Like many Americans, last night I stayed up (despite being in agonizing pain from a massage gone awry but that’s another post) to catch President Obama’s first state of the Union of the Union address. Thanks to the marvels of technology no longer do we have to watch a speech in the privacy of our home and wonder what others are thinking, hell you don’t have to wait to get to the water cooler to chew it over. Nope, thanks to Facebook and Twitter you can have a running discussions with a bunch of other people. I have to say I might have enjoyed that aspect of things more than the entire speech as it gives insight into how my fellow Americans (and others) are thinking when it comes to the state of things in this nation.
For starters, Obama came bringing a bit more fire than he has in a while. But really is this a surprise? Shit, this man has a way with words, he has a gift for speaking, no one not even his opponents will deny that unless they are completely ape shit crazy. As someone who’s early career was in sales and marketing, I would say he has a great knack for selling us what we want to hear. I can only imagine how hard it is being the nation’s first Black president…the expecations. There are those who while they may never admit it, thought when Obama was elected he would be magical like a Will Smith character…I think Larry the Senior Black correspondent on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show recently gave a great summary about the expectation of Obama being the Magical Negro. Go Google it, it’s a good piece.
I want to talk though a bit about why I am personally a tad somber about my expectations for the country. See, I noticed on my Twitter feed it was almost an even split between folks who are also feeling a smidge disillusioned about things and those who said well he’s inherited a mess and how can anyone expect such a mess to be cleaned up in a year.
Look, I can’t imagine anyone other than someone who truly felt Obama was going to be the Magical Negro would expect to have shit cleaned up in a year. Hell, that’s not realistic at all. But I have a theory, hear me out. Everyone I know either online or in life who is getting impatient tends to be in the camp that is feeling the sting of the great recession. Right now jobs are scarce and to be honest they got a lot more scarce in the past year. None of the original estimates had unemployment reaching 10%…um, we are there. Shit last I heard wasn’t it 10.2%? Who knows what the real figure is but chances are if you are unemployed, you are competing with at least 5-6 other people for every available job. If you are Black well shit, your chances of finding a job are even harder. One of the figures I have seen bandied around is 15.6% for Blacks who are unemployed but like regular unemployment those figures are hard to get a handle on since unemployment rates don’t truly factor in things like when folks stop collecting unemployment benefits, they cease to be counted. Then there are those folks like myself who are underemployed…we got jobs but they are less than 40 hours a week so as you can imagine it makes life a tad tight.
Now I heard a plan last night that seems focused on creating some jobs and surely the stimulus plan did stop more folks from becoming unemployed but the reality is we need more, we need a lot more. Folks are embracing frugality and no one is going spending (which is really what we as a nation seem to be about, what the fuck do we produce here anymore other than spenders?) until they know that are financially secure again. Yeah, we will loosen the belts now and then but by and large our eyes have been opened and we know we are broke. See, no money means no spending which keeps us as a nation in the financial doghouse since our economy is sadly based on the notion that we must consume.
See, those folks (myself included) who are working hard to survive are not feeling as generous about time. Now I will admit my own personal situation is looking up, things are going better for the Spousal Unit and his clients, which would be a good thing except that soon we will be without health insurance. This past year we were able to access state health coverage thanks to the drop in income, well that drop is over and in a few weeks so is my coverage. Now that might be a good thing except that the rise while good still won’t allow me to buy any decent coverage. Remember the Spousal Unit is a self-employed contractor so there is no company sponsored plan and I work at an agency that does not offer insurance because we barely keep the doors open and unless our funding grows the money is not there to offer me coverage. Right now a policy with a $30,000 deductible will cost me over $400 a month! Translation I have to run up and pay for $30,000 in bills before the policy kicks in…sure I got 30G’s sitting around. To get a real policy with a $500 deductible is over $1000 a month, pretty much making that increase in income void.
Thing is my plight is the plight of millions, that would be why so many wanted some type of meaningful reform that might make coverage accessible. So when we hear that after a year we might need to slow down the health care reform wagon well, some of us start getting mighty pissed off. Now to be fair this is the fault of the GOP but bottom line we got a fucked up system.
I think it’s easier for folks who still have access to good or even adequate healthcare and decent jobs to say let’s be patient where folks who are struggling are getting mad. It’s not about unreal expectations but about the fact that we literally have millions who are barely existing and many of these folks used to be members of the middle class. In my work I literally see folks who used to give now having to receive and this is not just in my corner of the world, its happening all over this country.
We need some radical change, we need lawmakers to come together by hook or crook to help folks. I like President Obama but what I really want now is for him to channel Sam Jackson and start cracking heads or whatever it takes to create some change and help for the folks who are struggling just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I think last night’s speech was great but at the same time I look back over the past year and think dude at times it feels like you forgot the little folks who worked so hard to get you elected. (Of course some of my sister bloggers, ya’ll know who you are say really he never stated he was down for the little folks in the first place but I’m gonna leave that alone for now) Folks who believed so much in change that they gave money $5, $10 at a time, they knocked on doors because when you spoke we wanted to answer that call for change we could believe in.
I imagine there are some who will read this and think I am being hasty and yes he has 3 more years to create change but are you aware there are some who don’t have 3 more years or 8 years, those folks need help now. I must admit when he spoke of freezing budgets I wonder what that will mean for folks already struggling but of course we won’t know till it happens.
Anyway, what were your thoughts on the SOTU? Even if you don’t agree with me, I would love to hear what you have to say. By the way what about that Chris Matthews?