Congratulations, President Obama, you finally found your Presidential voice! Such a shame that it came so late.

It was a great speech-probably your best SOTU-employing powerful, statesmanlike language and stroking progressive ideals to the brink of political orgasm. Yes, it was a terrific speech; and it should be because the way things are looking, it’s likely to be your last.

This year, it’s easy to throw out a bunch of great ideas and bold initiatives, backed with powerful rhetoric; you’re talking to a congress that has already vowed to do nothing. But beyond the applause and standing O’s, past the bright Source4 spotlights and television cameras, there are legions of lamenting liberals, a plethora of pissed-off progressives, and an assload of angry Americans who are having trouble pairing the leadership in your language with the awkwardness of your administration.

For three years you’ve portrayed yourself as stumbling buffoons, unsure of your agenda. Your message has been fragmented and murky. Your communications have been guarded and timid. Your domestic policy wandering and perfunctory. We have come to expect very little from you in terms of actual leadership, and it shows in how easily Republicans have been able to effectively frame every – single – issue, successfully derailing your game plan before you’ve even left the huddle.

It will be even easier to point to Republicans throughout this election year and say, “They won’t let me do anything;” to blame them for those ideas once again dying on the vine. And you won’t be lying either. It will be their fault. But you knew it would be, which I think is why you saved such language and lofty ideals for now. This year, it’s to your advantage to make us all feel warm and drunkenly hopeful on words alone, leaving action for a second term. Meanwhile your goal of 270 electoral votes depends on the “us vs. them” that has been so fostered and pass bills or not, either way it’s a win for your campaign.

Don’t get me wrong Mr. President, I hope it works. I hope those ideas are sold to every single American and they pressure their representatives and senators to send those bills to your desk. I hope they heed your call to put partisanship aside and work together for the sake of the American people. And since it would finally put some more progressive feathers in your cap, it might even solidify my vote for you.

But I know how smart you are. And though this term hasn’t shown it much, you’re politically astute as well. You knew what this year was going to be like, and that makes me all the more skeptical of how much you mean in what you say, how much you really want those things to happen, or how much you’re banking on them not.

Your words are great, Mr. President. But they’re not why I voted for you. I voted for effective and meaningful change, for our environment, for justice, and for open government. I voted for financial reform, and consumer protection, and for reversing the plutocratic trends I have witnessed my entire life. I voted hoping that we might begin to undo the mistakes of the past 28 years and perhaps even make some progress on some important, long-ignored problems. Rhetoric can be a powerful motivator, but I voted for action. Powerful speech may sound the charge of the campaign, but the fields of governance are littered with hollow promises and the perceived plight of the masses.

I do not disparage your right to great oratory. But it will take more than words to win my vote, to improve the lives of most Americans, or to propel you into a second term. We’re desperate, sir, teetering on despair. Only action and true leadership can set us on firm ground again.

I want to believe in you Mr. President. I’m just not sure how much you want me to.

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