What It Do: The Gravity Of Reality

George W. Bush’s second term was marred by the albatross of Iraq, an ascendant Democratic Party, and the chickens of his administration’s shitty policy choices coming home to roost. Bill Clinton was hamstrung by some tapes and a blue dress. I believe there was a cigar involved.

Reagan will be forever tied to Oliver North and Nicaraguan rebels. Nixon resigned in corrupt style after Watergate. Lyndon Johnson, who couldn’t wash the bloodstains of Vietnam from his conscience, chose not to run for re-election. You’d have to go back to Dwight Eisenhower, who left the White House 52 years ago in 1961, to find a president who didn’t ride some type of existential scandal out of office.

For President Barack Obama, the lodestone seems to be the mind-boggling number of otherwise rational people who are unhesitantly ready to believe the absolute worst about the man. Everyone is familiar with the birthers (he was born in Kenya!) and the Islamophobes (ZOMG! Muslim Black Liberation Brotherhood!). Now more liberally minded people are letting their anti-Obama flag fly, most recently regarding the so-called Monsanto Protection Act.

I wrote an entire column about that legislation, with the idea that Monsanto and their congressional allies had chosen to sneak it through while everybody was focused on the Proposition 8 arguments in the Supreme Court. It wasn’t until later that I figured out what the real game had been. Monsanto knew that such a blatant immunity from the courts wouldn’t fly, in the long run. The Supremes would strike it down just to protect their turf.

But they put that stinker in a bill that Obama had no choice but to sign—the continuing resolution that kept the federal government functional in the face of sequestration—giving him the political equivalent of a gut wound. After that little bit of political jiu-jitsu, people who would otherwise be part of Obama’s political coalition are now ranting about him “signing away our future,” ironically making it more likely that Monsanto will end up being able to do whatever the fuck they want.

In case people forgot, there is a major political party in this country that is actively seeking to take sledgehammers to the foundations of our entire goddamned society, and let corporate rule reign over whatever remains. I have my criticisms of the Obama administration, but as I said during the election, those criticisms would only be amplified under Republican rule. And you’d have to pile a whole new mountain of problems on top of those.

You think Obama is fond of drones? How reticent do you think the man behind corporate vulture Bain Capital would have been to make the calculation that he could kill without the political blowback that comes from dead troops? How compassionate would he have been towards random, faceless people on the far end of the globe?

I’m not trying to excuse or justify the actions of the Obama administration, or the United States Government. Innocent people suffer in our name around this planet, whether from drone missiles striking an Afghani wedding or factories in far-flung corners of the world who exploit the life energy of their labor so we can have cheap consumer electronics. The phrase “that’s not okay” hardly covers it.

But opposing President Obama damn sure isn’t going to change any of that. If anything, it will make those things worse.

Obama is doing exactly what I expected him to do both times I voted for him: engaging in the knife fight that is American politics according to his priorities, some of which I wholeheartedly endorse and some of which I adamantly oppose. Simply put, he was the best option, by a long shot, and nothing has happened to make me regret my vote or question my attitude during either election.

You want to change the world? Cool. Start with your neighborhood, where you might actually make a difference in real people’s lives. Because that’s what this is all about. Real people. Real life. It’s about the human beings who would have died in the war with Iran that would have been likely under McCain or Romney (or, god forbid, Sarah Palin). It’s about the people whose lives are directly affected by federal policy (hint: all of us) and whether the people in charge of governance believe in the concept of a functional government.

Is there corruption? You bet your ass. Welcome to the United Snakes of America. It’s been that way for a long time. It won’t change from the Oval Office or congressional committee. It will only change when we change ourselves and how we interact with our world. How we spend (and make) our money. How we find ways to live our lives without feeding into the patterns we oppose (for instance, taking your money out of banks and putting it into local credit unions). How we improve our ability to consider how our actions affect the people around us.

A few decades of that, and the Oval Office and the rest of the government might start to reflect better things. Until then, we have the reality we have. Time to start living in it.