Ricky Ochilo, staff writer
They came in droves to witness the dawning of a new nation. With swelling hearts, loud cheers and tears welling from their eyes, they looked at the face and symbol of hope, Barack Obama. In Obama they entrusted their deepest fears, hardships and hopes for a better life. The long, doubtful and uncertain journey to the oval office was met with resounding affirmation as thousands who had cast their votes came to realize that their dreams were now a reality.
It was at the United States Democratic Convention in 2004 that Barack Obama took center stage hypnotizing the audience and the world since then. At that time, he had a cautionary reminder for the people, “Let’s face it,” he said, “my presence on this stage is very unlikely. My father was a foreign student born and raised in a small village in Kenya.”
With that in mind it seemed that his race for the presidency was at odds with conventional American politics. But throughout his campaign, Obama has maintained his hope for change in America and inspired thousands around the world. He has continued to speak of shifting from the old ways of politics, focused on the special interests to a new way with the greater American people in mind.
On Tuesday, the world ushered in a new leader. Obama (who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20) was elected as the first African American president since the country was founded in 1776. His administration has a great task ahead. It is characterized with an insatiable level of expectation and promise, which can be seen as politically risky when coupled with growing domestic and global economic problems.
Regardless, Obama’s administration must act with what he calls the “fierce urgency of now.” What exactly does that mean to the average citizen? It is likened to having to save a loved one from being engulfed in burning flames. It comes down to the personal responsibility of every American to make the country what they want it to be.
Presently in America, the economy is faltering, the financial sector is on the edge of collapse barely hanging on to a trillion dollar tax payer bailout plan. In addition, the nation’s auto companies, which have been the propeller of American industrial pride, are struggling.
As Obama assumes the role of chief executive and chief of state, the nation’s job industry is in peril, the values of homes have plummeted as a result of subprime mortgages and retirement plans have ceased to appreciate with the continued interest rate cuts. This is the atmosphere that the next president will have to maneuver over. It is defined by crisis after crisis.
Recently, Obama’s policy to raise taxes in order to restore and ease the economy has been smeared with socialist propaganda. Currently, the United States funnels wealth from the bottom to the top. The richest one percent of Americans control nearly forty percent of all the wealth in the nation. Similarly, the same one percent has a firm hand on government power.
Sacrifices will be necessary to reinvigorate foreign investment and economic stability in the U.S. The irresponsibility and greed in Wall Street has set the nation and its citizens back. There is an urgent need to regulate banks whose negligence and incredible financial risk taking has contributed to bad investments. The politics of fear inherent in the bailout plan and definitive of the Bush administration cannot be used as an excuse to extort the public.
Furthermore, the U.S. cannot survive or thrive with wealth primarily concentrated at the top and the middle class pushed down the bottom. Correcting this imbalance is one of the major questions the country has to answer. It is an issue president Obama will have to tread on lightly but firmly.
The main point is that the U.S. is in deep trouble. Yet instead of looking for creativeand sound solutions to these major problems, a select few of the leaders are shouting from podiums at the public with propaganda that hearkens back to the 1940s and ’50s; those times are behind us. Today, attempts to restore fiscal security to a government that has been misled to the lions den are derided as subversive and termed as the work of socialist-Marxists. Obama is no socialist-Marxist. He is a progressive and that is evidenced by his trust in democracy and transparency of corporate and political power. Likewise, a belief in government to be held accountable in the regulation and management of the economy.
For the global arena, the Obama presidency will have to be constructive and pro-active in its engagements with the Middle East and many disgruntled American allies. New partnerships must be formed to bridge the diverging of views to spearhead mutual aid and converge towards mutual benefit. The change will require international collaboration that must be built on trust, confidence and shifts in domestic and foreign policy.
In Obama what America will find is a man who goes beyond the rhetoric of justice, equality and liberty. In Obama, America will realize and actualize these virtues of democracy. America must decide whether they intend to tolerate the misguided and debased politics of fear or come together as active citizens with a strong will to promote common good.
For America, the great promise rests on a government that works openly and honestly for the people, cultivates the moral sense of the people and is courageous enough to include the citizenry in decision making to bolster participatory democracy. Once these tenets are integrated into the government’s framework then meaningful change will follow.