When President Barack Obama was elected, I was rather a-political. I was starting college. I actually just got out of the Marines and off an Iraq deployment only a few months prior. I also had a slew of problems adjusting to civilian life amidst a recent series of personal tragedies. Politics? Whatever. Who has the time?
The only real moment that stood out to me in 2008 was when another student, a black student if I’m being very honest, said very confidently to the whole class, “It’s time we had a black man in the White House!”
That was it. That was the end of his explanation.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My entire life, I had been raised on the belief that skin color had nothing to do with a person’s ability and that treating every race equally was all that mattered. We had been taught to be colorblind, but there was a student arguing that policies didn’t matter, voting patterns didn’t matter, experience didn’t matter. His skin color alone was what mattered. I was floored. This was racism. That was exactly racism. This was complete and total racism. It was saying, in a college History class no less, that a person was qualified for the most powerful role in the country because of the color of his skin. He might as well have said, “I’m not voting for anyone if they are white.”
I looked to the teacher, and she said nothing, as if, “Good enough.” When did it become acceptable for people to say that skin color alone was the qualifier for anything, especially the office of President of the United States?
I wanted to ask right then, “Don’t policies matter?”
I legitimately wanted to know. Like I said, I had a lot of life happening in 2008, so the election didn’t really weigh too heavily on my mind, even though it was already September or so. I’m ashamed of how ignorant and apathetic I was. But here I was in college and I wanted to know what the man stood for. In particular, I wanted to know his foreign policy. Remember, I was so fresh from the sandbox, I still had sand falling out of my… Let’s just say it was still on my mind. Many of my friends still in the Marines were going to deploy again very shortly into the tenure of the new president, and so many people I knew had already suffered so much for the gains we had made in Iraq. By the end of 2007, the war was as good as won. So all the next guy had to do was nothing stupid and we’d be fine there. Still, I wanted to know that this guy wouldn’t botch the whole thing.
But I said nothing. At that time, I was afraid of saying, “That’s not good enough for me. I’d like to know his foreign policy.” I feared that if I questioned his logic, I would be called a racist.
That was my first run in with identity politics. And as an additional point, I didn’t go to school in some blue state where I might have expected this. I went to school in Dallas, Texas.
I did start looking more into things on my own, though. That left me with only one real series of questions.
“What does Change even mean? Change what? How? What’s the context, here?”
Then the election happened. I wasn’t too torn up, though I was surprised. I expected people to go for the experienced veteran, being that we were in the middle of two wars. I understood very little back then.
After that, however, I started seeing a lot of things that were fairly alarming. Now President Obama was making some terrible choices with our military. This included ignoring the conflicts to a great degree while apologizing across the world for our presence. “This will embolden our enemies,” I thought. Then he placed in a series of secretaries over the DoD and the various branches who clearly were more interested in “reforms” that had nothing to do with making our warfighters more combat effective, but everything to do with partisan social agendas. There were also cuts being made and the sequestration. Just so you know, that’s a really frightening word if you’re in the military, and particularly if you’re in the military in the middle of two active conflicts. Then there was the pullout from Iraq. There, I got angry. I told my wife then that if we pull out of Iraq the terrorists were going to take over all of Al Anbar (where I had been deployed). But he gave out that wonderful stimulus package, so everybody got $800. Why should I complain?
Then ISIS happened and I was proven right. Places, where people I knew died, were now the property of the worst terrorists the world had ever known, born strictly out the absence of the American military forces after we had gained control of it years prior. I was upset about Iraq, to say the least. Then I got more upset at the complete lack of a response to Russia in Ukraine; upset about the Iran deal; upset that Afghanistan was ignored after they got Bin Laden; and upset that diddly squat was being done about a suddenly nuclear-armed North Korea test firing their first generation of ICBMs.
Switching back to local… did I mention that I also graduated during this time… and that I had to get a job during the slowest recovering recession in our nation’s history? Nothing will slap you in the face harder than finding out that graduating with honors from a good university and military experience aren’t enough to get you a decent job a full four years after Obama took office and more than five years after the start of the recession.
I ended up finally being hired in a crap retail management position where my job was to write schedules that screwed over my employees. Of course, that wasn’t what the ad read, but yes, that was my job. I had to take people who had been working with the company for years and deserved full-time status, and never allow them more than 32 hours a week. If they worked more than 35 enough weeks, they automatically qualified as full-time employees. Why is that bad? Thanks to this new healthcare legislation coming down that forced companies to pay healthcare worth more than the labor of their employees, the companies juggled to figure out a scheme that allowed them to stay in the black. That involved Operations Managers like me essentially switching from managing operations, the sort of harder and faster motivation that I was good at, to screwing over employees. I was good at harder and faster. I was Marine after all, but not screwing over good and hardworking people who deserved to work the hours they wanted to, but I would be doomed if I gave them more than 35 a week. Granted, I didn’t realize at the time that I was an evil corporate miser, but looking back, that’s all I was.
Oh, my company was bad, but then I found out that they weren’t the only ones. As it turned out, people predicted that this behavior would run rampant. Unemployment would go down, but underemployment would skyrocket as people would take on not one job adequate for their needs and appropriate to their skills, but three part-time jobs because no one was going to be hiring full-time employees now. Upward mobility also became impossible, and millions of people still couldn’t get healthcare.
I’ve read many arguments against The Affordable Care Act, but this is the one that did me in on the President’s desire to do nice things domestically. There were really obvious signs that this wouldn’t work, that it would cause some massive problems, but people who raised their hand to say anything… racists — or if they objected to the plan itself, they lacked empathy. I’m sorry, but all those kids in college who were so livid toward anyone who disagreed with them and said they lacked empathy, they never had to empathize with real people. They didn’t know Charity.
And Charity isn’t a euphemism. That’s her real name: Charity H. She was a real hard worker. Always reliable. I knew that if anyone flaked, I could rely on her. She was quiet, but exactly the sort I wanted on my teams. It was my job to force her into taking a second job. I became very angry years after leaving retail and walking past that same store and seeing Charity still working there, probably in the same position, and probably at no more than 32 hours a week.
At some point during this time, the church shooting happened where a deranged nutbag shot and killed a small bible study at a predominately black church. That was heartbreaking, reminding every one of Columbine and other shootings of the sort. The president himself went to lead the funeral. I thought that was classy. Then, out of nowhere in the speech,
“It’s time to take down that flag!”
He was talking about the Confederate flag, in whatever state still flew it. I’m sure there was a healthy debate about that before the shooting, but to me and many people, this was a statement taken so far out of left field — owing absolutely nothing to the problem of bat-crap crazy people murdering others — that I was floored at how he seemed to shift the blame to a whole state for what this one guy did. In reading the actual text of the speech, the entire three paragraphs of the eulogy where the flag came into question, he didn’t mention the actual killer once. Instead, the clear and overwhelming focus was on how racist America was, not the individual in question. American history somehow caused this. It was literally as if he was saying all of us were responsible — not just the killer. Even if he was a perfectly sane person who just simply was a horrible, horrible racist, we all were responsible because of American history. He was just a symptom of a deeply racist nation. I was completely lost as to why this egregious crime was being suddenly turned into a political call to action that had nothing to do with the events in question, one that put the onus of responsibility on all Americans and their inescapable racism.
I remember not long after that, there was this 16 or 17-year-old girl posing with her friends in front of the flag before prom. Prom. They’re freaking kids. You may not agree with that. You may think that every white person in the South with a Confederate flag is a raging racist out to enslave all the POC, but you’d be wrong. I know these people and you’re wrong, but whatever. What came next was absurd. A protest formed outside the girl’s home. I don’t know how, but she got doxxed and a mob of protesters began harassing her family and threatening her, right outside her bedroom window.
Full stop. That’s unacceptable. I am not a free speech supremacist. I’ll fight very hard for people to say things that I don’t even agree, but there is a line of decency we do not cross. I don’t believe that speech should happen at someone’s front door. People get crazy and at the snap of a finger can turn a protest into a mob. It was indecent for people to “protest” like that.
In a conversation among Top Writers about how terrible this girl was, where the fact that they were protesting at her house was the context of the article, I pointed out this fact. When a mob is allowed to threaten minors for an Instagram photo, I call the moment. Of course, that opened me up to a barrage of being called a racist. The heck? I wasn’t even supporting the flag. I could care less about the flag. I was just saying to leave the protests out of people’s front yards and don’t think you’re the good guy for terrifying little girls.
Then we get into Black Lives Matter. Look, I’ve read the data, and there are cases where police acted wrongly. Nobody is saying it never happens. But we were asking for people to wait for evidence before stories based on a few unverified facts became major national narratives and the source of outrage for millions. Case in point: Michael Brown, where wild protests followed the “execution” of an innocent black teenager trying to surrender to a murderous racist white cop. As the days went by, there was less and less evidence to support this story, and more that exonerated the police officer. So when we actually had evidence that Brown was doing a lot of stuff he shouldn’t, I was the guy who said something, “Maybe we should wait for some evidence before the riots?”
Oh, how things went South after that. Turns out, I was completely right and that the Department of Justice’s investigation completely proved that Brown attacked the police officer, made no effort to surrender and that the officer was completely in his rights to shoot him. It turns out that the whole “Hands Up; Don’t Shoot” story was completely falsified by the guy who was Brown’s accomplice in the crimes that got him killed. Doesn’t really matter. By this point, we had Top Writers literally saying, and I am directly quoting, “Jon Davis wants people who look like me back picking cotton,” and posting pictures of some random white guy assaulting Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Here’s Jon Davis’ grandpa,” inside Quora answers!
It was insane. Of course, I don’t blame Barack Obama for that directly, but he set the stage for this outrage culture. He normalized outrage culture and never tried to check it as cities went up in riots based on little to no evidence other than narratives of systemic racism.
Then there was the slaying of several police officers at a BLM protest in Dallas. This was it for me. In the speech at the memorial service, many people, myself included, interpreted the President’s words as, “But a lot of cops do bad things too.” It felt, in that moment, that the President of the United States was standing over a funeral where police officers had given their lives protecting people who despised them, and there was a suggestion that the killer was in the slightest way possibly justified because some cops somewhere are bad?
You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to respect my opinion. That’s just the way it sounded to me… as well as millions of other people like me. I know that most people reading this don’t have access to right-wing news, but people were furious that this was being politicized so blatantly and that it happened by way of pushing this notion over the bodies of as-yet-not-buried police officers who died fighting a radicalized terrorist to protect citizens at a protest against them. This was insane. But you’re not allowed to say these things. I know, because repeatedly, those of us who did were bombasted if we were ever critical of anything.
He had a personality cult. That’s what it was. The core of his supporters were a repressive and hateful cult of personality around the man. Whether you call them Social Justice Warriors or whatever, that’s what they were: A cult of ideologues; an extremely vocal minority of his followers with far too much power who used dirty tactics to silence anyone who disagrees with any of their agenda. I’ve never seen anything like it. No one was allowed to be critical of anything he did, what he said, or even the massive and undeniable policy failures he led like pulling out of Iraq. If you ever opened your mouth, you were immediately branded with every hateful, toxic ad hominem meant to smear your reputation so that anything you said no longer mattered. Many good liberals, people who I don’t fault for voting Obama for very good reasons, did nothing about it. I was bitter about that for a while. Many were and still are my friends, but now I think they were just terrified of the SJWs too. Over the last year, many, have come to me silently to say as much.
Again, I can’t blame President Obama for what everything his followers did, but I got sick of the constant feeling of mob tyranny, of a president who was above criticism, and of the feeling that anything I said would get Google to return my name with “he wants people who look like me back picking cotton.” I think that’s what really turned me from simply saying, “I don’t like the President’s politics, but I appreciate his service,” to “I’ll do anything to avoid another eight years of this madness.” It wasn’t him. He seems like a decent human. Good husband. Good father. He seems very fine, and I do appreciate his service to the country. But it was that personality cult of his rabid fanatics.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t think I would very much like Donald Trump as a person. I would have rather had Marco Rubio. I’m still happy I voted for Trump, though. That’s because I didn’t want a nice fella. I wanted someone who would win and who would be a hammer to the fanatics that supported Obama to the point of militancy. I mean that. Militancy. They said and did things I would expect to see in Iraq. Blatant acts of terrorism were ignored or even had the blame pushed to people like me for speaking out. Nothing could be questioned and if you stepped out of line, you were slandered or people threatened to take away your jobs, and often, even real threats of violence. They’re still doing it. What would eight more years of that look like? Would my writing be censored as “hate speech”? Would people who speak like me have thugs show up at my door? Would I be locked up in the gulag?
No. Not cool. The intolerance of these people was enough. I was sick of it.
I may not like Donald Trump as a person, but I love Donald Trump Supporters. I’m their supporter because I know them personally. I grew up with them, and I know their hearts. They’re good people who didn’t deserve the unmitigated treatment they got over those years and continue to receive today. And no matter what kind of a person he is, he spoke for them when everyone, even the other Republicans, ignored them. I didn’t want a nice person out to win the Nobel Prize for making the world feel special. I wanted a hammer.
Short answer: Maybe as an individual, President Obama was a really swell guy, but I felt he was a bad president. Not a communist or a Kenyan born Muslim Manchurian candidate. Not Satan or the anti-christ. Not even the worst President ever, but in the bottom half. I felt he was someone who had a vision of the United States that didn’t reflect reality, made bad policies reflective of that vision, and alienated many when he stirred up the divisive rhetoric to push his vision on us.
I know, I know, you want to tell me about what a terrible person Trump is. Say what you want about Trump, but at least now people are listening to the “flyover states” and the unacceptable behavior by radical left-wing fanatics is finally being called unacceptable by the good Obama voters who I still love as dear friends. Maybe if that had happened years ago, we’d be having a conversation about Marco Rubio. But it didn’t.
That’s why, if we’re being honest with ourselves, most conservatives don’t think Obama was a bad person. It was his core fanatics we couldn’t stand and it was they who helped Trump win the election.
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