I never did well with disappointment. On Christmas, if I didnâ€™t get what I expected, I found it difficult to be grateful for what I did get (just ask my dad). And while Iâ€™m not proud of this ungrateful trait, at least Iâ€™m aware of it.
In 2008, after Obama was elected, I was expecting a great â€œPolitical Christmas.â€
My wish-list was long: Universal health care, closing Guantanamo, ending Bushâ€™s tax cuts for top earners. Deep down I knew better; Santa isnâ€™t real. But Iâ€™d been good. Iâ€™d put up with eight years of George W. Bush and Obama Claus promised to deliver.
So, you can only imagine my disappointment when Christmas never came.
Now, here we are again. Itâ€™s campaign season, and next week the Obama administration will release its bright, shiny new jobs plan to try to hype everyone up.
And if youâ€™ve listened to any of the buzz from the left in the last week or two, it seems like this is working.
Sure, Obama could present a bold jobs plan. He could come to the table with a progressive, fact-based plan and then negotiate for it with some conviction (imagine that, a Democrat showing some backbone!).
He could. He should. And maybe he will. But donâ€™t be fooled â€“â€“ itâ€™s just campaign season.
And I, for one, am not buying it this time.
In some ways, Iâ€™m excited to see the Obama we got during the campaign of 2008, to see him speak for the progressive cause and to rally his base. But at the end of the day, no matter what he proposes with his jobs plan, or how hard he pretends to fight for it, for me, itâ€™s too little too late.
I mean really, what has Obama done for the left? His base â€“â€“ the people who ran the phone banks â€“â€“ registered the voters, convinced our friends and marched door to door. Theyâ€™re the ones who got him elected in the first place.
He didnâ€™t fight for us when it was time to argue for a public option. Instead, he opted for the despised (and rightly so) individual mandate.
He raised troop levels in Afghanistan by some 50,000 and then had the nerve to brag about bringing 30,000 home.
He failed to close Guantanamo, if you could say he ever even tried. He extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. He caved on all fronts during the unprecedented debt ceiling negotiationsâ€¦ Really, the list could go on.
As for his list of accomplishments for the left, well, itâ€™s much shorter. In fact, itâ€™s so short I must have misplaced it because I canâ€™t find the damn thing anywhere. Iâ€™m told by optimists on the left that there is some good stuff on it, though.
So why, if he hasnâ€™t done anything he promised the first time around, would we vote for him the second?
I should have a good answer to this. But I donâ€™t. And the whole lesser of two evils thing doesnâ€™t count. Even though, at the end of the day, thatâ€™s probably why Iâ€™ll actually cast my vote for Obama. Itâ€™s still not a good reason.
Fortunately for Obama, I was born into a political world of disappointment and futility, conditioning me to understand just how little my vote matters. Not quite old enough to vote in 2000, I watched hopelessly as the Supreme Court handed the election to George W. Bush.
In 2004, my first presidential election as a voter, I watched in despair as my vote was thrown overboard with a thoroughly swift-boated John Kerry and â€œDubyaâ€ won re-election. (At least this time he actually got more votes than the other guy.)
Now, of course Iâ€™ll vote in the 2012 elections. Iâ€™m just that kind of guy â€“â€“ I couldnâ€™t not vote.
But for that generation right behind me â€“â€“ the voters who excitedly cast their first vote for Obama thinking that real change was taking place, that their votes actually mattered â€“â€“ who can blame them when they donâ€™t vote this next time around?
Hell, I already knew there was no Santa and I still got let down.
And while he can count on my vote, you can bet I wonâ€™t be sending Obama my $50. I wonâ€™t be at the phone banks or knocking on doors. And something tells me, Iâ€™m not the only one.
Maybe all those independents heâ€™s been trying to appease will take our place.
_Jesse Benn is a senior political science major who still has his dadâ€™s car keys. His column appears on Thursdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. _