On Wednesday, President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech by addressing a large crowd from the very spot where Dr. King stood in 1963. Although Obama's remarks properly commemorated and memorialized King's oratory fifty years before, yesterday's speech was akin to a magic show, featuring Barack Obama as The Great Pretender, complete with smoke and mirrors to deceive the gullible audience. Sure, there were some powerful and meaningful words in the address, but that's part of the magic that made it seem more captivating than it really was and that's what kept most people from seeing what was really there. You see, Barack Obama is the President of the United States. And he's not just an ordinary president with ordinary constitutional powers, but one who keeps floating the idea that he would act without congressional approval if it were up to him (except in regard to Syria where the president will directly violate the Constitution by attacking a nation without approval from Congress.) This president wants more power, but fails to utilize his power for the good of the people.
Unlike Martin Luther King, Jr. who was merely a messenger calling for greater social and governmental action on civil rights, Barack Obama actually has the power to change the conditions of his country. Dr. King could not introduce legislation into Congress or sign executive orders or approve bills submitted to his desk. King was about as powerless as Rush Limbaugh, another man with a large following and a powerful message but without any political authority to address the problems concerning our current president. Yet, Barack Obama stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and pretended to be a bystander, a powerless messenger calling for greater action and expressing his dismay at the troubles that still hold the country back from reaching its full potential. He spoke as would a man who had no say in the matter, hoping that others will take up the responsibility of making important decisions. There's a significant difference between a civil rights leader like King inspiring the masses and calling for greater political action and a powerful president with a fawning media who actually has the ability to directly impact the lives of his people but does nothing. In other words, King marched while Obama sits in a chair and wonders why things haven't changed for the better.
Of course, we know why Obama decided to appear as The Great Pretender instead of the President of the United States. Had he addressed the crowd as a sitting president, he would have had to take responsibility for some of the current challenges not only of African-Americans but of Americans in general. He would have had to explain why black unemployment is soaring under his watch, why businesses are shutting down or laying off workers due to his health care plan, why racial tensions are increasing due to his party's alliance with the Race Industry. In his speech yesterday, the president remarked that African-Americans of Dr. King's time were "seeking jobs as well as justice, not just the absence of oppression but the presence of economic opportunity. For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can't afford the meal?" That's one question that the president probably didn't want to answer on his own, for what policies has he embraced that will give people the ability to earn a living and to become truly free and independent?
Obama stated that, "For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate. Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence." A powerful reminder of the current state of America, indeed, but remember that Obama has been the President of the United States for half of that decade! Yet The Great Pretender spoke about these problems as though he had no say in the matter, a concerned citizen asked to take the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and say a few words about America in 2013, but certainly not as a president with the power that Dr. King would not have squandered or flouted.
Barack Obama needs to put away the mirrors of deception and take some responsibility for the country that he leads. He needs to stop blaming Republicans and Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, all of which combined have not one iota of the political power that this one man holds in his hands. He needs to explain to the African-American community why he has let Dr. King's dream die and why he has supported policies that inhibit economic growth. This country needs a great president, not a great pretender. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this president should give people real hope instead of the hope and change that has left millions of people wondering if the American dream even exists any longer. If the president really wants to honor Dr. King's work, he should support policies that will truly provide people with economic opportunities so that we can not only sit at the lunch counter together but can afford to buy our own lunch with our own hard-earned money. In three years, The Great Pretender will give his final show, but his legacy will not be able to deceive people in the future from remembering the first black president as a man who failed to build upon King's legacy.