered, but the poison is not entirely out of the wound. The people are only starting to wake up. Current U.S. history has forgiven Bush. Textbooks mention dates. But they don’t mention the scandals; they don’t mention the fear imploded in the world;the delicate strains in diplomacy andall else. So we rely on news comedians, and maybe the grassroots, the bloggers, an insecure teenager on YouTube, and others who will find this true history.

 

Old archives, videos, documents, news agency investigations, and more have leaked the Bush administration’s infamies. And sometimes, it’s not even necessary to sift for them. But, will this be remembered? Will all this appear in the future’s newspapers, and textbooks? The fact that current textbooks only state recent history like the priest scandals, isn’t good. Yes, it may take time to record this history, but we’re forgetting. None of the anger, the deaths, and everything else is being noted. None of the feelings. How is that history? Therefore, we have forgiven, or let pass.

 

With the arrival of the new Obama website, the old Bush website has been dilapidated. By all means Barack, provide the country with a fantastic method of communication, transparency, etc… I love it; I have hungered for it. But, without the old Bush website, will we be able to uncover more of his legal lunacies? How can we appropriately note these historic events? How can we fully understand the extent of this warmonger’s people? Until now, we’ve realized their ambition has no limits. They instigated hatred and conflict around the world, and now Bush is back in Texas.

 

If we analyze war criminals, wanted individuals, similar to an ill-famed Serb impersonating a holy man, we call for their trials. I clearly remember thinking that the buffoon and his duck-hunting pal should go on trial.Much of his cabinet should.You’d expect it as a result of all the deaths they’ve caused. But how has that character not even been summoned? How is it that so much cruelty hasn’t been forced upon his responsibility and conscience?

 

 

It was his administration. How can you hate somebody like Bush? So pitiful, so ignorant, correcting him is superfluous. He was a puppet.  Yet, in the eye of the world, he isthe 43rd president of the United States, who parroted lines of idiocy, who allowed torture, and who self- contradicted.At the apex, he nonchalantly retained a confidence capable of driving people to murder missions, capable of rousing even the most apathetic. I don’t blame others for their hatred towards him. It’s inevitable.

 

Now I’ll explain how we, the US people, have mostly gotten used to this evil; why a few of us stood up, and how we eventually lost our focus, drive, sanity and faith.

 

You know those bureaucratic laws, those regulations that don’t make sense? Those are the type of barriers you rage about, and eventually you lose all hope in questioning them. This hope is lost because you know they won’t change.

 

“That’s not true,” you say.  You could think of an idealistic argument, couldn’t you? I think the same way. But right now, I’m trying to analyze the intrinsic mind of a US resident and/or citizen between 2000-2008.

You would cite the words of Margaret Mead, “never doubt that a small group of citizens can change…” a bureaucracy, an administration, any faulty leadership.

Yes, I agree. It’s not so easy though.

 

The mere fact that one nation was astounded at the intelligence between the two Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, says enough. We had been devoid of intelligence at the summit for so long, we had forgotten it existed.Even when a level of infamous cruelty reaches its peak, right under your nose, you can’t argue. Our economy was stripped from us, more than usual, our medical system benefited the rich only, our home mortgages exploded, our sons and daughters sent away with others to an unjust mission, and the list goes on. It pains me to explain how hard these eight years have been. It was impossible to speak out because the country had spiraled so deep; even bad seemed good. Pathetically, we had forgotten what good leadership was. Can you understand this? It’s psychological, habitual.

 A “good” leader is not only one who sustains his country. He or she also cooperates with the world and contributes to it. Take a look at the past eight years, and you’ll feel our pain.

 

We were in a state of apathy, apart from a few strong people. And, thanks to a little book, I can sum it up. “Apathy: diminution of hope, and a paralysis of the solution.” These long eight years will be remembered as a dark chapter, where hope was history, where hope was deficient and apathy was veiling over. Now that we finally have hope, we are not bound by the frustrating, intoxicating, alluring, spell binding apathy, and the solution is not crippled.

 

These, apathy, and shellshock, are the aluminum barriers that progressively break down. But they break slowly, and their traces endure.

 

Then something happens. A nation is lifted.

 

I could say that a lesser known statesman from the South Side of Chicago, an old community organizer, the son of a Kenyan immigrant and a mother from Kansas, the first ever black editor of the Harvard Law Review, a professor of congressional law, the author of several books, a lawyer, a young politician, and so many other abilities reside in this one person.

But I hate these past lines. I hate them because it’s just enumerating his outward facts, everything the news does. And still, when you read them, when you write them, when you remember them, you can’t help but be astounded.

 

It’s more of a feeling.

This is sentimental, and I have no qualms in describing this phenomenon that swept through the country. It was a miracle, and I will use some words pertaining to miracles, Gods, and saviors. I don’t back down from this.

You’ve seen the images on the television. Even though I can scorn the ridiculousness of some overexcited and tongue-tied interviewees, I understand the lights in their eyes. I understand the flocks on the sidewalks, the flag-waving, and the fervor. I personally may not let myself become too emotional, but there is that recognition within me of someone unparalleled. I will now try to describe Barack Obama, using the miracle words, as there aren’t many others. But I hope to do so methodically, and rationally.

 

Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America.

 

How can I explain that a black man has become my President, when there’s so much racism, so much partisanship, so much elitism, and so much ignorance? How can I begin to note that many uncharacteristic regions voted for Obama? How can I tell you that working-class whites voted for him? (Of course there were many who didn’t). How can I express this all to you? How can I make you understand what it means to have a black president? Our country is finally beginning to stand for its supposed ideals. Ideals, that contradicted themselves for hundreds of years. Judging by the response from abroad, I know you understand this.

 

Though race is a major outcome of the election, he has refused to play, “the race card.” Kroft, of the widely viewed 60 minutes news, asked him, “How important is race in defining yourself?”

This is what he answered: “I am rooted in the African-American community. But I’m not defined by it. I am comfortable in my racial identity. But that’s not all I am.”

 

These are wise, incredible words. Enough said. I cannot explain how much this helps the increasingly diverse culture of my country.

 

 

 

Explaining the country’s desperation is one way of explaining this win. We were desperate, and many who formerly believed in Bush no longer capitulated. Even the staunchest believers were dissuaded by the war. I can only hope it was caused by concern for the rest of world, seconded by tax dollars.

 

It may be that desperation led the country to put racism aside and to see that he had the better plan for the nation.They must have realized he was the person indicated. True, Clinton and Obama weren’t much different politics-wise, but they represented two different things: old Washington, and the new generation. This is a new generation unwilling to commit the same mistakes time and time again. It is a new generation, which understands that we cannot have the same two families ruling for more than twenty years. We’ve come a long way away from monarchy.  And we’ve come a long way from the elite rule, and the rule of people so distanced from their “subjects.”

 

The “experience” we’ve had in Cheney and crew has brought us nowhere. Obama stands for the new country, a country that’s not going to be the typical United States. He’s brought understanding of others, and a sense of “humility” and assertiveness to the job. It’s so hard for me to beunbiased. But it’s not hard to summon facts from the primaries, and the whole process. If you did, you would get a clearer picture, you wouldn’t have to take mine.

 

Who never pretended to be a saint? Who installed a voting-network in the country? Who campaigned for Democrats all over the United States? Who marched with US Latinos, when every other senator (besides Ted Kennedy)declined? Who protected the education rights of immigrants? Who campaigned for women’s reproductive health rights?Who didn’t let his personal ideals stand in the way of marital rights for all? Who had the guts to state what he thought, even though it hurt, and even though it wasn’t politically wise? He didn’t do this the Chavez way, in detrimental outbursts. But he did speak his mind.

Who had the erectness of character to not lash out through celebrity ads? Who put the media in its place when they slandered him? And when called a “covert Muslim,” who had the integrity to deny the statement whilst protecting and upholding the honor deserved to the many Muslims of the world? Who was composed? Who wrote his own speeches, and spoke of our true society? Who pinpointed the new hopes in our country? Who had the optimism, yet sufficient tact, foresight, steadiness and ability to win an election and begin to create a new face for our country? Who had the ability to be liberal and sharp, a combination that has never been considered to be the liberals’ suit? Who took up bipartisanship to guide? Who was sure enough to say that a very temporary oil drilling was all right, with strong clauses attached, because otherwise nothing would be solved? Who ran the best campaign the country has ever witnessed? Who has been labeled the “organizer-in-chief?” Who has so cleverly, rhetorically speaking, clarified freedom of association, and demolished crooked arguments?

Who spoke of race so eloquently and so sadly? Who received a rousing applause in the Tiergarten? Who’s begun to give weekly addresses via the radio and YouTube?

 

 

And who has most importantly instilled in us “Somos el Cambio.” We are the change. And, though it may be fluff,  “we are the change we have been waiting for.”

 

 

I’ve tried to explain this before. Rhetorically, he never labeled himself as a savior. Rather, he used himself to obtain the best in the people, and in turn, to invest this ability in the nation. Consequently, we’ve labeled him a savior.

 

 

His word on transparency, and “ordinary Americans’ involvement in the political process,” is being kept. The new White House website publishes all non-emergency legislation online for five days, and allows comments before it is signed into law. This is when it’s up to the people as well. Any complaints should be stifled. Unless of course, it is only a ruse, and the Obama administration somehow becomes corrupt. 

 

 

Likewise, he has not backtracked from his promises. The executive orders are related to extracting the poison from the wound.

 

 

Within the first week, he’s legislated more positive orders than Bush would have done in a month.  This is of course, subjective. But given the state of the country, you could probably calculate it and obtain something close to that assumption.

 

He’ssigned a draftexecutive for the closure of the detention center in Guantánamo Bay.There are pending cases, but the detainees will all have a trial within twelve months; there will also be a transfer or release of detainees. This legal process will be hard to mend. The US government acts as judge, jury and jailer.

It won’t be simple.

 

 

He’s begun a crusade against the downward-spiraling economy, and along with National Security issues, has installed economic briefings every morning. The economy is in a tangle, but he’s begun.

 

He’s determined to engage in the energy rehabilitation process. This is a new US government. The chair of the environmental and energy committee is a scientist, not a lawyer or a businessman.

 

On the first or second day, he contacted President Olmert of Israel, President Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Abbas of Palestine.

Relations with Iran are in the initial stages. This is a miracle. It is a sign that relations between the United States and the Middle East will ameliorate in any possible way. There’s so much hurt still, but we can only hope and wait.

 

Obama has already begun to shift his war plans from Iraq to Afghanistan. He’s met with General Petraeus and others to work towards an end to the increasingly tangled mess of the Iraq war.  These meetings with the National Security people are common. I will not comment on war in Afghanistan, but will only say he plans on focusing any war there.

 

I can understand your following objection. You might say that my fanaticism and his image as a pop-culture icon are impairing my reason.

 

I’m not blind. And I do not let my fanaticism clasp me too strongly. I do not always agree with his views. And depending on presidential reactions to current situations in Israel and Palestine, my loyalty can be annihilated.  As it could be for other reasons.

I’ve supported him, but understand that he may be too center for me. Similarly, I understand that it is a process. For all those left-wing radio shows, it was of no use complaining about Obama during the primaries. He’s as left as we’re going to get at the moment. And, he’s not the better of two evils. Saying this would be ignorant. His pure politics, his person, and leadership capabilities are the solution to these problems.

 

His first term won’t be easy; there may not be that many changes. These first four years are to clean what Bush crapped up. I insist that he getanother four yearsto install his agenda. Of course, we will see how these next years develop. Until now, another term seems in order.

 

Unfortunately, I was dragged away from seeing my President get inaugurated. I saw my vice-president sworn in, but I did not hear my President’s address, or his swearing in. The reason for my reluctant absence was a TOK lecture, and I have not found an appropriate time to go on YouTube.

Still, I read his speech, and remember the following days. I remember somebody telling me that they didn’t understand all the hype; that they didn’t think Obama deserved the attention he’s obtained. And to this, I rebut.

 

Tell me, next time you don’t understand why the world’s in an uproar, when it’s been suffering as well.

Convince me why you don’t believe he deserves the warm reception he’s gotten. Indulgence in a bright beginning should not be dismissed.

Stand in front of me and tell me why you don’t believe the world should be at its feet. Just don’t expect me to explicate these feelings, and all these changes.

 

When your country’s been the brunt of everything, when your country’s been the cause of so much disaster, when you carry so much shame, when you know the situation’s so bad, when your rights are being exploited, when there are people dying every day by soldiers who should be home, when there are people being tortured, when your country is suffering… then you’ll understand our feeling.

 

It’s as if a dictator, or even worse, a democratically elected president is deceivingly and legally leading his/her country astray, and is suddenly ousted. And he/she is ousted by someone not tolerably better, but one of the best. Do you dare tell the people not to celebrate so loudly? Would you even dare think it?

If you did, my patriotism would finally be unleashed. If you did, my intellectual criticism and sense would diminish, and all politeness and tolerance towards you would vanish. I don’t care, and I stand firm.

 

This has been a miracle, and every day, my depression is deeper at not being able to be in my country to witness this change firsthand. I stand in solidarity with my people from afar, but it hurts me. I miss my country, but I no longer have that weight in my stomach from worrying about the economy’s standstill, or war in other lands. I don’t have to worry about my three sisters, my parents, and the fate of our world. I’ve lived with this for the past 8-9 years, and I’m dead tired.

 

Change is hard to come by. Obama may not be able to find solutions for everything, but the hope that fueled the primaries should still endure. Up to now, our new leader has given us every indication that it should. It should, not because of incompetence on his part, but because he’s demonstrated his competence. And because we can hope that with him, the ragged ends will slowly be hemmed.

 

It has been a miracle.

 

Yes, we did.  (English)

Sí, se pudo.   (Spanish)

Hai, Yarimashita. (Japanese)

Hannhamnakiya.  (Urdu)

 

(Say it in your mother tongue)

 

This is the whole world’s victory.

 

– United World College Student Magazine –

3 thoughts on “Yes, we did: goodbye to the 43rd, a welcome to the 44th

  1. Love him or hate him, President Bush recovered after failing us on 9-11. We never investigated why he failed and why 20 Jihidiots were able to hurt the strongest military power in our lifetime. That’s a matter for historians to uncover now because 43 is gone. Don’t kick him now. As for 44, he has not gotten off to a tremendous start. Rush Limbaugh is standing in Obama’s Tiennaman Square. Obama is driving a tank and Rush is screaming obscenities as the world watches in horror. President Obama is driving and is he going in the right or wrong direction? You decide? If you see that President Bush and President Obama both tried to take 2 trillion dollars and give it to banks with no accountability, then nothing changed. If you see the banks as “Domestic Terrorists”, then you see the truth. Our banks refuse to lend money causing our economy to stumble. Do we give into the demands of terrorists or do we stand in Tiennamen Square with Rush? The bailout will not work because “How much is enough.” Obama is offering Bush’s Trickle Down Voodoo Economics to distribute our money. We know trickle down doesn’t work. We also know we must never negotiate with terrorists foreign or domestic. Obama is screaming, “Yes, We Can.” He’s wrong.

  2. It sounds like Cecil lacks some information on how our major economic infrastructure works. Sure Obama could let the banks go bust, but then so would the whole world. I think you fail to understand the catastrophe that has been diverted as a result of quick action by the US Congress. Was it an easy decision? No! Do we like spending our tax dollars on banks? No! But do we want the world to spin into a financial meltdown? Definitely not! I think you need to think about that before ranting on the decision to bail out the banks. There is a world of difference between Bush and Obama. A difference in IQ for starters!

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