(note: If you haven’t read Warren Ellis and Darrick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan, please do so)
I’m sure you’ve all see that one before, but it’s a gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?
I’ve been discussing “Obama’s legacy” with a friend of mine of the last few weeks. Given that the Democrats will likely lose the Senate in a big way and the Affordable Care Act will be gutted like trout, it’s no easy thing to figure out exactly what he’ll be remembered for other than “the first black President.”
The best I’ve come up with is this: Obama’s legacy is teaching a generation of enthusiastic young people that voting doesn’t work.
Here’s my thinking: Obama campaigned as a reformer who would reverse the course of the George W. Bush. This was a very popular position and he was swept into office in no small part by enthusiastic, idealistic young people who craved a leader who would “make a difference.” This was a successful marketing strategy for candidate Obama, but it came with risks.
President Obama shed his campaign skin almost immediately and navigated his two terms as a calculating centrist. He steered the ship of state on almost exactly the same course as his predecessor which, again, was worked well for the President as he won re-election without much difficulty.
But, what works for Obama was a disaster for the American left. By running as far to the left as he did, by promising change, and by, frankly, being Obama, whatever position he took was regarded as the de facto far-left position. The fact that he actually espoused center-right policies just meant anyone who was to the left of Obama was labelled a “kook” and the political center moved even further to the right.
Even worse, by energizing voters with promises of change and then resolutely defending the status quo, he left in his wake a generation of disillusioned voters who now see no real difference between the two parties and can’t be counted on to bother voting when the result is going to be the same regardless. This is Obama’s legacy, in my none-too-humble opinion: Voting doesn’t matter. It’s a good lesson, I guess, but it’s a harsh way to teach it.