January 18, 2021

Dr. Obama’s Amazing American Elixir

Posted on 19. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

The fight for America’s soul and the debate on socialism is not new in America.

It’s just entered our orbit of consciousness with a vengeance since the election of a president who, in his own words in October of 2008, said, “We are five days from fundamentally transforming America.”

Pundits and parsers will probably say that was just a candidate being political, but those of us on terra firma will recognize it as a prophetic statement about a radical transformation of our economic and political system that would soon be made by a committed ideologue who was days away from doing it!

Either way, it was a clear marketing victory.

Those who say Mr. Obama didn’t live up to his central campaign promises weren’t paying attention. He told us, repeatedly, that he was a change agent. Knowing that, why wouldn’t we believe that he would change his positions once he was elected? Americans weren’t listening with their ears. They were in a shopping trance, wanting to buy something new that reflected their own self-image.

They were searching for a product that would cure all their ills. What they wanted was actually a miracle wonder product from an earlier century, routinely sold on street corners and at carnivals all over this land. It was commonly known as, ‘snake oil.’

They found exactly what they were looking for in Dr. Obama’s Amazing American Elixir.

By voting for him, they cleansed their consciences about America’s past racial transgressions. Younger voters got their cool guy who was slim, played basketball, had smoked cocaine and was only slightly removed from their generation.

The Black and Hispanic communities elected a man seemingly sympathetic to them. Barack Obama made the presidency attractive to first-time voters who were looking for transformational change.

The only problem was that many in these groups knew little about how America actually worked let alone how to transform it. They only knew how it looked to them and hadn’t a clue how Wall Street, Main Street and Capitol Hill fit together.

Ideologies have always needed memorable images, words, songs and symbols to sell their message, and secularism and socialism are no different.

Secularism sells itself on a simple premise: society is better served, more fair and easier to manage without all this religious nonsense. Socialism is not far behind with: the needs of the many outweigh the inconvenience of the few.

The truth is we’ve always had a dollop of secularism and socialism in America and seen its ebb and flow, especially during times of crisis when standing together made for a solid defense (in the Great Depression, during WWII, and now in the Age of Obama and the Great Recession).

The danger now is that we’ll jettison our traditional capitalistic system and adopt an unworkable government-managed economic model out of fear.

Pushing a social justice theme and espousing income redistribution with a “you didn’t build that” mantra, the 44th president continues to ride a populist wave of support on a surfboard of pointed rhetoric, rhetoric that has worked up until now.

Americans have always been suckers for a good slogan whether it’s where’s the beef or the pause that refreshes.

We bought big cars with shark fins, hula hoops and pet rocks, spiked our hair, wore dog collars and suffered high colonics. With all that consumer history, why would anyone think that we couldn’t be sold and re-sold a president and that he would ride in on a messianic message of hope?

Ad men were proud of candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. It was masterful, right down to the use of the new social media which became the message.

Young people self-identified with the media Mr. Obama used and the bond was forged. They bought the T-shirt, the new world decals for their back packs AND the message.

It was change we could believe in…at first sight and any thinking person had to be thinking Obama. The others were just unenlightened.

It wasn’t a hostile takeover that America experienced on January 20, 2009.  We got a taste of the classic leveraged buy-out. The financial sponsor (the candidate) acquired the controlling interest (our votes) in our equity (the running of the country) and then financed his operation through leveraged borrowing (increased national debt), trillions of dollars of it, in record time.

That was then, but in eleven short weeks Americans will have a choice: sign on to four more years of the same or turn around, go back to the place where we left our values and start anew.

We may have to face facts, however…that we have become mere consumers of promises and have lost our taste for critical thought. If that is the case, we should all be investing our money in the media, because that is where the battle for the hearts, minds, pocketbooks and votes of Americans will be fought, at least until November. Caveat emptor.

- Editor









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