May 28th (Castleton, VT) – When the undergraduate student union at Castleton University voted to have the President of the United States be their commencement speaker, no one seriously expected the invitation to be accepted and the leader of the free world to appear before them at their little-known small liberal arts college in the middle of the woods of Vermont.
But the soon-to-be-graduates were in for a seemingly delightful surprise when the White House unexpectedly accepted their proposal! The only hitch was that due to scheduling conflicts, the University would need to push out the date of the actual ceremony to accommodate the President. Given the prestige and attention such an event would give the campus, the University acquiesced. Of course, as with all things dealing with this Commander-in-Chief, what they expected to get and what the President intended to deliver were two totally different things.
While most people among the student body and the employees of the University were envisioning a rousing oration on their future potential and the opportunities available to them, the President wanted to talk about patriotism and tribalism—and specifically, getting over it. As the President said to the crowd:
We must not just approve or disapprove of a President, a member of Congress, any politician, or really any other human being in totality based upon their affiliation. We must instead not only judge every person individually, but also evaluate each one of their unique actions on its own merits.
After this, the President began to challenge the beliefs of the majority of the audience. Castleton University has a well-documented diversity program that has led to one of the most widely representative faculties in the entire country, especially in relation to women and minorities given the demographics of the area. However, the one place where there is a lack of breadth is in politics, notably that over 88% of the staff are members of the Democratic Party. This is far above the national average of 30%, and even the Vermont average of 57%. As such, it made the campus the perfect ground to contest the image of former-President Barack Obama being an icon of liberal ideals.
Current President Lambasts Obama for Not Living Up to Image
There was a President who campaigned on “hope and change”. And thus, the people who voted for him did just that, choosing based on their own enthusiasm. But they should have listened with their ears and not their dreams. They should have paid attention to what he actually said and not what they wished would come to pass.
These were the opening remarks the current occupant of the White House made regarding a former tenant named Barack Obama. President Obama is seen as a bastion of liberal principles, even shepherding through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that ensured health insurance for all Americans, a program long pursued by liberals. He also oversaw the implementation of new policies like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that protected people who were brought to this country as children from being deported. These were among a small handful of effective progressive actions that Obama undertook while sitting in the Oval Office.
Yet the person presently inhabiting that chair seemed to be inclined to break people out of the illusion that Obama was everything that progressive minds desired. For instance, on the campaign trail in 2007, then-Senator Obama was quite clear that he did not support marriage equality for LGBTQ+ people, but instead wanted a separate “strong civil union” that conferred similar rights. This piqued the modern President’s ire:
LGBTQ+ people should never have voted for Obama! They hoped that he would evolve or that he was hiding his true feelings to get votes from middle-America—and maybe he was. But that just makes him more disingenuous. You should vote for groups and individuals that support you unconditionally. Do not ever compromise at the ballot box; you have the real power there!
There were a number of other examples given—including anti-war activists because, while campaigning, Obama specifically said he would take troops out of Iraq and would redeploy them to Afghanistan. “He did not lie,” the President noted, “as that is exactly what he did.”
Similarly, the current leader of the United States invoked another one of Obama’s less-than-flattering nicknames: “Deporter-in-Chief”. Under Obama, more undocumented immigrants were removed from the country than seen in any other prior administration—both in terms of sheer volume and as a percentage of the total population. Efforts to entrap these people included creating “fake schools”. Immigrants would often enroll in institutions that helped secure their green card status, at least for a limited period of time. Here, those people thought they were signing up for the same opportunity, only to find themselves being shipped out over the borders.
Finally, there was what the President considered the most egregious action by a predecessor—his response to being called a Muslim:
Obama fought back and said something along the lines of, “No, I’m not a Muslim, I’m a Christian, I go to such-and-such a church, I have these beliefs, I’ve never even been to a Mosque.” He gave in to Islamophobia, he surrendered to the terrorists. The correct answer is, “What does my religion have to do with the job of being President of the United States? Do I have the skills and qualifications? Can I do the work? My personal convictions have nothing to do with my capabilities, nor should they.”
According to the President, this was one of Obama’s biggest failings and revealed a prejudice that many people did not want to and still refuse to admit was there.
President Believes in Listening to People You Hate, Even Trump
Deliberating along the same theme, the President said that we should also consider listening to people we vehemently are opposed to or thoroughly despise. This brought the conversation around to former-President Donald Trump, whose very name brought a round of “boos” from the audience. Said the President:
While his methods may have left much to be desired, President Trump did propose some things exactly as the most peace-focused people here wanted. He spoke often of pulling the troops out of the Middle East, getting away from the never-ending conflicts in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and more. Yet it was the very same progressives who had been begging for years to make these moves that blocked them from coming to pass.
The President then said that instead of fighting against President Trump, that the Democrats in control of Congress at the time should have worked with him to implement an appropriate, measured approach. It was a lost opportunity because they were more interested in being against Trump than being for their own principles. Continued the President:
If they were in agreement with the policy, then what was holding it back? It simply was political team making, tribalism, my t-shirt’s color is different than yours, I like donkeys and you like elephants! We must have convictions and not change our stance just because the other side happened to say it. You could have disagreed with Trump 99% of the time, but you should have supported him in those 1% of cases where your interests overlapped.
President Thinks “Do Nothing” is a Potential Valid Solution to Global Climate Change
What this was all coming down to, the President asserted, was getting on the same page about “facts” and the need to build policy off of the same data.
As an example, the President highlighted that Global Climate Change is a real situation that is transpiring, and specifically has been happening more rapidly since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and even more so in the past century or more. “Denying climate change is ongoing,” the President expounded, “does not resolve the problems created by it.”
The independent leader of the nation then went on to highlight that the United States is the only country in the world where the right-wing denies Global Climate Change is happening at all. In other right-wing led governments like Hungary, Italy, Japan, and Australia, the regimes fully acknowledge the basic scientific facts. As the President explained to the crowd:
Now, recognizing does not mean you have to agree with the solutions presented. You can be honest and say that economics, stability in energy cultivation and grid management, maintaining higher standards of living, and protecting human presence are more important factors than the environment, other non-sapient species, and the damage caused by sea-level rise. You can even say you are not worried about the security dangers created by this, or that you do not care if the rest of the world faces potable water insecurity.
The President also said that having this position should be respected, that we can disagree on policy, approach, and what is actually important; that everything was fair game for rigorous debate. As the President concluded:
If we agree that Global Climate Change is real and happening at a faster rate than can be explained by naturally occurring processes, what are we going to do about it? A valid answer is nothing! We can do nothing, deal with the consequences, and adapt as humans do. That's not what I would like to see done, but at least that is honest. denying the facts is just malicious manipulation in order to create a partisanship that will selfishly give a Political Party and its members the trappings of power.
What was the President’s End-Goal for Hijacking a Graduation Ceremony?
In what seems a common occurrence with this administration, the President wrapped up the speech and left the crowd perplexed. A smattering of applause could be heard throughout the crowd, but the energy that was there at the onset had long since dissipated. So that leaves one question: why did the President choose this venue to give this particular discourse?
It actually seems like this was a message more for Congress than it was for the students. Back at the State of the Union in February, for instance, the President presented a five-part plan to address the world’s environmental concerns. But since then, Congress has made little headway in actually crafting legislation around the White House’s chief concerns, let alone something that would be acceptable to both major Political Parties. Even at that time, the President tried to create common ground between disparate ideologies, but unfortunately it does not appear that approach has borne much fruit.
Although the Constitutional Amendments that removed the Electoral College and created a ranked voting system for the President allowed the first independent to ascend to the White House, the President remains alone against the hyper-partisan Democrats and Republicans. On the one hand, the President may be trying to soften up Congress in order to move the administration’s agenda along. On the other hand, the President may be using this as a rallying cry to get more unaffiliated allies in the Capitol Building. If people stopped voting by Political Party and started going with their heart, it may ever so slightly break up the oligopoly of the two-Party system.
It should also be noted that in the books that inspired the Amendments that brought about the changes in the Executive Branch (New & Improved: The United States of America and Always Divided, Never United), there were also a number of similar recommendations for the Legislative Branch. Perhaps the President is hoping to create a comparable groundswell so that some Congress in the future will not be dominated by just the two. Regrettably for the President, barring a Constitutional Convention or a modification to the Amendment process, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress are not about to pass decrees that strip them of their own influence, clout, and control.
The above piece is an excerpt from the speculative fiction novel 254 Days to Impeachment: The Future History of the First Independent President by J.P. Prag, available at booksellers worldwide.
Learn more about author J.P. Prag at www.jpprag.com.
254 Days to Impeachment is a work of mixed fiction and nonfiction elements. With the fiction elements, any names, characters, places, events, and incidents that bear any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. For the nonfiction elements, no names have been changed, no characters invented, no events fabricated except for hypothetical situations.
About the Creator
J.P. Prag is the author of "Compendium of Humanity's End", "254 Days to Impeachment", "Always Divided, Never United", "New & Improved: The United States of America", and "In Defense Of...", and more! Learn more at www.jpprag.com.