On Wasted Opportunities

The other day, I was talking to Kenny Blogginz, who's busily attending university at the moment instead of amusing us with his many sardonic tales of young adulthood. We were discussing the absurdity that is Donald Trump's allegedly serious campaign for the presidency, and KBlogz mentioned how he's heard many of his friends say (half-seriously) that they'd totally vote for Trump.

And then he said: "The only time I ever hear people my age say they're going to vote for anyone anymore, it's an ironic vote. Everyone's so disillusioned after being so excited about Obama; they don't give a fuck about politics anymore."

It's all well and good for seasoned political junkies and chronically disappointed progressives like me to say, "Well, if you read between the lines, Obama was never a real progressive in the first place," and it's all well and good for Democratic partisans to argue that Obama's doing the best he can given the clusterfucktastrophe he inherited and the political restraints created for liberal-minded leaders by a conservative media, and it's all well and good to say that if McCain had been elected, surely things would be even worse, all of which are the things that get said after any Democratic presidency (or Democratic Congressional majority) inevitably disappoints.

But Obama's campaign was not the generic, familiar stuff of a John Kerry or an Al Gore. His campaign was soaring rhetoric about hope and change and difference.

And then he turned out to be the same old shit, quite certainly even more conservative in his governance than a President Kerry or President Gore would have been.

On the most prominent social justice issues of his time in office—gay rights and abortion—he is craven or altogether silent.

In the greatest recession since the Great Depression, which has left untold numbers of young adults—who were told since birth that if they did well in school and went to college, they'd get a good job and a house and a secure, happy life—living in their parents' home, unable to find a job, and crushed under the weight of enormous student loans. That's if they had a decent enough public school education to make it to and through college at all.

He promised to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Those wars not only continue; he has also escalated the war in Afghanistan, launched a covert war inside the borders of Pakistan, and gone to not-war in Libya.

He has broken campaign promises and alienated his base and pandered to the rightwing and shit on every ounce of progressive good will extended to him and bailed out banks while telling the people they screwed to tighten their belts and pull up their bootstraps—and, on top of everything else, he has failed utterly to be cool. The man who swaggered into office to a Jay-Z soundtrack has governed like someone who doesn't give a fuck about the jobless, debt-ridden nightmare in which young people are starting their adult lives, the soundtrack to which is an ominous wind whistling through cracks in the crumbling infrastructure.

It's no wonder they're cynical. That was some switcheroo he played on them.

And if Donald Trump, or some other dipshit candidate, goes strolling into the White House on millions of ironic votes because an entire generation has been literally and figurative let down by someone who promised them hope and change, well, we oughtn't get mad at the people who "throw away their votes." After all, the only people who throw away their votes are those who believe they aren't worth anything in the first place.

And we damn well know who gave them that idea.

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