Friday night, we saw the flick “The Changling” about a woman’s son who goes missing in 1928 in Los Angeles. Months later, the authorities locate a boy that they claim to be her son even though the evidence that he’s an imposter is undeniable. The woman, Christine Collins, stands up against the Los Angeles Police Department and is placed in a psychiatric ward because of her “delusions” that the boy wasn’t her son. The police and doctor reason that she trying to avoid the responsibility of being a mother. Adding to her lack of credibility is that she’s a single mother who has a job, usually held by a man – a supervisor with the phone company.
I found the movie disturbing not only because of the injustices, but also because of its similarities with today’s political environment. No doubt, we’re in challenging times with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, economic melt-down, high unemployment, undeniable climate change, and threats of pandemics. What’s most troubling, however, is that fractions of American hold beliefs that aren’t based on truths or logic.
Believing America’s deficits suddenly cropped up and worsened as a result of the last twelve months of policy is about as rational as claiming a woman can’t tell the difference between an imposter and her own son. Thinking that a war that’s been going on for longer than World War I and II combined can be wrapped up within twelve months is not just naïve, but preposterous.
Nevertheless, a large percentage of the country sides with Republican leadership and pundits who espouse President Obama is destroying the country with his defense policies, uncontrollable debt, “socialized” medicine, high unemployment, and stifling environmental regulations. They are in denial that when Bush was elevated to dictator-in-chief, there was a budget surplus, low unemployment, funding for social programs, and America wasn’t at war or had poor diplomatic relations with any country.
What’s changed? President Obama, like Christine Collins, doesn’t fit the mold. Collins was a single, successful working woman in an America that had given women the right to vote just eight years earlier. Obama is an accomplished black man in an America that had fifty years earlier permitted racial segregation. Compared to Bush, Obama is articulate, astute, and empathetic. He surrounds himself with intelligent people from all walks-of-life.
Until evidence arose that Collins’ son may have been kidnapped and most likely murdered, her veracity was questioned. In the same vein, Obama’s policies to reform healthcare, put people back to work, exist Iraq and Afghanistan, improve America’s integrity in the world, and tackle environmental issues probably won’t be acknowledged by a large percentage of Americans for decades as the work of a great politician. Instead, they will see it as the folly of a black man.