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El Espectador, Colombia

Obama’s Great Deception

By Daniel Pacheco

Translated By Nicole Irizarry

21 January 2013

Edited by Drue Fergison

Colombia - El Espectador - Original Article (Spanish)

The “new dawn of American leadership” never arrived as promised four years ago in that victory speech in Chicago, while we all rubbed our eyes in disbelief, making sure that we were not dreaming: A black man with a Kenyan father was elected to the presidency of the U.S. But that was not the great deception.

The great deception also does not refer to the fact that he did not fulfill his promise for immigration policy reform. Or that he has a list of people he can easily kill with a drone, even if they’re standing next to their families in, let’s say, Pakistan. Or that he continues to be a coward when it comes to Latin America’s repeated pleas to eradicate the war on drugs, which continues to bleed several countries in South America to death, while in the U.S. he stands idly by at the legalization of marijuana in two states.

There was another promise, a broader and more hopeful one. Obama’s election encompassed it, but it had more to do with a change that transcended that country’s borders. Clay Shirky, a sociologist focused on emerging technologies, really captures it well in a book he published that same year, 2008, titled “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.” “The hallmark of revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the existing society,” says Shirky, regarding how new media like Facebook and Twitter, at that time still new, could effect social change. He continues, “The increase in the power of both individuals and groups, outside traditional organizational structures, is unprecedented. Many institutions we rely on today will not survive this change without significant alteration…”

With Obama we were expecting (very naively, in hindsight) a model of how to govern outside the traditional power structures. Without the intervention and curatorship from the mainstream mass media. Without favors being traded from politician to politician behind closed doors. Without the rusty channels of traditional politics. His arrival to power seemed to be the beginning of “significant alterations” that would begin to occur all over the world, in part due to the combination of technology and social networks, but mostly due to the rise of a new young citizenry.

But in these four years, all of that has been diluted by weak leadership that, after losing the majorities in the legislative machinery, remained stuck. The president seems to suffer from that failure. He remains obstinate in not negotiating with his rivals, and only at the last minute does he unleash his vice president to oil the wheels of the process.

Even Obama’s campaign machine, the most formidable ever seen in any democracy, which in the last elections managed to raise millions of dollars, surpassing the Republican moguls, today seems like a traditional and boring structure.

But it’s not your fault, Barack; with you, we all lost. Now, time to awaken.



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