Having been elected on a wave of hope four years ago, Barack Obama now faces a significant drop in popularity among disillusioned Democrats.
Back then, a historic campaign turned US politics into a pop culture phenomenon. The Democratic candidate achieved unprecedented support, international fame and a record-breaking US $650 million in donations. Thousands of New Yorkers celebrated the victory, clutching an enormous American flag hand-sewn by Obama supporters.
But the winds have changed – and the same very Democratic symbol waved in honor of the president-elect in 2008 has been donated to the movement that became a phenomenon in 2011.
David Mafouda, who fundraised for Obama in 2008, organized the flag project after being inspired by his rhetoric – a dream shattered by the subsequent years of “politics as usual”.
“Currently what’s inspiring me is OWS. That’s why I brought the flag to OWS,” he told RT. “And the thing that inspired me about it is the fact that it’s a grass roots movement that had a very clear and transparent process.”
Artist Shepard Fairey feels similarly disenchanted, releasing an updated version of his iconic “Hope Poster” in which Obama has been supplanted by Occupy Wall Street.
With an economy still in crisis, Wall Street largely unregulated, social programs slashed and over 45 million citizens on food stamps, Barack Obama still says that “it all starts with you, making a decision to get involved.” Now, it seems, his familiar rhetoric may not be enough to win back his old fan base.
“He didn’t produce what people wanted him to produce,” says Carl Watson, an associate editor at The Williamsburg Observer.
In 2008, Princeton professor and author Dr. Cornel West was one of Obama’s biggest supporters, saying that “he’s got the vision, he’s got the newness, he’s got the freshness.” West took part in more than 100 campaign events to support Obama’s election bid. But last April, the prominent intellectual told RT that Barack Obama had failed.
“He’s the friendly face of the American empire abroad. He’s in the process, very sadly, of becoming a pawn of big finance and a puppet of big business,” Cornel West explained.
And any American politician knows they are in trouble when the Hollywood A-listers start turning their backs.
Matt Damon, actor and former Obama volunteer says: “I really think he misinterpreted his mandate.”
Yet approval ratings show voters are even more turned off by the alternatives, leaving Obama seemingly the lesser of two evils.
It is clear that America's president is entering the 2012 race amid a growing band of disillusioned Democrats. Most will still get behind Barack Obama over his Republican rivals, but with a heavy heart. In 2008 he was the unassailable candidate of choice. This time, he is likely to stay in by default.