Can Leftover Obama “Hope” Make Bernie Sanders a True Contender Against Hillary Clinton?

Obama hope, Bernie Sanders Hope, Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton, the truth about Barack Obama, Obama was never a progressive
Is “hope” going to take over reality again in 2016? The great spinster poet, Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Hope is emotional. Hope never demands anything of you, as the poem goes. But leftover Obama “hope” apparently springs eternal and Bernie Sanders has filled the jagged hole that has grown in the hearts of those early Obama supporters.

Can you feel the fear? Hillary Clinton supporters are having a bad flashback and I’ve got the shakes. Why? FBI investigations over Hillary’s emails, private servers and, of course, Benghazi.

And now there’s Bernie. The independent quasi-socialist Vermont Senator swoops over this presidential primary like a vulture waiting to feed off of a pantsuit carcass.

Los Angeles supporters swooned over him in a shockingly large crowd of 15,000 progressive people. Bless their beating hearts.

As a Hillary supporter, I watched the Obama rallies of 2008 that attracted tens of thousands and, to tell you the truth, I thought they were religious revivals. The crowd was swooning and women actually fainted; no he didn’t hit them on the forehead, he didn’t have to. He just spoke.

Barack Obama’s buoyant words lifted people up and out of the George W. Bush-era depression. Watching the Jesus-like joy spread from supporter to supporter I had to merge my understanding of progressive liberals as a group that usually eschewed organized religion with my new understanding that the human spirit has a deep need for spirituality. The progressives of 2008 wanted a messiah to save them and Obama was The One.

Back in 2008, I discussed the Obama phenomenon with a Hillary supporting friend. She said to me, “It doesn’t matter if he’s inexperienced as long as he’s not,” and she raised her fingers in air quotes and shook them trembling with fear, “her.” 

Hillary supporters were trying to get “her” elected president and we were watching many people fall in love with “him.” We remember the rapid dismantling of Hillary’s front runner status by Obama due to speeches, cable talking heads, switching super delegates, progressive hate for Hillary and one four letter word: Hope.

Is “hope” going to take over reality again in 2016? The great spinster poet, Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Hope is emotional. Hope never demands anything of you, as the poem goes.

We knew Obama was never as liberal as the hopefuls proclaimed him to be. We had done the research, read the articles and did the work journalists are supposed to do, but for the most part, weren’t doing. We read about Exelon, Grove Parc, and Tony Rezko. We read everything about the FISA vote. We weren’t in love.

Don’t remember those events? Then let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?


In 2006, tritium, a radioactive nuclear by-product, turned up in drinking water south of Chicago and the residents were screaming. They got even louder when it was revealed that the executives at the plant, owned by Exelon, kept quiet instead of announcing their mistake. Obama convinced the residents that he was their champion because he was going to write a bill to force the nuclear plants to disclose leaks and not hide them from the public.

But Obama was between a reactor and a hard place. Some of his biggest fundraisers for his political career were executives from Exelon. Obama’s bill was just too hot for Exelon and they were going to cool it down. So, Obama, knowing where his bread was buttered, rewrote the bill to Exelon’s delight and, according to one official involved, “The teeth were just taken out of it.”

In the revised legislation, instead of requiring the company to disclose a nuclear leak, it was requested that they use their best judgment. Obama blamed having to neutralize the legislation on Republicans. The bill never even made it to the senate floor; it was “shelved.” The boys in the back room were happy and even after Obama became President, Exelon lobbyists had “unusual access to the White House meetings.”

Obama was no Erin Brockovich.

Grove Parc and Tony Rezko

The phrase “bleeding heart liberal” comes from progressive empathy for the poor. This is a fine quality. Yet, when Obama was a state senator of Illinois he believed strongly in a public/private partnership for low income housing. In fact, he co-authored an Illinois law that enabled tax credits to to be given to private companies in order to build low income housing. And build them they did, but they were disastrous.

The Boston Globe published an impressive investigative article about Grove Parc Plaza which was partly in Obama’s district, in fact hundreds of these housing projects were in Obama’s district. But Grove Parc was special. It not only received federal funds, it was managed by Obama’s political fundraiser Tony Rezko. But Tony was a bad manager, even though he was being paid with federal money. Grove Parc was such a nightmare that the residents protested.

One of the protest organizers, Paul Johnson, was asked if Obama knew about the terrible conditions at Grove Parc, “Of course he knew. He just didn’t care.”

I don’t remember that fact being on NPR.

In a 2008 South Carolina debate, Obama accused Hillary of being a corporate hack who was once on Walmart’s board. In response, Hillary cast this zinger – “I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.”

Her supporters loved it and his supporters booed. I wonder if the Obama faithful know that Rezko was later convicted of corruption and extortion in other dealings in 2011 or that Obama’s ties to him have been much more deep than usually reported? Rezko has only recently been released from prison to a halfway house.


Some of those beating liberal hearts fibrillated briefly after Obama flipped on his Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) position. FISA has a long history in the United States, but it was the executive mandates ordered by President George W. Bush that swept up citizen’s private correspondence and phone calls in the aftermath of 9/11, that caused a huge outcry in 2005.

It was revealed that AT&T was handing over people’s private communications to the NSA.

Again the hordes were screaming. Over 40 lawsuits on behalf of citizens were filed. In July of 2008, a bill to amend and expand FISA also provided “legal immunity” for AT&T in its unconstitutional role as provider of the people’s private communications to the NSA. Again, Obama was one of us and he vigorously condemned Bush’s position on FISA and even threatened a filibuster.

Inexplicably, that all changed on the day of the vote. Obama gave the bill a big sloppy wet one with a yes vote. AT&T was his new BFF.

Progressives were so angry with Obama he had to try and explain away his vote. Weakly, he said, “Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay.”

Hillary’s vote was a firm “no.” “Congress must vigorously check and balance the president even in the face of dangerous enemies and at a time of war. That is what sets us apart. And that is what is vital to ensuring that any tool designed to protect us is used – and used within the law – for that purpose and that purpose alone” she said.

At the Democratic National Convention in 2008, after the FISA vote, AT&T threw a grand party at the convention. Obama may have sold his soul to the corporate store, but he didn’t go away empty handed. He got tote bag swag from the convention emblazoned with both the AT&T and DNC logos.

Surprisingly, online Obama-supporting progressives, although angered by his vote, accused Hillary of voting against the bill just to show Obama up. This was indicative of the dysfunctional relationship with their beloved. In other words, if your boyfriend had an affair would you forgive him and blame the girl who slept with him? They were ready to “forgive” Obama in a way they never were able to “forgive” Hillary for being cheated on.

The FISA vote was significant. Since that day, wiretapping and secrecy is more pervasive under President Obama than it was under Bush II. Our country has changed significantly in terms of privacy rights for citizens and not for the better.

Love is blind and we all got screwed.

Some progressives have always pointed to Goldman Sachs contributions to Hillary as proof she was corporatist – a reason to hate “her.” Yet, Goldman Sachs also was Obama’s BFF in 2008, not Hillary’s. There are few who acknowledge that. After Obama became president, progressives forgave him for not sending Wall Street bankers to jail for the economic crisis.

So forgive me if I laugh when I hear the once hopeful supporters say that Obama “changed.” No, he didn’t change. The president we have is the senator and the state senator we had. It’s just that sometimes when you are in love you can’t see the facts and flaws of the beloved.

Yet, this leftover “hope” apparently springs eternal and Bernie Sanders has filled the jagged hole that has grown in the hearts of those early Obama supporters.

Bernie Sanders’ rallies remind me of those early Obama days — so many Democrats see him as a progressive superhero, yet forget or ignore the aspects of his record that show he is not the pure progressive many want him to be. Do his uber-fans know that Bernie voted against the Brady Handgun Violence Bill? Does that bother the hopefuls or is it OK, because even if his record isn’t perfect, at least he isn’t, (trembling air quotes,) “her.”

Politicians are not saviors. Saviors are only found in only one place – church. I don’t mean to rub it in and I know I won’t get a, “you were right” as I point out the things that were hiding in plain sight about Obama, as well as Sanders.

After all, love means never having to say you’re sorry.

Jennifer Hall Lee is a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. She has spent many years working on Hollywood films,  in visual effects, and used her free time (when she had it!) making her own films. Her latest film, “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” is being distributed nationally and more public screenings are upcoming including the Feminism in London Conference! Jennifer was named Global Ambassador for the Global Media Monitoring Project. To schedule an interview with Jennifer or book her as a speaker, she can be reached at

Image via Wikimedia Commons/CC License/by Autopilot

  • Mike Rost

    So, logically…
    if “she” weighs less than a duck…
    then “he” is made of Hope..
    and therefore….

  • Terry Leonarz

    Obama won. Get over it. Hope is what brought the ACA to fruition. Something Democrats (and a few Republicans!) had been trying to accomplish since Teddy Roosevelt’s days. Something Hillary summarily failed to do, as First Lady. She has never understood hope. Spite? Well . . .

    • SophieCT

      Glad you didn’t let us all down and actually provide context for the quote. Still race-baiting after all these years. /s

    • johnsmart

      also what’s wrong with support from white Americans? Sheesh. #Whitevotesmatter. snark..

      also vote here:

    • johnsmart

      also dude, your cheap, shitty lack of context is actually racist. classic progressive race baiting which is bigotry period.

  • johnsmart

    Worry about Biden , not Sanders. No matter what happened before.. .Bernie is just not Obama. Obama made well fed white/sexist progressives (otherwise knowns as “The American media”) moist. He was “articulate” and black. They went nuts for him because white progressives love using a handy black person as a bobble whenever possible. Obama was actually smart enough to know this. He used them expertly. got loads of money. Kinda ditched their priorities the moment he won. (Larry Summers hired, Campaign finance and single payer flushed.and that was before he even took office. )Throw in “community organizer” and white progressives essentially thought they’d died and gone to heaven with Obama. He made the entire Whole Foods Nation of gated community white liberals dizzy with latent daddy resentments. Sanders, on the other hand, is too white and new yorky for them to get really excited.. The Sanders bump is more akin to Howard Dean than Barack Obama. …chances are low that he can expand past the well fed white progressive set. Ya need AA voters in South Carolina and Hispancis in Nevada. And middle class whites everywhere else. Biden CAN get those votes… Sanders probably never will. Vermont is not America.

  • streettrash

    I voted for Obama because he’s intelligent. Obama has also lived up to most of his campaign promises. I’m not going to waste my time pointing out how difficult the situation was when he began and defending all his decisions. Just know that history will look kindly on Obama. probably you will even pretend you always liked him at some point.

    Hillary lost because she voted for Iraq war. She deserved to lose and I’m glad she lost. Bernie scares me because we have an historical president in the WH who has done a great job, and the guy seems oblivious. Makes me think he’s not too intelligent.

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