Esquire tracked down skateboard enthusiast and graffiti artist, Shepard Fairey, who inspired a single-word message in 2008 which convinced millions of voters of a new age was dawning.
When asked if Mr. Obama had lived up to his “Hope” poster, Fairey laconically responded: “Not even close.”
“And there are so, so many different problems, whether it’s income [inequality], gun regulation, or climate change. Anything that affects what I would call the common good or common assets is not about just the top of the capitalist pyramid is affected by campaign finance structure. You know, the thing I’m really worried about is climate change. Go through my archive and there’s a ton of stuff about the power of the oil and gas industries, climate change, campaign finance, you know, just other forms of environmental destruction. It almost all relates to corporations coming before people. You know, I was a big supporter of the Occupy movement, and I’m not anti-capitalism. Capitalism just needs better referees.
Obama has had a really tough time, but there have been a lot of things that he’s compromised on that I never would have expected. I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he’d support]. I’ve met Obama a few times, and I think Obama’s a quality human being, but I think that he finds himself in a position where your actions are largely dictated by things out of your control. I’m not giving him a pass for not being more courageous, but I do think the entire system needs an overhaul and taking money out of politics would be a really good first step.
We also need a public that isn’t so uneducated and complacent. I hate to say Americans are ignorant and lazy, but a lot of them are ignorant and lazy. It’s just like what I was talking about with Rebel Music and art. When you live in a place that has a lot of good things that make life easier, it’s easier to take them for granted. But what frustrates me to no end are people who want to blame Obama or blame anything that is something that if they were actually doing anything as simple as voting, it might not be as bad as it is. There’s a lot of finger pointing and very little action and very little research into the dynamics that created the situation that they’re unhappy about,” said Fairey.
Artistry is a lonely business.
For those who placed Mr. Obama in a class of his own, a historic figure to whom there is no parallel, Mr. Obama is a visionary who has been undone by the residual effects of his wily predecessor, Mr. Bush, or capitalism, which Mr. Fairey heralds as a theory in desperate need of officiating to prevent the looting it inspires.
For critics of Mr. Obama, he is a risk-averse leader who takes an incurious approach to governing; he codified Bush policies he endlessly demagogued in two elections; and he appears perfectly content postponing solutions by kicking glaring problems down the road.
Mr. Obama postured himself in 2008 as a re-incarnation of President Lincoln. The masses would have settled for sensational; however, given the state of affairs, less than mediocre is the most appropriate expression to define his tenure at 1600 Pennsylvania.