and entering

Occupy the White House Enters 35th Month

Obama at Tent City outside the White House.

WASHINGTON, DC - It will be four years ago this January that, filled with vague, unfocused anger at the status quo, Barack Obama decided to do something about it: he decided to occupy the White House.

"Our democracy was fundamentally broken," Obama said. "No one in power was paying any attention to us before this movement. It had gotten to the point where the only way to have a voice in this country was to Occupy the White House."

And that's why, on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama left his comfortable Chicago mansion to camp out fulltime at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The movement seemed to initially have a fair amount of momentum behind it.  Within its first two years, Occupy the White House had successfully lobbied Congress to pass far-reaching overhauls of the financial and health-care sectors.

In recent months, though, Occupy the White House has been stuck in neutral, as Congress and the American public have lost interest in the movement.

One of Obama's only regrets is that Occupy the White House is not more inclusive. "I think it's ridiculous that the Secret Service insists on keeping people out," Obama said, lamenting the closed gates surrounding the White House and the strict ID checks that have been implemented to gain entrance to the complex. "I mean, do they really need a uniformed Marine outside of the West Wing, and eight armed agents surrounding me at all times?"

Obama also wishes that daily General Assemblies had played a bigger role in shaping some of the movement's most significant decisions. 

Last May, when U.S. military forces killed Osama bin Laden, for instance, Obama was pushing strongly for the United States to withhold action until a 75% consensus could be reached. "I really wanted to go out on the National Mall and just ask people what they thought about it," Obama said. "It also would have been nice to get bin Laden's perspective beforehand. I think the killing would have had more legitimacy if we had included everyone and come to a consensus."

Still, Obama says there are good days and bad. "This movement has been up and down," he said. "There are days when I feel like I'm the most powerful man in the whole world, but to be honest, most of the time, it feels like no one's really listening."

© 2011