Editor’s note: Nathaniel P. Morris is a second-year student at Harvard Medical School.
(CNN) — I’m reading a terribly sad book these days. It’s a book that I thought would uplift me during the doldrums of second-year medical school, and renew in me a sense of hope. It’s called “The Audacity to Win,” and it’s a memoir of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
When I’m finished with my patient write-ups at night and get into bed, the book returns me to a time when politics inspired millions and speeches could take your breath away. The election turned out to be a landslide, and news anchors paused to reflect on the historic nature of the hour.
My classmates cried with joy, and my parents saved every newspaper they could find. A young team of visionaries was headed for the White House, and the nation was ready for change. During Obama’s transition to office in 2008, he had an 82% approval rating. There was something in the air.
And then I close the book. Cutting to the present is a rude awakening, like snapping out of a dream. It’s hard to remember those days of optimism — they seem a distant memory, a sad reminder of opportunities gone by. Change indeed happened, in the years since I cast my first ballot. It was simply nothing I could have imagined.
I credit Obama with great and varied accomplishments, from the passage of the Affordable Care Act to our military exit from Iraq, the end of “don’t ask don’t tell,” to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Moreover, I believe that partisan obstructionism has upended too many efforts to push our nation forward: immigration reform, a public option for health care, and closing the base at Guantanamo Bay, among others. But, after the countless times in which I have found myself defending the Obama administration to colleagues and peers, I’ve reached a limit to the explanations that I can provide. I’ve reached a point of political despair.
Read more: CNN.com