Today is a day for politics
President Obama made comments last Friday in Fort Myers, Florida, about the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado. Here’s an excerpt of what he had to say:
So, again, I am so grateful that all of you are here. I am so moved by your support. But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.
This makes no sense. Actually, it’s offensive. When is it a day for politics, President Obama? And why are we treating this tragedy like an act of nature?
When a guy gets enough ammunition shipped to him legally, through the U.S. Post Office, to perform a massacre, and he rigs his house with sophisticated booby traps over months of preparation, we can safely say two things. First, this guy was absolutely insane, and second he had all of the resources available to him to kill dozens of people.
I can understand why, for the families of the victims, their therapists or priests may ask them to accept this fatalistically – they can’t get their loved one back. But as a nation, we should not be willing to be so passive in the face of what is obviously a fucked up system. We can imagine, I hope, a culture where it’s a wee bit more difficult to massacre innocent people if and when you decide that’s a good idea.
It begs the question of why we’ve become so inured to bad politicians. Notice I’m not saying inured to violence and random shootings, because we’re not, actually. We are all horrified, but in the face of such tragedy we shrug our shoulders and say stuff about the fact that there’s nothing we can do. Because that’s what our politicians say.
I’ll draw an analogy between this and the financial crisis, which is ongoing and could be getting worse. We often hear passive, third person narratives coming from our politicians and central bankers, who talk about the bankrupt banks and the corruption like there’s nothing we can actually do to fix this. Again, acts of nature.
Bullshit. These guys have been paid off by bank lobbyists and told to act impotent. They are following orders. Our country deserves better than this leadership, whose politicians give money to banks, which they turn around and use to buy off politicians. As Neil Barofsky said in his new book:
“The suspicions that the system is rigged in favor of the largest banks and their elites, so they play by their own set of rules to the disfavor of the taxpayers who funded their bailout, are true,” Mr. Barofsky said in an interview last week. “It really happened. These suspicions are valid.”
I’d like to separate, for a moment, two issues. First, what we have come to expect from Obama, who gave us such hope when he was elected. Second, what we deserve – what we should expect from a politician who cares about people and doing the right thing.
There’s a huge difference, but let’s not lose sight of that second thing. That’s when I turn from pissed to bitter, and I really don’t want to be bitter.
This is a day for politics, President Obama, so step it up. I’m not giving up hope that someone, though probably not you, can deliver it to us.