It looks like from a shaky start, President Barack Obama is going to end his presidency on a high note. There is a saying “all is well that ends well.” If President Obama does what was expected of him, in the end then he still can be considered to have lived up to people’s expectations. After the Regan-Bush years and after the fall of the Soviet Union, many sane people in America and in the world were getting tired of the emergence of an arrogant, jingoist, populist and extremist America where there was no room for any meaningful dialogue. You could hear voices all around you, “My country right or wrong”, “America is the greatest, love it or leave it”, and “Do not confuse me with facts I have already made up my mind.” Leaders like George Bush, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Nikki Haley are the product of such times.
What is common among these so called great Americans? Their perception of America is of a Cinderella or a fairy land where they can fulfill all their dreams. What is their biggest dream? Make lots and lots of money and buy lots and lots of goods (toys). In their dream land called America there is no discrimination, no prejudice, no disparities, no poverty, and no deprivation. People who see racism, prejudice, and discrimination are anti America or America bashers. If there are people who are poor or deprived, it must be that they are “too lazy” or “too stupid to have any dreams”.
Their foreign policy recommendations are equally childish. America is the strongest country in the world, it can and should beat the sh…. out of any country which dares to question it or dares to stand up to it. Unfortunately, America and the world are not like the fairy land of these grown up kids. The reality is too complex and beyond the comprehension of these eternal kids; these individuals, who would rather live in their fairyland and forever play with their toys, than grow up and become painfully aware of the complexities and problems of America or the real world.
President Obama was elected president because people expected him to be different than this rich boys club. People expected him to show more maturity and wisdom than this Brady bunch. However, in the beginning, President Obama failed to show his mettle. He even tried to deny the ugly reality of racism, discrimination, and prejudice. He became too bogged down with his Obamacare to make a significant difference in any other field.
Finally President Obama seems to be saying, enough is enough, and has started the countdown; One: Racism, a big American problem
Two: Improve US Cuba relations
Three: Iran nuclear deal
People who expected him to be different now feel that he is finally trying to be what they expected.
I came to America in the early 70’s. I feel that those were the golden American years. The atmosphere was quite different than what there is today. I never felt intellectually suffocated. I did not even feel that I was a non-white. I experienced a degree of openness which has almost disappeared. People have become too mechanical to have a meaningful interaction. The very first time I traveled in America was from New York to Chicago in a United Airline plane. I had just landed at the JFK airport from India. People around me were all whites, but I just blended in. I never felt like a stranger. When I told them that I had just arrived from India, they questioned how I spoke English so well.
In my first year of stay in America, I went to many universities such as University of Chicago, University of Indiana Bloomington, Columbia University (New York), University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), and Berkley University (San Francisco). Even though I was a doctor in training, students would invite me just to talk to their group. I would openly criticize American policy in Vietnam (the war was ongoing); nobody told me that I was anti American. The other students who were mostly whites never made me feel that I was different. They would listen to my views, and most would agree. A Jewish girl took me to a synagogue in Chicago. This was the first time I was in a synagogue. I was surprised when the Rabbi harshly criticized American policies in Vietnam. Even the Indian students were very different then. Generally, they held left leaning or at least progressive views unlike the trend in the Indian community today. They were interested in listening to and discussing global affairs. Today many Indian students only want to talk about the expensive cars and palatial homes their parents own/or they want to buy if they get rich. Another favorite topic among them is the ocean cruises or the vacation homes or the time sharing places their families own. No wonder we have produced Mr and Mrs Capitalism such as Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley.
When President Obama was elected, I felt I would get a chance to relive my life of the 70’s. However, President Obama proved a total let down as far as my dream was concerned. I lived in America for many years, hoping that this unreal America of Bush-Palin-Jindal-Haley is just a temporary fad and the real America will come back. I am glad that Obama finally did in the end what I hoped he was going to do in the beginning. However, it is still better late than never. Finally the real America, the tolerant America, the diverse America, the enthusiastic America, and an America willing to change with the changing world situation will be back soon. Unlike some of my countrymen, I feel such an America is a great America and is much better than an arrogant, a stubborn, a rigid, an intolerant, a closed, and a big bully which they like. Another very good thing which I am hopeful, will happen is that once President Obama has turned the corner, Hillary will maintain the momentum of change. She will really change America from the pseudo great concept of the little boys and little girls club to a really great America of mature adults. If Hillary can help Bill to grow up, she can help America to grow up too.
I have a lot of confidence in Hillary’s ability. I only wish she should have taken over sooner. Again, better late than never is the traditional wisdom.