On Nov. 4, 2008, the people of the United States gave Barack Obama power. We gave Congress power. We regret it.
I am a registered Democrat who vigorously campaigned for President Obama. He sold America on the notion of bipartisanship over policy agendas. Despite campaigning as a Democrat, he breached party lines and won over Americans with a genuine desire to listen, regardless of political affiliation. He championed the idea that everyone had something to bring to the table.
He wrote about the nobility of government and how procedural rules “help define our democracy just as much as elections do...and by respecting that system, we give shape to our values and shared commitment.”
Barack Obama believed in the system. At least, that is what he told America. So, who was the guy in the Oval Office behind closed curtains in secret meetings with Congressional Democrats about healthcare legislation? He chose to avoid the very system so deserving and demanding of respect. He sold out a visionary view of our government for health-care reform that actually had very little reform in it. As soon as the Senate announced the passage of the health-care bill on Dec. 24, 2009, stocks for the very industry responsible for the health-care crisis soared.
Americans can’t grant consent on legislation when they aren’t given access. When the people of the United States are denied transparency in the process of enacting legislation, the voters are denied their fundamental right to object. Obama wrote about laws being “uniform, predictable and transparent ... applying equally to the rulers and the ruled.” There is no transparency when a leader blatantly ignores the procedures of Congress that call for open debate because to do so is to his political advantage. When preferential treatment is given to unions, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance providers behind closed doors there is no sense of fair play. There is no equality when a Nebraskan senator is bribed with promises that benefit his state but is to the detriment of other states. There is only inequality. There is obscurity. There is corruption.
The President, along with Democrats in Congress, disenfranchised millions of Republicans across America with his agenda. While serving in Congress has become more of a career rather than a call to public service, it seems the commander-in-chief is paving that path. Barack Obama once wrote, “The answer I settle on sees our democracy not as a house to be built, but a conversation to be had.” As president of the United States, the only conversation he wants is with those who acquiesce.
In 2008, I wanted change. The change I wanted isn’t the change I am getting.
America is facing a trillion dollar deficit. Our tax dollars have bailed out endless corporations who have flagrantly misused it. We saved the banks, yet they deny us fair lending and take our homes. We sit by and watch million dollar bonuses given away to the very executives that put our economy in peril. We hear about scandals involving AIG, the New York Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America—there are too many to list. We listen helplessly to members of congressional oversight panels who condemn them with their voices but continue to pay them with our money. Unemployment has risen to 10 percent. And now, they want our health-care?
Americans deserve better. Proposals such as bank taxes and punitive legislation are gimmicks. Banks will simply pass that tax on to their customers. While the stock market plummets with announcements involving banking regulations, in the end so will lending. And unemployment goes unmentioned. Constitutional checks and balances are up for grabs when the president promises a “forceful response” to rulings issued by the Supreme Court of the United States on campaign finance restrictions. There are three branches of government, not one. Presently, the executive branch is being ruled by a demigod who wants control of it all.
The direction America is headed with President Obama at the wheel is ominous. We wanted debate, not domination. We wanted transparency, not obscurity. We wanted inspiration, not despotism. We wanted the great conversation in Congress with the constitutional guarantees. But the White House closed the curtains and eliminated the bright lights of camera crews and adversaries, thereby leaving every single voter in the dark. The voters were left behind. Congress was left behind. When the curtains were closed, America was left behind. A leader without any followers is just a guy taking a walk. Obama is walking down a path leading to unprecedented deficits, unbelievable spending, and unreliable consequences.
No more. The voters have sung with voices stentorian in Massachusetts. This is only the beginning. The song being sung across America is about the audacity of the voters. Ignore them at your peril. At the end of the day, those who put you in power have the power. We are the people of the United States and we have had enough. The president can pay for his own walk—a walk that will lead from the White House all the way back to Chicago in 2012. Congress can tremble knowing the “audacity of hope” might indeed be God’s greatest gift to us, but the greatest gift the founders gave us was the right to vote. And in 2010, we are taking our country back. Yes, we can.
Kimberly N. Meyer is a registered Democrat from Louisville, Ky.