The Hope and the Change
September 10, 2012
Four years ago, when candidate Obama walked out among the Greek columns into a Colorado stadium filled with 75,000 people, many Americans were excited about politics. After nearly a decade of wars and years of intense partisanship, Obama seemed to be offering something new. He seemed to be offering Hope.
It was a brand Obama himself did much to create, from his 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention — in which he called on Americans to reject division, asking, “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?” – to his 2008 acceptance speech, which he concluded by declaring that “At this moment, in this election… let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.”
As the new documentary The Hope and the Change by Citizens United reminds us, to Democrats, Independents, and even some Republicans, Obama represented exactly what they needed most as the economy was crumbling around them.
The Hope and the Change introduces us to dozens of these fellow Americans – Democrats and Independents who voted for Obama and the hope he promised. In fact, the movie begins with voter after voter speaking about how they’ve been Democrats their entire life, and how excited they were to vote for Barack Obama for president.
But how do these Obama voters feel about the President today? They’re profoundly disappointed.
The picture that emerges from the words of these Independent voters is of a president who devoted his attention to an increasingly ideological and irresponsible agenda. His plan to fix the economy consisted of bailouts and “stimulus” that did nothing to jumpstart the economy or create jobs, but wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on political payoffs. It wasn’t exactly the change voters were hoping for.
What do they have to say about President Obama’s economic agenda?
“I don’t know where this money’s going, because I don’t see anything happening here – I see quite the opposite,” says one woman who voted for Obama in 2008.
“I have no idea where the money went,” says another.
It’s clear to these voters that wherever the money went, it hasn’t worked. One woman says she “can’t drive through [her] neighborhood without seeing at least four or five foreclosure signs.”
President Obama quickly moved on to ideas even farther afield from what these voters had in mind, proposing cap and trade legislation that would have crippled the fragile economy and forcing a government takeover of health care without a single vote from across the aisle. They weren’t fooled by the President’s distraction.
“When Obama proposed the universal healthcare –government-run health care – we were mired in debt, unemployment was an issue, the bailouts had just happened, so here we were with all these negatives, and the President said you know, ‘Let’s wag the dog, let’s focus on health care.”
“It’s actually a diversion, it’s like a magician,” said one woman. “You look this way, and you sort of don’t see what’s happening the other way. And that’s actually what he’s doing.”
“It’s kind of like lighting a fire on the left side of the room so you don’t see the building collapsing on the right,” said another.
The Americans we hear from in The Hope and the Change can barely recognize the man they voted for. “Yes We Can” has turned into “Why We Couldn’t.” The representative of unity has turned into a divisive left-wing ideologue.
“One of the changes that Barack had talked about in 2008 was to make a more united United States. He’s divided the United States,” a former Obama supporter said.
If you want to see why President Obama is worried this November, watch The Hope and the Change.