This post is part of a series for the Youth Media Blog-a-Thon on the topic of “regime change.”
The presidential election of 2008 and the following inauguration were a very exciting time for me and many other Americans. For us, this was the culmination of years of hard work, years of hope and years of yearning for something that had been predicted in 1963. But even for those who hadn’t closely followed his campaign and intently studied his plans for the United States, “Obama” quickly became a household name.
People that may have not known much about Obama or his candidacy certainly knew what he looked like, through photos and increasingly through the eyes of visual artists. Additionally, they may have heard praises for him from people other than his campaign workers–including musicians, poets and writers. Arguably, more than any other presidential candidate in history, Barack Obama was elevated to mythic proportions through the use of iconic imagery and romanticized prose- much of the content made available direct to viewers through sites such as YouTube.
Check out this video from the visual artist known as Shepard Fairey. He brought vision and reality to the traveling gallery exhibition called Manifest Hope, which sought to showcase work from artists that expressed support for Obama’s presidential campaign.
You can also check out some footage from the Manifest Hope show that was held in Denver, CO this past summer.
So what are the implications of us bestowing Obama with nearly messianic qualities? My greatest concern is that people now have unreasonable expectations of his presidency and what he will be able to accomplish. Is it possible that he can save the world from all of its woes and worries? It is not impossible, but in the course of 4 years… this writer finds it unlikely. It would be more realistic for U.S. citizens to look at Obama through the lens of reality and acknowledge that he is just one citizen among many, and that it will take the hard work of every American to repair our economy, our environment, our school systems, etc. When Obama spoke of the importance of public service, his message rang true with me, a decorated veteran of the armed services. I implore all of you readers, Obama supporters or not, to not place too much responsibility or hope into one man; for a surprising amount of groundbreaking work can be done on a local level by people like you and I.
For more information on what you can do to help your community, check out some of these great programs and websites.
Cameron for My Wonderful World