The Myth of the American President

Yesterday on a day as monotonous and gray as we’ve seen over the past year, I finished reading the book Beloved by Toni Morrison. When the sun rose this morning and the gray clouds returned to their day-shift, I, like many other Americans, tuned into the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr. I distinctly remember Barack Obama’s inauguration when I was a tiny second grader, who only knew my mom had an Obama party and that he was our first black leader. I remember the words hope, unity, equality; these were the words that united moderates and progressives to vote for a supposed common goal. I was so happy to see a black man be sworn into the highest office in the land, I was so excited to see what he would do for our country.

The myth of the American President is that he will work for us. All of our Presidents thus far have been war criminals, ranging from Obama to Reagan. I eventually decided to vote for Joe Biden in a swing state, although extremely reluctantly, knowing I was voting against many things I stand for. A neolib who does not want to enact policy to guarantee healthcare or the future of our environment. An accused rapist… say her name: Tara Reade. 

Harris, who beyond her problematic political history, has compromised some of her good and progressive policy to partner with middle-of-the-road Joe.

I want to be moved by this election. I want to watch Harris with the same tears in my eyes as when I innocently saw Obama swearing in on that Bible. I’ve corrupted myself by learning about corruption. I’ve gained the power to hear what people say behind my back, and now I wish I didn’t have that power. I wish I didn’t eavesdrop and hear that Obama killed Syrian children, Biden attacked Anita Hill, Harris locked up trans-women in male prisons. 

I’ve learned that our system of capitalism is our demise. How can a system built on the exploitation of marginalized people be reconstructed? How can we tape and glue back together a plate that is already shattered. How can we terrorize other elections and inquire about the invasion of ours. 

Toni Morrison in Beloved wrote “Making them think the next sunrise would be worth it; that another stroke of time would do it at last.”

I ended up watching the inauguration. Finding myself trying not to fall victim to the quicksand of the myth of the American Dream. Finding myself trying to battle against the snake squeezing me with false promises. Finding myself knowing that our country’s system and enablers hates so many of its people. 

Celebrate today. I’m serious. Watch Kamala Harris and take this time to realize the power in this moment. But don’t let neoliberalism and polite politics throw you back in the burning hole of apathy. Donald Trump might have been a great white shark with snarling teeth, but more people die from microscopic, invisible parasites like Ronald Regan, one of the most beloved American presidents. 

Tomorrow we go back to work. Fighting against a system that hates us. Fighting for a future where people have the right just to survive.

Published by ellakotsen

student at Bryn Mawr College

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