Resistance and Responsibility
President Barack Obama delivered a eulogy this week. His moving address, much like the eulogies he’s been forced to deliver throughout his presidency, touched on the beauty that was and the hope that has been prematurely extinguished. It was measured and accepting of the world in which we live and strive to change for the better. In Chicago, we heard common refrains of Boston, Sandy Hook and Charleston where his eloquent presentation of lost opportunity to forward our long journey bending toward justice was chronicled.
Those who tuned in wanted to hold on a second longer and those in the massive hall clearly oscillated between a mournful celebration of what was and the donning of sackcloth and ashes of what is to come.
It was tempered, solemn and, like the President himself, a grayer, wiser and calmer vision of hope and promise of change. What it wasn’t was an outline of resistance against the slow creep towards Fascism, a call to arms, a rallying point that many of us were hoping for from this historic figure.
That was good. And we saw why the next morning.
Fresh off a difficult and distracting news cycle, the President-elect held a press conference where he stumbled and bumbled through half-truths, obvious sleights of hand and savior-complex based proclamations of his proximity to God. Beyond being a disgusting display of innuendo and a criminal assault of the English language, the opening statements from PEOTUS drove the market down.
When men in these positions speak the world listens. It’s why it is so ridiculous to dismiss PEOTUS’ Tweets or to simply listen to his heart, as some of his sycophants try to parrot on cable TV. The power of the office is real and lasting; words are as powerful as actions and sometimes even more so when uttered by the leader of the currently free world.
President Obama failed to get the blood pumping for those who are concerned about our future. He continued to set the stage for a peaceful transition of power to one of the most dangerous people to ever occupy the White House. And as much as I hate that he did this, I think it was the right thing to do.
We must to stand up and fight back. But I’m not sure a front facing attack by the sitting President would effectively provide the ground work for the resistance we clearly need. The words President Obama used were powerful reminders of our responsibility to be citizens, of the work we must do to change what we know to be unjust.
Destabilizing the country doesn’t fix what is unjust. It just destabilizes it. As much as I want to hear President Obama blow the doors off the buildings, push forward on what I believe is right and to take that bloviating assbag to task, it would do no good now. Perhaps before. Perhaps later. But not while he’s in office and the PEOTUS press conference served as a solid proof point.
The resistance can’t be led by those in power but rather from those in the street who just want to live their lives. That is always more powerful.
It is why the picture of the man standing up to the tank in Tienanmen Square will forever be remembered and the picture of world leaders marching against terror in Paris will blend into history.
The Office of the President is an institution that holds certain responsibilities, chief among them is to defend the homeland and its people, from enemies both foreign and domestic. Destabilizing the nation doesn’t do that, in fact it makes it harder to achieve. We are faced with an uncertain future, but we aren’t riding into it with cities burning, thanks in large part to the steady hand of President Obama.
He was far from perfect in my mind. But his focus on the goodness of American people, our ability to affect change for the better for a majority of people and calmness in the face of the horror that is to come is both an asset and flaw. Yet, it makes the country strong enough to fight.
When someone beats Trump in four years, we will see what it looks like when a smooth transition is ignored and we can revisit this debate. Until that time, lets focus on what we are going to do after we lace up our boots.