Well, four years have passed since The One was ushered into office with much fanfare, filling Young America, Black America, Brown America, Professorship America, and Journalist America with aspirations of change and a new world order centered around policies making outcomes fair for all. Now, in 2012, those dreams, which were before so vivid that they seemed to come alive, have now faded to the background of history.
We were in a financial crisis, and something needed to be done. Obama, armed with a liberal House of Representatives and a filibuster-proof Senate, proposed his now infamous "tax cut on 95% of Americans." The dirty-little secret at the time was that 40% of Americans pay no income tax at all. In essence, a new welfare program was created, a welfare program not targeted to people in need, but simply people who by their mere existence became entitled to thousands of dollars under the guise of a "tax cut." Wildly popular in the African American community, and among burger-flipping college students, these tax cuts temporarily stimulated the economy. However, unintended consequences abounded.
What Obama apparently didn’t realize is that if the economy is flooded with free cash, the price of goods rises. This creates inflationary pressures that causes the "free money" in the pocket of the putative tax payer to simply fly away.
Compounding this problem was the new "corporate patriot tax." This plan, sponsored by Maxine Waters in the House, called on corporations to pay a flat 25% tax on all earnings. Shockingly, stock prices plunged on the passage of the tax hike, jobs went overseas, and prices increased further. After all, corporations exist because they have customers, and in a corporation’s eyes, customers exist to pay the corporation’s bills, tax bills included. And so inflation continued, bullied by both "free money" and the patriot tax.
Two quarters of negative GDP growth of less than one percent, quickly turned into six consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth ranging from 1.8% to 3.5%. Obama and Congress blamed "the failed policies of George Bush," and begged us to be thankful that they were in charge now. "After all," they said, "if McCain had won you’d have all this inflation without that extra money in your pocket, and corporate greed would still rule the day."
Unemployment in November of 2008 was around 6%. It climbed to 9% at the beginning of 2010, and most analysts believe it would have broken 10% had the GOP not swept into Congress that year.
One of the most promising aspects of Obama’s hope was green energy, which turned out to be his Moby Dick. 2009 saw the passage of the now infamous "cap-and-trade" system of carbon credits. Businesses were allotted by The One a certain amount of carbon emissions. To the chagrin of Conservatives, Obama described his plan as "nondiscriminatory," and said that "there would be no affirmative action for coal plants and carbon-based businesses." Energy companies were forced to purchase additional credits from wind companies, and businesses that used little or no carbon emissions. This made T. Boone Pickens a near-trillionaire and was initially lauded by all organizations with even a hint of green.
Apparently, nobody realized that half of our electricity comes from coal, and most of the rest from natural gas. Electricity prices soared, causing Americans to bear the heat in the summer and suffer cold in the winter. Obama would seek to save the day, however, and remedy the crisis—not by repealing the draconian cap and trade system, but by granting tax credits to those over 65 and all families making under $60,000 per year so that they could pay their utility bills. In spite of the best of intentions, voiced by the personification of Hope, no great technological advancements were made in terms of energy production. Wind-generated electricity still cannot be stored, and Martha’s Vineyard still refuses to permit unsightly windmills in their precious harbor. Again, the Luddite policies of the Bush Administration were blamed. Millions, especially in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, became unemployed, almost overnight, because demand for coal dried up so quickly in the wake cap and trade.
One promise not kept by Obama was for a prompt exit from Iraq. Citing "the generals on the ground," and "the need for stability in the region," Obama demurred from lofty campaign promises assuring a quick timetable for withdrawal from Babylon. Instead, we were told that "due to the failed strategies employed by the Bush Administration, against [Obama’s] advice," America was required to keep her troops and treasure in the desert for a while longer. Billions more were spent, and billions more were borrowed.
There were some legislative successes, however. Obama signed into law the new "fairness doctrine," which left only Rush Limbaugh as the lone conservative voice on nationally-syndicated talk radio. The "Children Safety Act," passed in March of 2009, ensured that all firearms sold from now on will be limited to two rounds of ammunition and must either be unassembled or have a child-safety lock on it at all times when not in use. As one writer quipped that Obama’s gun-control policy had two parts, "Part One: Obama asserts that the right to bear arms is a right guaranteed by our Constitution, subject to reasonable regulation. Part Two: all regulation is reasonable." (I read that in National Review, but can’t recall the author.) The "Freedom to Vote Act" was also passed in the first 100 days of Obama’s administration, which gave felons the right to vote in federal elections so long as they are either on parole or through with their prison sentence.
Nothing has overshadowed the tenure of Obama more, however, than the revelation of his affair with a white Congressional aide. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton quickly rose to his defense, smothering the airwaves with claims that if the paramour had been black, nobody would care, and that the only reason Obama was in hot water was because the affair was with a white woman. Privately, however, both men were caught on tape expressing their disgust with Obama’s betrayal. America was told by the talking-heads that the affair should be ignored, and averred with Jackson and Sharpton that the only reasons we cared was out of prurient voyeurism and latent racism.
After a hard-fought nomination process, Obama held off a challenge by Hillary Clinton to serve once again as his party’s nominee. In the primary, Obama won minorities by a rate of 87% to 13%. Hillary won whites 75% to 25%. Due to the demographics of the Democratic base, Obama won in the end, though the Democratic aversion to winner-take-all primaries caused the nomination process to once again last well into the summer.
The Republicans have tapped another boring white guy, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, to be their nominee. Two days before the election, he’s polling at 53 percent to Obama’s 44.