Mr. Obama, President-Elect – you have won, and the people cheer – and in huge neon letters, or so the media would have us understand – the world itself now sees the words ‘Hope’, ‘Change,’ ‘Obama’ all writ large onto some bright fantastical chimera.
My skepticism is founded mainly on your foreign policies, which, unfortunately, sound to me almost identical in attitude to the ones that have already cost America so much of its standing in the global community, the whole notion that unilateral actions are acceptable when America (and only America) chooses to act. The idea that America should play world leader, that somehow, America has been forced by virtue of some supposed superiority to police the rest of the world. That the injustices committed to some people are acceptable as long as they are perpetrated by ‘friends’ of America. That America would consider friends those who would perpetrate such injustices and in the process bloody the hands of all the otherwise good people that make up the nation. That America would threaten Iran as it did Iraq, with no legal basis and no proof. That it would blindly think that security is a function of power and not of the cultivation of goodwill and kindness. That the children, in short, will continue to pay in hunger and blood for the needs of wealthy old men.
However, despite my opinions on the matter, the sheer scale of hope for something, anything better than what they’ve already seen, is certainly palpable. That people would extend so much sheer hope that you, Mr. President-Elect, are their savior is, on the one hand, a poor exercise in naivete, and on the other – well, frankly – it’s almost touching.
This raises a possibility –
What if, just what if – I hope – You realize that this is how you won, that this is why you won – that people are so desperate for a real-life superhero in office that they actually turned out, and put a cape on you – draping you in what each one believes to be the authentic American dream. Something, in any case, better than a Bush, better than a…well, Bush.
If such an effect were possible – if even its possibility is plausible – then perhaps it’s a mistake to go around telling all the Obamaphiliacs that they’re wrong. Maybe their optimism should be left to linger in the air – if there’s any chance at all that you will pick up on it. That you would be so awe-struck by the power of that hope you’ve been promising – the intense desperation with which people want it – to actually consider wearing the mantle – to actually consider for a second – like Miracleman did on Olympus – that you have some real influence on the state of the world. That some possibilities could actually be more than mere campaign attitudes. That, if by simply invoking the possibility of hope, so much support could be gained – then how much more support would surely follow if one were to actually provide not only the promise of change but real, actual change. A change of heart. A re-examination of values. A refusal to work the tired treads of things, that in the end, yield only cruel profit. An affirmation of the value of all human life, an actual attempt to understand issues such as occupation before labeling their repercussions as terrorism. An opportunity to work with the world, and for the world, and to understand that words such as ‘unilateral’ – are not words of change, nor are they words of hope. That American politics should stop, financially, militarily, and politically, at American borders. That when you poke your nose in the affairs of other countries, you will take no credit for anything good and all the blame for everything bad – because you are operating illegally, imposing your will by might rather than submitting to the grace of right. That America’s opposition to the International Criminal Court is both disgraceful and shameful, that the very existence of a Security Council within the body of the United Nations is, in the final analysis, an absence of democracy, and that the absence of democracy is in effect, a brutality.
These are all dangerous prospects for a man in your position, and I’m sure I do not understand half the complications involved. However, when reluctant, or hesitant, or not quite sure what to do or how to do it – I suggest you remember Nietzsche’s doctrine of Eternal Recurrence – that these things you do will be here forever. That nothing ever ends, and that all moments must be moments that you would be proud to live again. That you do not visit upon yourself a moment that you would not choose to have again. That you do not yield to the demands of now.
I truly hope this message reaches you, and I truly hope you consider the sentiments behind it.
We need a better world. Badly.