Four years. That’s how long it’s almost been since President Barack Obama left the White House. Sometimes, I get a whiff of 2016 and relish in its crisp and lingering scent of hope — something many of us from underrepresented communities have been deprived of these last few years.
It’s been so long since he’s addressed the nation as president, but I, along with many other people, can’t get accustomed to a country without his guidance. We are still mourning his departure from office four years later; many of us are still climbing through the grieving process.
Denial? I went through that already. Fun stage, isn’t it? Tried to bargain? Oh, yes. Was I depressed? Yes, but that’s part of me at this point. Did I get angry? Of course, and still am. How about acceptance? Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves now!
Presidents come and go. That’s the beauty of democracy. We are taught that in school, yet it feels different this time around. Why? No, it has nothing to do with a sense of “entitlement” (what the hell is that anyway?) of my generation or the inability to accept a loss. Trust me. As a young adult who has been broke most of her life, I’m used to this feeling. So, believe me when I say that not getting our preferred presidential candidate to lead us is not the issue. It’s deeper than that.
I have been trying to pinpoint exactly what it was that I miss from the Obama years. It is important not to romanticize him, as it often happens when we think of someone we admire. He also allowed problematic things to happen, although not half as bad as what this current administration is doing.
So, I made sure not to place him on a pedestal.
What is it then? What was I yearning for? When I heard him giving his eulogy for the late John Lewis,’ it all clicked. What I miss (and I believe we all miss) is having a president who is capable of expressing humanity.
“Capable” being the keyword here. The administration we are forced to deal with at the moment has stripped away many of the protections needed for our survival. Don’t think I’ll ever forget signing into the White House’s website a few hours after this administration took over and seeing all the resources for the LGBTQ+ community wiped away. Or waking up to incomprehensible tweets from the person who is meant to be in charge of the most influential country in the world. Hearing about his atrocious behavior towards immigrants and those who are willing to stand by him makes me ashamed of living in a country shifting towards a dictatorial government.
It makes no sense to me that we have a president accused by more than 20 women of sexual abuse and who has not yet been held accountable. He grabbed all of us by our womanhood, and it was not consensual. There’s so much wrong with this administration, but more mind-boggling is his refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing or even try to utter words of consolation to any of us. You can’t just upend life-altering policies and not show compassion. That’s management skills, 101.
You would think a country like the United States would give people some peace of mind and not debilitating anxiety. He is the cause of what most of us in the Latinx community know as “pena ajena.”
And then Obama graced us again with his presence and his words. During Lewis’ eulogy, Obama’s eyes comforted the nation every time he closed them as if in prayer. His subtle, yet effective tone of voice, embraced those watching, even miles away. Hearing Obama speak is akin to having La Rosa de Guadalupe’s breeze envelope you. It’s breathtaking. He understands that how we say something matters as much as what we say. His message rolled from his tongue elegantly, yet one couldn’t help but wonder if some of his words were aimed towards the White House. What a fine individual.
Watching him, I realized that the nation’s luck had dissipated once empathy became absent from the presidential office.
“So many of us lose that sense. It’s taught out of us. We start feeling as if, in fact, we can’t afford to extend kindness or decency to other people. That we’re better off if we’re above other people and looking down on them, and so often that’s encouraged in our culture,” Obama said.
Sense? That would be a great start.
We want a president who can express themselves properly while uplifting the nation. Obama reminds us, time and again, of what we need to unite as Americans and heal our country’s wounds. Democracy isn’t automatic, and it has to be nurtured, he said during the eulogy.
But, even snakes are more nurturing than the person currently trying to guide this nation. The truth is, the U.S. could benefit from some nurturing right about now. Our people are dying, police brutality is part of our reality, and people can barely afford to pay rent. We need change. We need hope. It’s in times like these that we long for inclusive and beneficial measures to the greater majority.
We yearn for someone to provide us with comfort. Obama never missed a beat trying to empathize with the nation. He wore his compassion as gracefully as he did his tan suit. It’s been almost four years since he left the White House, but he’s not left our hearts. He remains as present as ever. I’m sure many of you can agree with me when I say that we wouldn’t want it any other way.