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Holly Cara Price Headshot

What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?

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Let me explain why this all hurts so much.

In 2008 I was galvanized by the brilliant presidential campaign of Barack Obama. I got on the bus and I went to Pennsylvania, I went door to door and spoke to people I would never otherwise have met about how important it was to elect him to the most powerful office in the entire world. I had people slam doors in my face. I had people bum rush me out of their carport. Many people listened, because they were as sick as I was about the status quo. I registered people to vote who had never voted in their lives, people who never thought it would actually matter if they voted. I talked them into it. It was a thrilling time -- I had never before been moved to participate in our great democratic process to this extent.

And we changed the world, we made it happen, so many people worked so very hard to upset the apple cart for once, to strike on the side of youth and beauty and heroism and glory. It healed so many wounds that this country continued to have where scar tissue had barely grown. A man was elected president who brought us all together, a man born of mixed race parents, whose very existence would have been illegal not all that many years ago.

Do you remember that day? I do. I watched the inauguration live on television along with hundreds of others at Symphony Space on the upper west side of Manhattan. I stood with people from my neighborhood, children, seniors, white, black, Latino, Muslim, Asian, all of us together weeping and hugging each other. The dream was real. The day after the inauguration, I saw a black father and son walking down my block, the little boy not more than three years old, and he seemed to be walking prouder and taller at his young age, empowered by the fact that he could, finally, grow up to be president. It was now a reality. Yes, we can. Yes, we did.

And in the beginning I thought all would be well, I continued to hang on every word of every speech. I defended the President when many of my friends had problems with his methods, his decisions. I said, hey we have no idea how difficult that job is, there cannot be a worse job in the world. I was there, believing, when many around me dropped off and started grumbling it was the same old same old. I said -- and I continue to believe -- that if McCain had won that election, we'd be in so much worse shape than we are now.

But now -- I am at my wits' end. I think for me it began when the BP oil spill happened. As the oil pumped into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico for days and months unchecked, I was astounded that the President didn't get right on down there to the bayou and make it right, that he didn't hold BP accountable immediately for a tragedy that we still can't fully comprehend, a tragedy that will affect us for hundreds of years, in so many ways we'll never even begin to understand. And I read that BP was a big contributor to his presidential campaign, but I still tried to hang on to my tattered beliefs and make excuses.

And now, well, there is no denying that things are looking darker than ever. Not to be too dramatic, but the forces of evil started to gather in earnest once the election in 2008 showed the true power of democracy. The right wing became more strident and frightening than ever, splitting off and frightening even Republicans, forming the Tea Party, birthing crazymakers all over the damn place. Crazymakers who filled auditoriums with worried housewives and unemployed workers and gave them an enemy to hate and blame for it all. An enemy that they believed to be foreign, from a foreign land, until he finally had to make public his birth certificate to shut them up.

I'll be the first to agree that Obama didn't create the mess we're in. This situation comes from years and years of laissez-faire policies, endless pandering to the rich and powerful, bowing down before huge corporations and letting them have their way with our environment, looking the other way while our crumbling infrastructures break down brick by brick.

What Obama has done is let us down, he has let me down. I feel personally invested in his presidency because I am one of the millions of people who worked really hard to put him there, and I feel let down and unspeakably sad and angry. In the name of keeping the peace, he has let the Republicans walk right over him, and he has allowed it to happen, and crushed our dreams and hopes.

And yes, McCain would have been far, far worse for this country, but that isn't even remotely the point. Many millions of disenfranchised or heretofore disinterested voters went to the polls in 2008, some of them for the first time ever, to pull that lever for Hope and Change. And they deserve better. They deserve to have promises that were made by Candidate Obama, delivered by President Obama.

Health care reform, to name one that -- admittedly -- he tried to fix, but failed. That was a lovely little fantasy, wasn't it? A 24-year-old man in Cincinnati died last week from a toothache because he couldn't afford to buy the antibiotics that would have stopped the infection that spread to his brain and killed him. This did not happen in a third world country. It happened in the Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave.

On Friday of last week, right before the Labor Day weekend, which isn't as much of a holiday as it was originally intended to be now that unemployment is so rampant, President Obama decided to pull back on EPA restrictions that would have exacerbated the federal penalties for local air pollution on a state by state level. Buckling under to the GOP, who painted these regulations as "job-destroying," he pushed back the deadline for another two years to reexamine these standards.

And this is when I can no longer keep silent and ignore what's happening here. You know what, Mr. President? By 2013, things will be so much worse, it probably won't even matter anymore. This is not why we elected you. We elected you to keep our environment safe for us and for our families. I have had it with this endless pandering. You have given in to the GOP on everything -- from health care to tax cuts for the rich to Tea Party demands on that ridiculous debt deal. We're fast losing ground on every major plank in the Democratic Party's platform, and why? Because you seem to be more interested in placating the opposition than fulfilling the promises you made to those who put you in the Oval Office.

It's time to get riled up, to get angry. Before it's too late and another Presidential election is upon us and you lose any chance of those who supported you last time making it to the polls in 2012 because they'll say, why bother? Mr. President, you have to represent us, all of us, even - especially -- the Democrats and Independents who voted for you last time with such hope in their hearts.

This is not why you're sitting in the White House. We put you there, not them. It's time for you to realize that and do something for us. And for our children and our children's children.

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