2008 was the year that Obama first stepped into the picture as a potential president. It was also the year I graduated high school. I turned 18 that year, and I was excited for the campaign, and especially excited because it was the first time I could vote (plus, the new president could be the first minority!). I remember listening to Obama with enthusiasm as he talked about wanting a change in America. His motto, “Yes, we can!” was very encouraging and moving to me. I trusted him wholeheartedly, and I knew that he would be a great president, that he would stand out among all of them.
After the first four years, I wanted him out of the picture. But he never left. Instead, he ran again and won again, although more people voted for his opponent. He said he’d created thousands of new jobs (most of which were construction jobs, jobs that someone as small as me could never do), and that unemployment had dropped (although that was only because more people stopped searching for work). He also said that he was going to force young people like me to pay a lot of money every month for health insurance, but that someone as young as me can stay on our parents’ insurance till we’re 26 years old. Wait! What about many of those in poverty, whose parents never had insurance themselves? What about a young student that makes about $5,000 a year, or $450 a month, probably less? What about someone like me whose only health concern is mental health? What has Obama done for people like me? Nothing! After so many things that have happened during his campaign, such as the IRS scandal, those reasons were enough for me to dislike him.
The NSA spying program just threw me off.
My mom has been telling me for such a long time that Obama’s government has been spying on unwitting citizens like us, listening to our phone calls, reading our e-mails and searching through our Facebook accounts. For a long time, I didn’t want to believe her. I mean, just because you read something on the Internet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true, right? Plus, Obama is a great president, so why would he do anything like that?
And then news broke, making headlines worldwide. I woke up on the morning of June 6th and checked my e-mail. One of the first things I saw was from The New York Times: “U.S. Is Secretly Collecting Records of Verizon Calls,” and my world shattered; my mother was right.
However, I had heard these suggestions so many times, that soon I forgot all about them. Today, though, when I got off work, my mother met me; she was in tears. I had no idea what had happened…somebody in our family died or something?? But instead, she started talking about someone called Edward Snowden, who was the source of the NSA leak. He is currently in hiding in Hong Kong, afraid for his life. When I had first read the headlines, I thought, “What? The government is admitting this?” But it had never occurred to me that it was another human being that had revealed this, risking his entire life.
Snowden, a 29-year-old young man, who worked for the NSA, gave up a wonderful, comfortable life in Hawaii, making a six-digit salary, just so I can know the truth about what the government has been doing for six years. Obama told everyone at a press conference that everyone knew about these secret programs. Everyone but the general public, which is the target of these programs. Yes, some people suspected that this was happening. But now there is proof, and the government even admits it! Proof and admission change everything. At least, it changes it for me. It makes me start to question why I am even in this country.
Five years ago, Obama’s campaign was on giving all Americans civil liberties. But the administration has done the opposite…it has repressed civil liberties. True, perhaps it has given a few more people the right to get married. However, I don’t feel like I have been given any more liberty than I had before this administration (namely, when I was under 18). I’m sure no one else does either. Obama’s campaign was about change. Yes, everything has changed with the administration. But mostly in a bad way. More people are being repressed than before this administration. Obama’s campaign’s motto was “Yes, We Can!” Apparently he means that “we,” the government, can and will suppress you, regular Americans, even more than you have been suppressed in the past. Why did I ever like him? I should have known that everything he said in his campaign was a lie! How did I ever fall for it?
I think that Snowden is an American hero. He risked his entire life just so his fellow Americans are better informed on what their government, the government that is supposed to work for them (at least, that’s what I learned in high school…perhaps the U.S. government is also making the teachers lie to their students), is doing to them. If Snowden is reading this, I would like to tell him that he is one of the bravest men I have ever heard of! There are so many Americans, and so many people around the world, that love him, even if this government wants to execute him. I hope he finds political asylum in Hong Kong, or Russia, or any other safer country there is. My mother told me that this was the first time she has ever heard of anyone fleeing the United States and seeking political asylum in another country. I will pray for you, Snowden, if you believe in that kind of thing.
After so long believing that I could actually trust Obama to run this country correctly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to trust any president again. I also have even more hope in my generation, that young people can make a difference if we all come together and try. For a long time, I always felt that older, “wiser” people ruled the world. But in actuality, the entire world changed in a single night because of one, hard-thought-out action of a young man just trying to do the right thing.
Anyway, this was just a quick rant that I just had to get off my chest after learning more of the particulars of this whole thing. Later, I might post a more civilized post on what I feel about this issue.