George Graham

Change is an Elusive Goal



I get calls from the Democratic Party asking me to become involved in this year’s campaign, and I always politely decline. I’m not as frisky as I was back in 2008 when Sandra and I went house to house trying to get out the vote for Barack Obama.

There’s more to my lack of zeal than the legacy of the passing years. I don’t feel the kind of enthusiasm that Obama inspired.

Don’t get me wrong. I am going to vote for the Democratic nominee. I always vote a straight Democratic ticket. But I’m not sure what it means to be a Democrat in 2016.

I was so sure of what a Democrat was back in 2008. Democrats were open minded, fair, compassionate, dedicated to the common good, on the side of America’s better angels. FDR was that kind of Democrat. JFK was that kind of Democrat. Ted Kennedy was that kind of Democrat.

Barack Obama is that kind of Democrat.

But when the time came for the Democrats controlling Congress to back him up, so many elected members of his party showed a different side, a pragmatic, self serving side, the side that would opt for the thirty pieces of silver instead of eternal salvation.

They betrayed America’s first black President. They balked at universal, single-payer health care. They dragged their feet on environmental protection. They cowered before the NRA. They were lukewarm on civil rights. They were concerned about the way the voters back home might  react. Above all, they wanted to get reelected.

With the enormously rich and bitterly antagonistic Republicans prepared to stop at nothing to block the Obama agenda, these compromised Democrats made it impossible to bring about the hope and change that Obama had promised.

And, to make his job even more impossible, he was distracted by the monumental task of rescuing America from the catastrophic Bush depression.

Still, history will undoubtedly conclude that he managed – through almost superhuman grit and perseverance – to leave America a far, far better society than the one he set out to change.

Of course, the job is not finished. There is still a crying need for more change.

I am not sure either Bernie or Hillary will be able to complete the Herculean task that Obama set out to accomplish.

Bernie has all the right rhetoric, but I doubt that he has the tools or the connections he would need. Hillary has the tools and connections but she is acutely aware of the limitations she will have to work around as President.

She has learned from Obama’s experience that the changes we so desperately need must be made incrementally in these United States. There’s no magic wand to get the job done – no quick fix to fire up our imaginations.

Of course either Hillary or Bernie would be a million times better than Donald Trump!!!

Trump would turn back the clock and leave this country in chaos. His legacy would be an America – perhaps the world – in flames.

So I’m voting once again for the party of our better angels, even though I’m not quite as wide-eyed as I was eight years ago.

Click for more on Obama’s presidency

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for