Most Americans are familiar with the iconic artwork that was released during Barack Obama’s famous 2008 presidential campaign. A red, white, and blue portrait of the soon-to-be-elected presidential candidate with the simple slogan “Hope” plastered under his face. This picture virtually became the trademark of Obama’s campaign in the public eye. However, around seven years later, artist Shepard Fairey, who created the poster, feels much differently about President Obama.
When asked if Obama lived up to his expectations in a recent interview with Esquire, Shepard responded: “Not even close.”
“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].”
However, Shepard noted that Obama isn’t always necessarily the only one to blame for our government’s problems:
“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.”
Shepard Fairey has voiced his concerns regarding campaign finance before. Last year, Shepard released an art piece similar to the “Hope” poster of 2008. The twist on the Obama poster features a satirical politician by the name of “Honest Gil” holding a bundle of cash with the word “Sold” under his portrait.
Shepard made a statement about the Honest Gil campaign on his website Obeygiant.com.
“I have frequently talked about the many problems created by the current campaign finance structure. Big Money donations distort their influence in politics and corrupt our democracy. This is an issue not many Americans seem interested in, but it affects all Americans by insuring that Lobbyists and special interests are put before the interests of the average person. Genuine democracy should guarantee that politicians create the greatest good for the greatest number of people, but that idea has eroded with the favors owed by politicians to special interests in exchange for their contributions.” (full statement here)
That being said, it is likely that Shepard will not be assisting any major political parties with his art in the coming elections. In his interview with Esquire, he notes:
“[…] nothing against Hillary. I agree with Hillary on most issues, but campaign finance structure makes me very angry because it means that politicians are going to have to raise a huge amount of money...”
Campaign financing indeed is one of the most crucial issues in politics. It reinforces and maintains a power structure no matter who is in the office. The president has still been bought, congressmen have been bought, senators have been bought, etc. This creates a clear conflict of interest. It gives politicians opportunity and incentive to think with their pockets rather than with their sense of humanity and therefore paves a tailored trail for corruption in our government.
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Contributed by Josh Paniagua of The Anti-Media.