"Take our country back."
Almost as soon as Barack Obama became president four years ago, we began hearing that phrase, as if black folks had stolen the White House. Each time I see one of those "Take Our Country Back" signs on someone's lawn, I want to knock on the door and ask, "from whom?"
From whom are you trying to take this country back?
But I don't, because I already know the answer.
It's the same answer to the question of why so many people still don't believe that President Obama was born in the United States. Or why they continue to question his faith or why Donald Trump feels comfortable insulting the office by promising his pocket change in exchange for Obama's college transcripts, as if the president is a stripper desperate for singles.
He and his kind are so pathetic.
They don't just disagree with him. They disrespect him, because in their minds, he's not supposed to be there. He got a handout. He's not a real American. Something about him ain't ... quite ... right.
So when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, his critics spent more time discrediting the importance of the award than congratulating him for winning it.
When unemployment fell under 8%, they accused the Obama administration of fixing the numbers.
When the president opted to campaign instead of surveying the damage caused by Hurricane Isaac sooner, he was called selfish. When Obama left the campaign trail to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, former FEMA Director Michael Brown criticized him for responding too quickly.
Nothing he did was good enough for them.
But on Tuesday, it was good enough for the majority of real Americans.
We watched then-congressman Pete Hoekstra call the stimulus package a failure and then show up for a groundbreaking ceremony for a manufacturing plant made possible by the stimulus. We saw Texas Gov. Rick Perry call the stimulus a waste during debates while quietly using stimulus money to balance his state's budget. Rep. Paul Ryan, the supposed numbers man of the Republican Party, repeatedly called the stimulus a wasteful spending spree, and then we found out he wrote letters asking for stimulus money in his district (PDF), because according to him, it would "stimulate the local and area economy by creating new jobs."
It was hard for real Americans to take criticism of the Recovery Act seriously when those doing the criticizing were busy talking out of both sides of their anti-Obama mouths.
And that's exactly what we've watched for much of four years: the president's critics being more focused on making him look like a failure than on helping the country succeed.
Some call it politics.
I call it unpatriotic.
Either way, despite the disrespect and the disregard and the attempts to suppress votes or intimidate voters, despite the misguided cry of "take our country back," Obama was re-elected because the majority of the American people saw the truth.
You remember when Ryan stood up in front of nation during the Republican National Convention and blamed the president for a plant closing in Janesville, Wisconsin? Yeah, turns out the closure was planned before Obama even took office. The people in Janesville knew the truth, which is probably why more than 60% of the county it's in voted for Obama.
There is no need to take this country back, because it hasn't gone anywhere ... except forward ... toward a more perfect union where the "All-American look" is getting a little bit harder to define. That may make a lot of people uncomfortable, but personal discomfort isn't a good enough reason to slight 25 consecutive months of job growth, resurgent house prices and corporations seeing record profit. Every president since Theodore Roosevelt has talked about reforming health care, and Obama is the one who got it done -- yet his critics say he's done nothing since he's been in office.
Now, of course, there is still a lot of work ahead. We have a deficit to address, a fiscal cliff that is threatening millions of jobs and a GDP that is limping. And the administration is going to make mistakes. Every administration does.
But now that this election is finally over, maybe more Republicans will be willing to take a page from the book of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and give Obama some credit for the things he's done right. We can still challenge the president's ideas without asking for his papers or spitting on our highest office.
When I think about where this country was four years ago -- with us losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month, engulfed in two wars and disliked by many of our allies -- I believe Obama has done a lot that's right.
And from the looks of his resounding re-election, the majority of real Americans feel the same way.