It was always one of the most frustrating aspects of Barack Obama's rise to power. While the famous keynote speech he delivered at the 2004 Democratic National Convention catapulted him to fame, the rhetoric he used there was a startling departure from his previously established reputation as an instigator and agitator.
Obama cut his teeth in the dirty arena of corrupt Chicago politics, having learned the duplicitous art of "community organizing" from some of the most notorious theorists (Saul Alinsky), and even criminal mentors (Bill Ayers).
I remember desperately asking my less politically engaged colleagues and friends - those who had bitten down hard on the false promises of "hope and change" - "Where exactly is the hope?"
It was at first a campaign, and later a presidency, constructed entirely around:
- Grievance mongering: These people have taken from you for years and they owe you, so it's time to take what is yours.
- Fear mongering: These people are evil, and will mistreat, abuse, or kill you if you don't do this now.
- Race-baiting: Pay no attention to all the positive indications of racial harmony that surround you; they are a mirage that veils the underlying spirit of Jim Crow that lives loudly in communities of color.
That isn't hope. It was never hope. It was never going to be hope. Why? Because hopeful people aren't easily manipulated or whipped into a frenzy; fearful people are. But you can't market yourself as an agent of fear. After all, people are far less likely to purchase a copy of, "The Audacity of Fear" than "The Audacity of Hope." So the public charade persisted with all rational protestations falling on deaf ears.
The cult of personality, like the one that surrounded Obama, is so difficult to escape from because it involves the discomforting recognition and embarrassing public admission that you were duped. But anyone who ever believed that former President Barack Obama was a change agent peddling hope, rather than an ordinary politician with extraordinary oratorical skills stoking bitterness and resentment, was guilty of imbibing a bit too much South Side Kool-Aid.
What animated Obamism was always cynicism and anger, and absolutely nothing has changed:
This is what I despise about politics. It's so self-centered, so self-aggrandizing, so self-worshipping. Obama himself does not live like this. He isn't angry and frustrated about climate change and everyone knows it.
You don't fly on private jets, relax comfortably in palatial estates in Martha's Vineyard during the summer and Hawaii during the winter, and only show up for climate events to collect your speaking honorarium checks if you truly believe the earth is on a collision course with heat combustion.
He is not the one "in the trenches" for Mother Earth because he knows it isn't a crisis. He doesn't want young people to "stay angry" so that the climate will stop changing; he wants them to stay angry so that they'll continue financing the grift that benefits him. It's using people - the definition of dishonest fraud.
So, to any young person reading this who has yet to fall into the trap of political hero-worship, I'm begging you to save yourself. Politics has its place, but life is so much bigger and there are a million better ways to spend your fleeting years on earth than being angry about something that no one honestly believes we could change even if we wanted to.
No law is going to lower temperatures. No regulation is going to reduce the number of hurricanes next fall. That's not how any of this works, and the ones who tell you that it does are far more concerned with their own well-being than yours.
So please, don't waste a second of your time on people who want you angry and fearful. Instead find real hope in the promises of One not bound by term limits or the silly machinations of temporary earthly thrones. One who promises joy despite your circumstances, offering real hope and change.
Unlike fake political messiahs, He doesn't ask you to stay angry, but rather asks you to let Him take your anger from you.
He doesn't ask you to channel your frustrations to accomplish His work, but rather asks you to trust Him enough to release your frustrations in a sea of grace.
He doesn't ask you to work tirelessly to accomplish the impossible, but rather to rest in His finished work which once seemed impossible.
That's a much better path than the one Obama offers. There is hope, real hope, for those who aren't too proud to choose it.