O Captain My Captain…

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to say right up front that I voted for President Obama. I bought that Hope & Change stuff, and I believed that he was the answer to what ailed this country. Mostly I felt that the old white Republicans had had their shot. It was time for some new blood, for a new perspective. It was frankly, time for some Hope & Change.

But over the past three years I have watched things in this country go from bad to worse. Now mind you I am fully aware that Obama inherited this recession. On the day he took office this country was hemorrhaging jobs at the rate of 700,000 per month. Before the first stimulus bill could be passed, we had lost 8 million jobs. None of that was his fault – despite what the Republican and Tea parties would have you believe.

But see, here’s the rub. It may not have been his fault, but it sure as hell was his JOB. This country has needed in the past three years – perhaps more than any other time in the past 50 years  – a strong, decisive leader with a plan. What we have had instead is a wishy-washy dreamer who seems to spend most of his time wringing his hands and wishing everyone would get along. That, or announcing his Next Great Plan To Save Us, that never seems to improve anything for us average Americans.

I have already written about my disillusionment with Washington, and with our political process as a whole. The Democrats are no better than the Republicans, and I am disgusted with the bickering and game-playing that goes on there. Lately however I find I am just as frustrated with our President.

I’m not saying I could do a better job mind you. But then again, I don’t have too. I am not the one America put its trust in to steer this ship of ours through the storm. It seems as time has gone by the storm has gotten worse, not better. And our Captain is hiding under his bunk in his stateroom, wishing it all away.

What frustrates me the most is that I don’t see anyone in this early candidate field of Republicans who is any better.  I find myself instead of looking forward to the next election, dreading its arrival. Already the news media is flooded with coverage of the Republican field, and we are still more than a year away from the election. I’m so over it. To Hades with all of them.

My real problem is that I don’t know what to do with all this disillusionment.  I feel so frustrated and pessimistic about the future of this great country that I begin to feel depressed. What’s a guy to do? I mean really? I know, I know – there are many out there who would say “if you don’t like it, change it!” or “express your opinion in the voting booth!”, but that’s the problem. There are no viable alternatives. There is no White Knight on the horizon, riding in to save us all. No Captain Nemo  ready to do battle with the Forces of Evil on our behalf.

We are – all of us – passengers on this ship of State. The Captain is ineffective, and the entire crew is too busy fighting amongst themselves to know or care what happens to us. I don’t know about you, but I think I am ready to don my life jacket, and begin moving in an orderly fashion to the life boats…

I’ll leave you with one last thought for now. A poem that’s always been a favorite of mine, and that came to mind while I wrote this.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

                                                                                      — Walt Whitman

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