Bleeding Heart: Nobody Messes With Baby

By S.M. Blanchard

When I was sixteen, I went to see Barack Obama speak on a cow farm outside of my hometown in downstate Illinois. I stood in the bandstands on a cold April morning as the rain poured down atop a large white tent, which sat in the middle of the barely ripe corn stalks. The atmosphere drew my imagination to images of clowns, lions, tightrope walkers, and all other things that involved the circus.  This was my first clue as to what awaited my young self and my future encounters with U.S. politics.

I was one of maybe four liberals standing under the tent that day (this being an area of America south of the Mason Dixon line, where politics and its degenerate sister-liberal politics were not often discussed outside bylines of the Fox News broadcasts that occasionally hummed in the background of NFL football games and pizza parlors).  However, back in 2005, a name was starting to appear around our area a lot. Rumor had it, this guy could make people believe in something. And in an area that had seen several of its sons go off to fight a war, we needed it.

So there Obama stood in front of us, talking to the conservative, evangelical farmers of rural Illinois about the importance of exports in agriculture. Obama managed to clearly lay out not only how valued the Southern Illinois agricultural industry was for the state as a whole, but also how Illinois agriculture played a vital  role in helping boost America’s international exports. We weren’t just part of the state picture, or even the national picture. Those fields we tended, the livestock we raised, all our hard work had a vital and important place in the international framework. We farmers were international players.

By the end of his speech that day, Obama had made each individual in a room of roughly half a thousand people, feel as though their individual work was an essential part of the American economy. Even though I was only sixteen, I remember what it felt like in that tent after Obama spoke. Everyone came out of there believing in an idea that was bigger than themselves.

These past for years under the Obama administration have not exactly been the change we were fed to believe we would see. Some of those changes have taken place, most notably Obama Care- a policy that has saved the lives of countless friends who would not have been able to have the consultations, surgeries, treatments, and transplants they needed to survive. Other policy promises are yet to be fulfilled, and may not be.

I wont pretend that my political beliefs have no pertinence with why I wanted to obtain my masters in a foreign country. It was a quest to understand different political systems, different ideologies, and different beliefs. The United Kingdom has not let me down in that regard. I’ve had my conservative beliefs challenged on everything from what constitutes a national boarder in relation to migrant patterns to the morality of Obama’s methodological ‘kill list.’ These are notions that, even as a liberal American, went unchallenged in my mind until I learned from those living outside my boarders.

When I woke up at 2am London time to watch the speech this morning, my slightly embittered heart braced itself for what was to come: here stood two men – one man whose social policies I did not care for, and whose confusing economic policy seemed to lean upon unethical and unpragamatic practices. The other man had promised my generation a better tomorrow. After four years of a ‘two steps forward, one step backwards’ term, my hope was sinking for America. I was petered out by weary zealous partisan rhetoric, and ready to see a shift in the way America thinks politics. The thought of compiling a list of liberal countries I could declare political asylum was the first thing on my to-do list (regardless of the victorious candidate).

But there was only one thing that came to mind as I watched Barack Obama take on Mitt Romney in the second political debate of the election season: nobody messes with Baby.

The novelty of Obama’s approach last night wasn’t in the promised zingers, but in the fact that he came out doing what he does best: speaking as himself. He took on health care, the attacks on the Syrian Embassy, and women’s rights not by dogging issues or by keeping it diplomatic.  He attacked clearly and acutely.  More so, Obama made each issue stand clearly as major political concern not only for the American people, but also of himself.  He carried each concern into its larger context, carrying out that same sense of energy and excitement that I felt seven years ago when I sat in that circus tent. There is still potential for something bigger to happen.

Last nights debates inspired a new form of zest in the election coming in an old package; a sure candidate with a sound belief in his policy plans for the nation. It inspired an old hope for a continued change.  Because there has been change; a slow, continual change. Perhaps not as fast as we  bleeding heart liberals would like to see it. But there are a lot of voices in America, and perhaps the radical change that many of us would like to see, isn’t the best way for America. Perhaps it is this slow gradual change- a change that incorporates the voices of as many Americans as possible –both conservative and liberal alike- into a larger bureaucratic picture of democracy, is that change.



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