Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Good Luck, Mr Obama

The time is now 5:26 AM, and there are six hours and 34 minutes until President-elect Obama becomes President Obama. I wish him well in a job I don't know why anyone would want to have.

Not since Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933 has the country faced such daunting problems. Mr Obama inherits two wars, an economy in ruins, a foreign policy in shreds, and domestic problems that would have driven Solomon to tears. He has a loving and supportive family that will watch him age before their eyes as he tackles the smoking wreckage left after eight years of failed policies and arrogant hubris.

Expectations are high, but Mr Obama enjoys a significant advantage: a vast reservoir of goodwill on the part of an American people anxious for inspirational leadership. His challenge will be to channel this goodwill into support for policies that will be painful but necessary. In this, he can draw on two other advantages: his status as the nation's first black president and his gift for inspiring oratory.

Much has been made of Mr Obama's role as the first black president. Black citizens are justly proud of this moment. But it's useful to remember that Mr Obama is not the black president...as he himself has said, there is not a black America and a white America - there is the United States of America. It's useful to remember that although Mr Obama had virtually unanimous support of black voters last November, that support alone did not make him president. He was elected because he also attracted the votes of millions of white Americans who voted not for a black man or a white man, but for the man they thought was the better candidate. Race is still, and will remain, an issue in 21st century America...but the historic election of a black man to the nation's highest office is a slap in the face of those who have made an industry of fanning the flames of racial division.

Mr Obama's gift for oratory is well-known. The man gives a great speech. Unfortunately, we live in a time when we've been conditioned to listen for sound bites rather than well-constructed speeches, and to have legions of talking heads talk down to us to explain what we've heard, as if we're too stupid to understand it on our own. It's been a long time since we've had a really good public speaker in office. Mr Obama will need all of his legendary communication skills to rally the support he needs to move the nation forward. It's been a long time since there's been a President I really wanted to listen to. I'm ready.

Time will tell whether I made the right decision when I cast my vote for Mr Obama last November, whether he can rise to meet the fearsome challenges he inherits, and whether he can unite Americans of all races, economic levels, and political philosophies to do what's necessary to fix the country.

I'm cautiously optimistic, and I wish Mr Obama well as he takes on a job I would never want to have. He will need all the goodwill, all the support, all the love of his family, and a lot of luck to succeed. The nation needs an inspiring and dynamic leader. I think we've found one. I hope he is able to capitalize on the optimism of this historic day to move us forward.

Good luck, Mr Obama.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



John said...

The preacher in me says that he'll need more than love and luck, he'll need the prayerful support of a hopeful nation and wisdom from God above.

fiona said...

Very well written!
You do realise, that if not for you, I would have no clue what the heck is going on / has gone on, in this country !

anOCgirl said...

i too am cautiously optimistic about obama's presidency. the road ahead looks incredibly difficult and i certainly don't envy his position. i realize that many find his words inspirational, and i hope that those he inspires will find it in themselves to act in support of his message.