As the artist who created the image and poster of then-candidate for president, Barack Obama, with first the word "Progress," and then later, and more appropriately, "Hope," I am frequently asked for my opinion on his presidency so far.
I generally avoid commenting about Obama's performance because I have found that the mainstream media tends to reduce my views to a simplistic position of being either "for" the President or "disappointed" or "against" him. So when I was interviewed last week by an established publication, I spent almost an hour talking to the reporter and trying to articulate my views on Obama and his Presidency to date. It is important to me that my words not be distorted or taken out of context to avoid Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing media attack machine creating a false storyline.
Yet that is exactly was happened. Sadly, my position was again reduced to "Obama 'Hope' poster artist, losing hope," which is not my opinion. As with millions of other Americans, young and old, my position is far more complex.
Let me state as simply as I can my views on President Obama. I support President Obama. I believe he is an intelligent, compassionate person, with many good policy ideas. If Obama runs for reelection in 2012, I will support him.
And while I wish he was more bold in action on issues of most concern to me -- health care, global warming, the war in Afghanistan, Wall Street reform, education, immigration reform -- I realize he is trying to do the best that he can given the obstructionist, "just say no to anything," opposition he faces from the Republicans in Congress.
And for the record, I have not lost "Hope," in President Obama, even if the change he ran upon is not coming as quickly many of us thought or hoped it might.
I realize Obama was handed the worst economy and political climate facing a president in modern history and that it will take time for our country to recover and begin to move in the right direction. I also realize the Republican party and its leaders have no intention of being constructive partners in trying to solve the difficult problems facing our nation. Unfortunately, the tough economy has created wide spread frustration among Americans resulting in many people looking for a scapegoat. Ironically, Obama has often been the scapegoat when the policies of those who oppose Obama are responsible for many of the hardships the nation is currently facing.
What is also frustrating to me is that the media wants to give readers a narrative of high drama instead engaging them in a broader and richer debate about the issues at stake. The quality of a discussion is determined by the depth and quality of information available to people. As Americans and as readers we have to hold our media as accountable as we hold our elected leaders.
Finally, I'd like to add that I believe that democracy is about more than just voting. I choose to address different political issues with my art, using images to increase awareness, and art sales to raise funds for social causes I care about. We all have outlets for our voices and choices about how we choose to spend our money, whether it's purchasing a fuel efficient hybrid or paying a little extra for electricity from green energy sources. Each of these acts sends a message to our leaders and corporations about the direction we want them to go.
Editor's note: This post was initially published without the concluding paragraph.
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