Our Politicians are Not like Us

What’s your opinion about politicians? I personally don’t entertain good opinion about them. Why? Well, I have a null hypothesis about them: politicians are liars. They have to prove me wrong before I accept an alternative hypothesis. As far as I am concerned, they are not trustworthy. Before the election they would promise all the things you care about, but as soon as they are elected it seems that they suffer from selective amnesia. They forget all those promises. When you remind them of any particular promise, they say that either it is no longer in their priority list any more or that they are now better informed why not to fulfill it. You wonder how something could have changed so fast! Were you late in getting to the politician before the lobbyist from the opposing side approached him or her?

Politicians, to me, are more like pleaders, pimps and prostitutes. They are unethical (with rare exceptions of some honest lawyers). They have a price-tag with which they can be bought and sold. The price, of course, varies from politician to politician. Some like money, some like property, some like entertainment, some like sports, some like raw meat –” you know what I mean. Lobbyists are good at telling you what goes for whom and how much.

Even after knowing all the bad things I still end up casting my vote for them. Like many others, I believe that if I have not cast my vote, I have virtually failed to do my civic duty. I like to vote for the lesser of the evils, always hoping against hopes that once in a while I would be proven wrong, and that the politician I have voted for would do the things for which I have elected him or her to the political office. Well, you can’t truly blame me for hoping for the best.

The last time when I voted it was the 2008 Presidential election in the USA. The Republican Senator McCain was running against Democrat Senator Obama. McCain, to me, meant the same old thing –” the Bushy stuff. Obama sounded like a fresh breath of air, offering to change the course of direction the country had taken under Bush and Cheney. It was eight long, bad years. I could not let a repeat of another term under McCain, let alone settle for eight years.

Would you believe if I were to disclose a secret –” I voted for Governor Bush in the first election, the one held in 2000? You remember the hanging-Chads in Florida! Well, like many suckers, I was fooled into believing in George W. He sounded less of a politician to me compared to Vice President Gore. He sounded honest and honorable –” rare characteristics with politicians these days. He spoke about the rights of the Palestinian people. Wow! That is unbelievable! Too tempting! If you had followed my writings and speeches for the past three decades, you know why I had voted for him. I wanted to believe in his promise about at least restoring some rights of these unfortunate people. But it did not take too long for me to find out that he was a hypocrite.

You see we have a definition for hypocrisy: a hypocrite lies, breaks promise and abuses trust. Bush fulfilled all those three characteristics. In my book, of all the U.S. Presidents that had ruled the USA in the last 50 years, he undoubtedly was the worst. He was the worst nightmare for all those who sought peace, justice and fairness. And you know what — as the most powerful man on earth, he had all the right resources and relationship to do the right thing. [After all, what is the definition of a great leadership other than maximizing results (R) utilizing the resources (R) one have while exploiting relationship (R)? Remember the 3R’s.] But Bush failed miserably on all three counts. He betrayed not only his own countrymen but millions of others outside that wanted to believe in his message of compassionate conservatism. The 9/11 crisis brought the worst in him. He started behaving like Hulaku Khan, personifying evil and everything that is wrong with America.

So, the next time, when it came for me to vote in 2004, I did not vote for Bush. I voted for the loser –” Senator John Kerry. In October of 2008, shortly before the November election date, I had to go out in an overseas trip. But I did not want to waste my vote. Therefore, before I took the trip, I cast my ballot in favor of Obama as an absentee voter. I remember sitting in front of the TV all night some 10,000 miles away on the election night to find out if my man had won. I was so glad to see Obama win.

It was only ten days ago that I wrote a favorable article on Obama, congratulating him for reversing Bush’s torture policy declaring that it was wrong. Obama even hinted that he would release more memos and photos on torture. But last Thursday, May 14, 2009, he all on a sudden had a change of heart. He decided against releasing any more new photos stating that such would compromise America’s national interest and make it difficult for his troops now stationed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why such a change of policy, so soon? If you recall it was the ex-speaker (Republican) Newt Gingrich who last month objected to the release of those sensitive photos, calling Obama’s decision “un-American.” And then on Sunday, May 10, former vice president Cheney showed up on TV again repeating the same message. Is it difficult to surmise that Obama has caved into the Republican pressure –” the very people who authorized torture, soiling America’s prestige?

What do you expect from the politicians? We should have known that Obama is a politician and not one of us. Politicians are not ordinary citizens. They do things like politicians and not like us. That is why back in 2006 Obama campaigned for fellow Senator Joe Lieberman –” the war-mongering politician –” who was seeking reelection for the Senate Democratic ticket in the state of Connecticut against the pro-peace candidate Ned Lamont. [After losing that primary election, Lieberman ran as an independent candidate and got elected with the Republican support.]

In believing in Obama in 2008, we forgot 2006. So, now we are having some rude awakenings –” one after another. On Friday, May 15, 2009, Obama declared that he would reform and restart the military tribunals that he once reviled for Guantanamo Bay detainees. Worse still, this decision would jeopardize his own timetable for closing the prison by January 2010.

Thus, much like the matter with torture photos, in one swift move, Obama has not only backtracked on a major campaign promise to change the way the United States fights terrorism, but also undermined the nation’s core respect for the rule of law. Has he forgotten his own metaphor that no matter how one tries to put lipstick to a pig, it will remain a pig?

Before the election, Obama let us dream about a world that will see less violence. And yet, a few days ago, the House of Representatives approved $97 billion dollars in additional funding for wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, including more funding for the unmanned drones and air strikes, which are killing civilians. He is sending more troops in the troubled territories of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Is he looking for miracles this time that more troops and mercenaries will bring peace and stability? His supplemental devotes only 5% of the Iraq and Afghanistan funds to civilian peace building and 95% to military action. This is the wrong direction we are heading back. Why can’t he think like us –” the ordinary citizens?

The way things are, don’t be surprised if you next hear him rollback the January 2010 deadline for shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison to a later date. Don’t be shocked either if politician Obama rolls back the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq beyond his promise date of December 31, 2011.

Obama is a politician, after all! He is not like you and I.