The Task Ahead

I know it’s only been one day, and I’m not one to have stars in my eyes, but it actually does feel like we may be entering an all-new era of politics and governance.

I don’t have the words to say how impressed I am with this new President. He’s obviously intelligent and competent, but at the same time he doesn’t seem full of himself, nor has he been trying to suggest that he has all the answers, or that he will be able to solve our problems for us. On the contrary, he has said many times that all of us will have to pull together to work our way out of the various messes we find ourselves in, and he says it in such a way that I actually want to do just that.

His natural political enemies, the ultraconservative hard core Christian right, seem to be a little scarce these days, and they are reduced to rolling their eyes, making fun of the concepts of “hope” and “change,” and predicting that President Obama will simply take everybody’s money and throw it down the nearest liberal rat hole. Rush Limbaugh chortles “This guy is in so far over his head…” but his words ring false, maybe even to Rush himself.

Anyone who reads this blog or knows me even a little knows that I am skeptical of public figures almost to the point of cynicism. They always have ulterior motives, and I don’t trust them. I’ve said here before that you have to have an inflated ego even to run for president. So by (my) definition, presidents must be a somewhat unsavory bunch.

And yet.

During my life a few presidents have looked realistically into the face of daunting adversity and called the nation to service. Some, like Jimmy Carter, were kind of earnest bummers. Others, most notably JFK, spoke eloquently and inspired a generation. I find myself inspired by this president, and wanting to give him a little extra slack. I catch myself choking up at the unfolding of this particular bit of history. I’m open to the call for responsibility. I’m suspending my disbelief. The nation — the world — is in big trouble, yet I’m feeling hopeful. I’m thinking OK, what role can I play?

Who knows? Maybe we really can save the world.

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6 Replies to “The Task Ahead”

  1. One day does not make a career. Nor does it mean great things are coming. I voted for and supported Obama and donated money to his campaign … yet I’m reserving assessment and judgment about him until he’s been in office for a while and done some stuff.

    I am slightly hopeful but not overly inspired. I know in my heart that trusting a politician is somewhat akin to Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown and her saying, “Trust me this time”. We have no historical examples of pure altruism in D.C. for there always hidden agendas. Either Obama is too good to be true or he too has hidden plans and agendas. Time will tell on that front.

    We’ve been swimming in Republican shit since the day Nixon was elected. To me, JFK and Jimmy Carter were the last real Dems in the White House. LBJ bungled so badly he’s in his own category and Bill Clinton was Republican Lite and doesn’t factor well in historical terms.

    I am very concerned with the expectation factor. Giddy highs can lead to groaning lows. The exaltations, the tears of joy, the hopefulness are all wonderful. But … will it last, especially if Obama runs into a few walls or even stumbles? We know there’s a predatory right wing media waiting with sharpened knives – heck most of the major TV networks and most all of the daily newspapers are conservative and they will pounce. If Obama falters he will will become their fodder and that in turn will change people’s perception of the almost undefinable words “Hope and trust”.

    Lastly, the concept of service is great but will it pay the bills? My bills, your bills. We have become time starved people – work days are longer and paychecks barely cover living expenses. I think it’s fair to say, in general, work is the essence of who we are – we have so little time for relaxation, reflection or simple ‘down time’. Volunteering is doable but other stuff will be sacrificed. Is there sufficient social will for the degree of service Obama has requested? I don’t know.

    But I certainly want President Obama to be too good to be true.

  2. I can wax starry-eyed, but I’ve always had a core of cynicism when it comes to politicians. But even I understand that they simply can’t please everyone. I want Obama to succeed. I want democratic ideals to become the norm, because I think in the end that’s how human beings achieve their best moments — by following the Golden Rule. In my opinion, that’s what it all boils down to, all the religion and dogma and political rambling on.

    With Obama in charge, we’ll come closer to achieving a better world. Will it be perfect? No, but it never will be. There are big changes ahead because of climate change, global warming, and a seriously injured world economy. Perhaps there isn’t a lot of time to go out and do volunteer work at the moment, but there are little things we can do that don’t take up much time. We can help our neighbors, we can grow vegetable gardens, we can give each other a smile and a hand. Idealistic? Starry-eyed? Sure. But it sure beats the alternative.

    I agree with both of you.

  3. Bill – Cautiously optimistic. I get it, and something in my nature won’t let me cut all the way loose, either.

    Regarding “service,” I’m not sure how to define it, but I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time. Maybe it’s time to look outward. The world economy is on the skids. I might be out of a job sometime this year. So I’ll be liberated.

    Wren – Democratic ideals, yay! Today Obama signed an order to close Guantanamo, and he said it’s not just to keep a campaign promise, but to (paraphrasing) uphold democratic ideals. Spoke in complete sentences, too.

  4. I believe we can save the world. We have enough economists studying poverty economics, enough public health professionals like AG, a smart President and the most educated society we’ve ever had.

    Anything is possible if we believe, listen, and work together. ‘Cause we’re in this together!

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