Everyone was expecting Barak Obama to be some sort of savour to the black people of the US, claiming to bring hope to the many, but that's all it was.
Thia article's title is a cross between Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jeckyll and Mister Hyde and Obama's heritage. Obama was hailed as being the first black president of the US, on the back of his
Yes we can. message of hope for change, leading many African-American and white liberals to think that we were seeing a new USA in the making, where the long-held promise of some equality of opportunity was finally coming home to roost.
Of course, the racists hadn't suddenly gone away, but felt more emblazoned to be more public about it, so they took every opportunity to attack and weaken Obama's policy agenda, while mounting personal attacks upon him and questioning his authority and legitimacy. These activities certainly laid the groundwork for discontent among those who had expected that white people would remain at the head of US politics, and contributed heavily to the popularity of Donald Trump and mass belief in his lies about the 2020 election.
However, if Obama had actually fulfilled what was promised, a lot of that discontent would have been dissipated as many of the white voters would have seen the benefits in their lives compared to all the empty promises of most politicians. Instead we saw that there was nothing really radical about his politics, and certainly much less than what was required to bring about enough systemic change in the US to set it on the path to repair of its racial and social inequality.
But it was his utter failure to deal with the causes of the global financial crisis that showed he was nothing more than a lackey of a privileged system that he was very much part of. Figuratively, rather than being the black figurehead of a new, rational and equitable US political-economic system, he was the face of the ugly white political machine that protected the wealthy and let everyone else fend for themselves. Politically, not Dr Jekyll, but Mr Hyde.
In those choices, Obama dashed the hopes of many, pushing them into the hands of populists like Trump who seemed to have some street credentials because they were seemingly not part of the obviously corrupt political establishment. Of course, Trump was as corrupt as they come and had absolutely no empathy for the hard done by, who he considered losers, but he knew he could manipulate them and more powerful political operators knew they could manipulate him. Obama had opened the door for the US to become worse than better, betraying everything he campaigned on.
Since his presidency, we have seen what he is really about. While speaking on a political show, he commented that phrases like defund the police lose a big part of the potential audience as soon as its said. Of course he knew what it really meant and even all its vocal critics knew exactly what it really meant, but he gave credence to those critics rather than call out their hypocrisy. He trivialised the emotional drivers of it as if a folksy restating of it would work in the face of the support for police brutality. He was just sentimental air rather than the thunder that was wanted.
It takes more than skin colour to really be an embodiment of the hopes and dreams of a generation. Many saw Obama's blackness and assumed that he was fit for being the symbol of that hope. Ends out that that was a delusion, as the surface is not automatically a reflection of deeply help beliefs and a lot of heartfelt sentiments are not a substitute for the courage to really stand up for what one professes. The presidency is a very tough job, but who is allowed to be there needs to have the steely resolve to actually work for the betterment of the country, and not just the privileged in it.