By Harrison Golden, The Daily Agenda
Barack Obama spent much of his weekend campaigning in and around Chicago, hosting two $35,000-a-plate dinners and raising over $3.5 million. With Michelle and the kids on the other side of the country, he took a night to relax at home, left to his own devices.
"I am sleeping in my bed tonight," he told supporters last Friday. "I’m going to go into my kitchen. I might cook something for myself, putter around in the backyard a little bit."
He woke up late the next morning, feeling refreshed as he strolled around his Hyde Park neighborhood, and joking with reporters. But had he picked up the day’s newspaper – or turned on the local news – he might not have been so relaxed. He would have realized that the city of 2.7 million where he once served as a state senator has endured a bloody few weeks.
Across town in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood on Saturday, 16-year-old Jamal Lockett was fatally shot in the chest. The high school student was arguing with a group of young men about whether a bicycle had been stolen. When the argument reached its peak, Lockett became one of three Chicagoans murdered over the weekend. At least 29 others were injured in separate shootings around the city.
The week before was not any better. Memorial Day weekend gun violence claimed 11 lives in Chicago, including that of a 13-year-old boy. Over 40 others were wounded. Police have no leads, and no arrests have been made in any of these cases.
"The people I’m counting on at this crucial moment could not be more different," Obama wrote in an email to supporters last Thursday.
Mitt Romney cannot deny the economic diversity of his opponent’s supporters. Obama still resonates with many people in his hometown, ranging from the attendees of his fancy fundraising events to the ordinary Americans that he meets on the street. An aisle at the Walgreen’s located just a few blocks away from his house is still dedicated to memorabilia of the President. The East 55th Street dry cleaners where he used to take his suits is still proud of its most famous customer. But last weekend, our nation’s 44th President – the first to call Chicago his home – did too little to acknowledge the turmoil in his own hometown.
After his Saturday morning walk around an affluent Chicago residential community, Obama did not walk into the Walgreen’s. Or the dry cleaners. He instead walked back inside his $1.7 million home, where the windows were draped in translucent black curtains.
Obama insists that his policies – from foreign affairs to economics – have laid the foundation for peace and prosperity.
"I believe that if we’re successful in this election — when we’re successful in this election — that the fever may break."
And at the Chicago Cultural Center’s dining hall on Friday night, Obama added.
"It’s good to be home. The White House is nice, but I’m just leasing."
Obama might be confident about leasing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for four more years. But if he doesn’t keep up with the gun violence and gang activity affecting his hometown, the Chicago he comes back to will be far different from the one he left.
This article was originally published on DailyAgenda.org.