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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Obama Era Is Over...?

Howard Fineman, a prominent journalist and commentator on MSNBC,  in his appearance on that outlet on Election Night, announced quite emphatically that "the Obama era is over". While not as emphatically and as enthusiastically negative as his Fox News counterparts, he seemed to sum up the implications of the apparent drubbing that Democrats took in this mid-term election... at least as far as we could reasonably expect from a sensationalist-headline-driven mainstream media. In fact, nothing remarkably groundbreaking happened in this election cycle. The results are historically consistent for the most part with the experience of most Presidencies in their sixth year.  Every two-term President, going back to Ronald Reagan and beyond, has seen the kind of ego-correcting/agenda-resetting backlash that is a consequence of the kind of political process we have. This is even more so the case when only a third of the electorate participates, as was the case in this Election.

Barack Obama has much to hold his head high about. The economy has seen consistent growth that has lifted it out of the worst Recession in modern history. Unemployment is back below pre-recession levels. More Americans have health insurance than ever before in our history as a direct result of the ACA. We now have the lowest increase in Healthcare costs in 50 years. The cost of borrowing for a college education has gone down. According to the CBO, the Deficit as a percentage of GDP has gone from 10.1% in 2009 to 3% in 2014. Much needed Immigration Reform is currently on the front burner in Congress' kitchen. It is an issue which will not, and must not be ignored. It is remarkable to note that even in States where the electorate chose Republicans, they also overwhelmingly opted for an increase in the Minimum Wage, an item that Republicans have fought against. Barack Obama was not on the ballot, but this issue that is a major focus of his was... And it was overwhelmingly approved.

Popular media may, in the interest of its conflict-driven agenda, continue to focus on the cult of personality that serves its corporate ends. But a more meaningful presentation of the issues that our country faces far outweighs the convenient trivialities of a "drama" driven process. Ultimately the times of our lives and the issues we face in these times cannot be measured in terms of the cult of personality that a hero-seeking culture dreams up. The work that must be done to achieve the social progress we need and the proliferation of Justice that will make our world more secure, is work that demands that we all put our shoulders to the wheel. The Media needs to be a substantially more adequate partner in this work. It may opt to assume this role... Or face its own "midterm" in the minds of conscientious people.

The President has noted that there is one thing he is sure of... He is going to be busy working for the American people over the next two years. We fully expect that he will be. He is in fact... Still the President of the United States of America.


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