When Barack Obama was running for president the first time, he presented himself as a unifier. “Hope and change” were supposed to be bipartisan concepts. He sold the country a vision of Republicans and Democrats working together, side by side, arm in arm, towards a better tomorrow.
Now, those of us who knew what Obama was really all about didn’t buy any of that nonsense for a moment. And even his admirers should be able to admit, at this point, that the president failed to bring our political divisions to an end. Quite the contrary; after eight years of his administration, both Washington D.C. and the country at large is more divided than ever.
We can speculate on Obama’s private thoughts. We can wonder about whether or not he ever cared one whit about repairing government gridlock or bringing disparate ideologies together. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that it was always just rhetoric – a smokescreen meant to hide his radical agenda.
But sometimes, it really does appear as though Obama regrets the effect of his presidency. Once in a while, he’ll say something that makes you think that he really did believe his own BS. That he’s still somewhat astonished that he’s not the unifier he thought he would be.
Maybe it’s just a mirage.
But if Obama still holds (or ever held) onto that thin hope of unity, he’s currently missing his last, best chance to bring us together. This moment in time is the perfect opportunity for Obama to heal a country torn apart by race. His skin color makes him uniquely qualified for the job. All he’s lacking is the will.
Americans do not want to be this far apart on matters of race relations. Conservatives are just as disgusted as liberals when we see blacks treated viciously or unfairly by the police. No one wants a country where people feel a constant, nagging fear of law enforcement. No one wants a system that treats defendants differently due to their race.
Nor does anyone want what happened in Dallas to become a regular thing.
Obama has tried to hit a conciliatory tone, criticizing and praising police officers and doing the same with Black Lives Matter protesters. But if he really wants to make a difference, he’s going to need to go further than that. Because the problem with BLM isn’t limited to their tactics or their rhetoric; it also extends to their claims and their goals.
It’s not enough to say, “the vast majority of police officers are outstanding.” Obama should also make it a point to remind the country that some of the vilified cops were also outstanding. Justified in their actions. Acquitted by a fair and thorough investigation. If he were even bold enough to hint at such a thing, it would go a long way towards pulling us back together.
Many conservatives – including many in law enforcement – would love to talk about police reform in a coherent, reasonable way that includes voices from every community and every race. But we can’t have that discussion when there are so many lies being endorsed (tacitly and directly) by the president of the United States.
If Obama wants to be the unifier he once claimed to be, he’ll have to choose truth over bias.
Unfortunately, he’s never showed the slightest willingness to do that.