By Yanshu Li

In the evening of Oct. 23, 2007, at Boston Common, a public park located in downtown Boston, Senator Barack Obama spoke the rally for his campaign. “Congratulations, by the way, Red Sox nation. I am a White Sox fan.” He said. “You don’t want somebody who pretends to be Red Sox fan as President of United States. You want somebody who’s a principled sports fan even when his team is losing, he still stands up for.”

People gathered at Boston Common applauded for him. Days after, the political jazz of that night faded. People went back to their lives. The earth went on to a new day. The “White Sox fan” is now in his second presidential term that will end in 2017. This Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, there is no sign of political heat at this very park, unless asking the people in the park about President Obama.

“I like him. When Obama became elected, I knew right away that he was gonna win,” Raymond Tempkin said. Tempkin is a 48-year-old aviation technician. He was enjoying the sunshine on a bench. Mike Jones was sitting beside him, listening to the radio playing “Lithium” by Nirvana.

Mike Jones (left) and Raymond Tempkin (right) was listening to “Lithium” by Nirvana on a bench at Boston Common. Oct. 12, 2014 [Photo took by Yanshu Li]
Mike Jones (left) and Raymond Tempkin (right) was listening to “Lithium” by Nirvana on a bench at Boston Common. Oct. 12, 2014 [Photo by Yanshu Li]
“I like him too,” Jones said. “I think he’s doing a great job. He’s better than what Bush did. All Bush did wasto take the oil. That’s it. Obama did a better job.” Jones is a painter and an electric guitar player. He thinks the former president left a hard situation for Obama to handle, in terms of two wars and a slowing economy. And he thinks Obama has done well. “He gave out money to different businesses to spread, and spread the wealth, so they can come out of bankruptcy, and could create more jobs. That was awesome.”

However, not everyone is entirely satisfied. Everly Fleischer, 78, a professor in chemistry from California, said, “I think he’s doing really well, and the reason that not doing better, I think is mainly because Congress is a total ass.” Fleischer was at Boston Common with his wife. He was reading a trip map under shades.

He said, “Even though he has very good vision, he has trouble implementing them, probably because he never managed anything, you know. He went from running a little Chicago community center, and then he was a senator. But he’s never ran anything big. He never had managed department with lots of people. So I don’t think he ever got to understand how you manage things.”

“He also doesn’t seem comfortable trying to comprise and kibitz with congressmen. So it’s a little disappointing, but you don’t know whether it’s him, or just things keep going wrong with the world,” Fleischer added.

Benjamin Chrislip, who was cycling at Boston Common. Oct. 12, 2014 [Photo took by Yanshu Li]
Benjamin Chrislip, who was cycling at Boston Common. Oct. 12, 2014 [Photo  by Yanshu Li]
Compared to Fleischer’s elaborate answer, Benjamin Chrislip, a 31-year-old New Yorker who was cycling, replied with humor. “It is a hard question. But I guess, yeah, it’s mostly ‘Enh.’” Being a Democrat, Chrislip was excited when Obama was elected. Somehow his opinion changed. “I guess I expected more things to happen, I guess my impression of it now, the end of eight years is ‘Enh.’ That’s fine. But it’s like it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. It was sort of like ‘Ok, let’s try the next one.’”

A singer named Danny James, 28, had a different perspective. “Honestly, just that the way politics works in general, it’s a beauty pageant. And the best-looking guy usually is going to win,” James said. He’s a salesman, but also a singer who composes and sells pop songs. He didn’t see the reason to get involved into politics, because he thinks, “It’s just sometimes it’s getting negative and fake and that’s all ruled by money.”

James held a neutral attitude towards Obama. He said, “As far as he’s doing, the economy is great; the real estate market is unbelievable. But then again, there’s natural fluctuation in it, and everything. So who really knows? But I have no reason to hate him.”

Danny James, who was singing at Boston Common. Oct. 12, 2014 [Photo by Yanshu Li]
Danny James, who was singing at Boston Common. Oct. 12, 2014 [Photo by Yanshu Li]
In recent policies toward GLBT group, people can see the changes. Adam Woods, a 23-year-old photographer from Chelsea, said he has noticed. “I really like Obama.” He said. “What I noticed, since he took office, there’s a lot of LGBT policy changes, and even like recently a bunch states now are allowed to have gay marriage, so that’s really important to me as a gay individual.” Woods really appreciated that change. He said, “He’s done a great job. I think being a president is a very difficult position obviously. So I’m happy with the work he’s done.”

While people talked about the incumbent president, they also concerned about the next one. As Fleischer said, “I’m hoping maybe the next election, as least the Democrats won’t lose the senate. And he can do some immigration policy, maybe policy in Supreme Court justices.” And a different way of seeing the future, as Jones said, “Probably it’s another good Democrat. But if it’s a Republican, I hope it’s a fairly good one that has a heart. A Republican that has a heart.”

Boston Common is as welcoming as years ago. That night when Senator Obama gave speech is long gone. But for some people, their heat may have stayed. When Tempkin, the aviation technician who fixes the outside lights of planes, said he liked Obama with “Lithium” playing in the radio, he paused a little. And then he added, “I take it back. I love Obama. That’s me. Write that down. Raymond loves Obama.”

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