I have a dream. I mean no disrespect to Martin Luther King. But my dang dream won't go away either. Naivete, writ large, I suppose. You decide.
Barack Obama is on camera, reading an important, carefully crafted policy speech from the teleprompter. The words have been chosen to appease the political middle without inflaming the polar political opposites – which, as we all know, is a thankless and largely useless task.
Obama has just smoothly articulated a particularly cogent point. As is his way, he pauses and looks deeply into the camera lens.
He opens his mouth to continue his speech. Suddenly, he looks down, shakes his head, and then looks back up at the camera. The veil of presidential poise and posturing is gone. What’s happening? Is he okay?
“I can’t do this. Can. Not. Turn off the teleprompter now. Right now.” He is, after all, the president, and he can say that.
America holds its breath. Is he going to say he’s not running for re-election? Is he resigning? We shush everyone in our TV rooms and listen intently.
“I cannot recite one more scripted conglomeration of high-minded talking points to a nation that is fractured and in pain. I can’t stand up here and speechify right over your heads when you hired me to be straight with you. When I was running for office, I said Washington needs to trust the people. I said that Americans deserve honesty and transparency. However, in 2009, I began campaigning for re-election in 2012, even as I assumed leadership of this country. And walking the middle road became the norm, no matter the outcome.
“You all know what happened after that. The Republicans pledged allegiance to Grover Norquist and John Boehner. They took their marching orders from the Koch brothers and Wall Street. They formed a posse with one primary goal: Bring down Obama. He is black and he has power, neither of which is acceptable to us. Bring. Him. Down. No matter what happens to the United States of America, bring him down. And with him, bring down the liberals and their egalitarian ways.
“Did I say ‘egalitarian’? I did, didn’t I? What I mean is that, in the eyes of the radical right, anything that smacks of fairness and equality is unacceptable. They call it socialism. But what they really mean is that it’s bad for them. Even as they claim to want unity, Republicans thrive on a nation divided. Rich versus poor. The powerful versus the vulnerable. That’s absolutely wrong.
“People, it is time for this president to stop pussy-footing around and speak out for you.”
Obama pauses. He takes off his tailored suit coat and his tie, and drops them on the floor. He rolls up his shirt sleeves. He leans into the podium, grasping its sides with his hands, and looks into the camera again.
“From this moment forward, none of this is about re-electing Barack Obama. I won’t play that game any more. It’s about doing the right thing. Telling the truth. Engaging you in this uncivil war that is destroying our country. Taking America back from the brink. I am absolutely serious about this. There is too much at stake to continue playing gotcha. Too much at stake to allow politicians to game the system. Too much at stake to smack down the 99%, over and over again.
“I am through playing this game. You elected me, you hired me, to do right by you. You have my solemn promise that I will try, all day, every day, to do that. And I’ll keep you in the loop.”
Then I wake up.