By The Bakersfield Californian
Barack Obama ran a brilliant presidential campaign in 2008. His mantra of "Hope and Change" and his slogan "Yes We Can!" resonated with a dispirited electorate mired in an economic recession and fed up with the Bush administration specifically and Washington, D.C, generally. His message was seductive but it was not the reason he was elected. Obama gave no specific plans about how he was going to bring about the hope and change he espoused. By omission, he left a blank canvas on which each person could "paint" their own expectations. It was the collective individual expectations that created his often-referenced "messianic" aura, which led to his election. In concert with the national mainstream media's failure to properly vet him -- as Tom Brokaw told interviewer Charlie Rose in October 2008, "We don't know a lot about Barack Obama" -- Obama masterfully campaigned and we optimistically elected our first biracial president. He was going to:
* Be post-partisan, heal the racial divide, and be the great unifier.
* Bring the greatest minds in business and industry into his administration to turn the economy around.
* Have the most transparent administration in history.
* Be accountable to Congress and the people.
* Make the U.S. more energy independent.
* Lower unemployment to 5 percent with his stimulus programs and "shovel ready" jobs.
* Cut the annual budget deficit in half ($500 billion at the time) and begin to reduce the national debt.
While I strongly disagree with his pseudo-Marxist ideology, I do grant that he truly thought he was capable of accomplishing most of the above. Unfortunately for the country, his belief was grounded in arrogance, naivete, and a failure to recognize his lack of experience and shortcomings. The last four years' attention has been focused on Obama the man and not on the needs of America. As a result, Obama should have lost on Nov. 6 because:
* Congress is more partisan than ever, the country is more polarized, and the racial divide is wider.
* He surrounded himself with academic and political cronies for their counsel on the economy, several of whom have resigned out of frustration.
* Transparency was replaced by his unprecedented number of "czar" appointments, bypassing the normal scrutiny of Congress.
* Instead of accountability, his party, which controlled both houses of Congress for the first two years of his first term, rammed through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) using questionable legislative maneuvering against the majority will of the people. His administration announced its refusal to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. He shielded Attorney General Eric Holder from congressional investigation of his role in the "Fast and Furious" scandal by invoking executive privilege.
* He blocked the Keystone pipeline from transporting oil from Canada to our refineries in Texas; his Environmental Protection Agency implemented cap and trade regulations, further hampering energy production; gasoline prices have more than doubled from $1.85 per gallon when he took office.
* The unemployment rate is higher at 7.9 percent today than the 7.8 percent when he took office, exceeding 8 percent for 43 consecutive months in between.
* The annual budget deficit has exceeded $1 trillion each of his four years in office (doubling the $500 billion he inherited), causing the national debt to increase by almost 50 percent to more than $16 trillion.
In light of the above combined with Mitt Romney's vast business and leadership experience and a more presidential demeanor, it seemed logical Obama would lose. The president ran another brilliant campaign, however, by dodging his failure to deliver on his promises and by defining Romney as an uncaring elitist out of touch with the great middle class. The main reason Obama won was not due to demographics as many have surmised. It was because of the growing number of people looking to the government for their well-being.
After all, who doesn't like Santa Claus?
Angelo A.Haddad, a lifelong resident of Bakersfield, holds a Master of Science degree in financial services and is a 47-year veteran in that industry. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words.