“Our society’s problems are not issues of the political Left or Right, but questions of right and wrong.”
– Guy Storms
Now that he has officially won the presidential election, it’s tempting to jump on the Barack Obama bandwagon, along with the rest of his supporters. Their excitement is infectious. The President elect does possess a genuine charisma that has attracted voters, and campaign contributions, in record numbers. Obama appears to be an honestly likable man, as were Democratic Presidents Kennedy, Carter and Clinton in their time. His message, as theirs, sounds truly sincere and has inspired a new generation of voters. The world is also watching, and there is a general impression of hopeful optimism for the future success of this coming administration.
I thought that the media focus during this campaign was primarily on the candidates’ personalities and character. As in the past, very little attention was paid to their positions on the salient issues. Obama supporters I’ve talked to possess a faith in the man that assumes his convictions to be similar to their own, despite a lack of evidence to support their belief. Does Barack Obama believe in a woman’s unconditional right to have an abortion? Does he support Gay marriage? Does Obama have a plan to rewrite the laws regulating financial markets and corporate activity? Does he intend to introduce education reform or gun control? What will he do to stem the deterioration of the United States’ crumbling infrastructure, social security and health care? What are his thoughts on the environment and alternative energy sources? Is he sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians? Will he stop the carnage in Iraq, close any of America’s more than 700 military bases around the world, or reduce military spending?
I’m not really sure. I don’t really know what the Republican candidate John McCain’s beliefs were either. Both candidates were vague as to their intentions if elected. I also found media stories on their positions to be both ambiguous and contradictory, depending on when it was published or reported, and by whom. I do know the beliefs of presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the above issues, however, since he discussed them at length during his entire campaign.
I do know that I like Barack Obama.
Obfuscation is not unusual in politics; it’s the norm. A candidate must appeal to as many people as possible in order to be elected. Politicians risk alienating voters if they disagree with them on passionate and personal grounds. I think that most politicians try to be all things to all people whenever they can simply to be elected. This doesn’t make them bad people, or impugn their integrity necessarily, but it does make it virtually impossible for the electorate to make an informed decision when they vote, guarantying that the candidate will disappoint at least some supporters by not performing as expected.
As of January 20, 2009, the Democratic Party will control the Presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States of America. Members of the Democratic Party who hold elected office have been given a unique opportunity to validate the faith of their followers by putting into practice everything they claim to believe in – not just for the people of the United States, but for people everywhere who have a stake in the political and economic well being of America.
Obstruction of legitimate reform can now only come from within the Democratic Party itself. There is no excuse for failure. If Barack Obama is to keep the confidence of the American people and institute real change, corporate manipulation of the legislative process must begin to be curtailed during this administration. Through its insidiously covert influence, Big Business has bastardized the American political system to the point where it is hardly recognizable as being democratic. The result has been an undermining of liberty and the pursuit of happiness at home, and a predatory foreign policy intended to exploit the weaknesses of other peoples solely for corporate profit. Avaricious executives and shareholders are not just killing democracy, they are killing the planet. The global ecosystem that sustains all life is being strained beyond its capacity to recover – all for a fist full of dollars.
Social, economic and environmental concerns will not be effectively addressed if corporate profits continue to dictate the government’s legislative priorities. President Obama has been given a chance to salvage America’s constitutional democracy. At this juncture in history, another betrayal of the public’s trust could have a calamitous outcome lasting for generations to come. If he fails, there may never be another opportunity.
If our water is undrinkable, the air toxic and the soil beyond cultivation, then the political state of the union will no longer matter. We will have failed as a species.
I don’t think that there’s much time left to salvage our situation. At this point in human history, the United States is the richest, most powerful nation on earth. These strengths make it the most influential agent available for effecting positive change in human affairs. As America goes, so goes the world. Having an American President whose skin is dark and whose name is not European in origin will help to dispel the prevalent distrust of America’s intentions throughout the world, but only a sincerely altruistic foreign policy will gain the support and cooperation of other nations in turning back the forces that are destroying us.
I want President Obama to succeed. I really do. I think he’s a good man and I fervently hope that he’ll be a great president. More importantly, the world needs him to be a great president.
Now that would be real change.