Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Obama Optimism

It is a truism that no man (or woman) can be everything to everyone all the time -- or for that matter even part of the time.

That is the danger in the Obama win -- that the priorities he might want, the priorities those who elected him might feel he needs to address first, are not the priorities that events will allow him to focus on in the first three to six months of his presidency.

Joe Biden, vice-president -elect, has already forecast that the Obama White House will be challenged in foreign affairs within the first 180 days of assuming power. But according to the political commentators, the first situation the new president will confront -- and needs to confront -- is the U.S. economy and by extension the world economy. Yet he comes to office with deficits running over $450 billion a year, a $700 billion bailout of financial and other corporations, a Pentagon that is used to a $500 million base budget and another $120 billion for the "war on terror." And that doesn't address entitlements -- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and unemployment benefits.

The message for the public is two-fold. They must exhibit a great deal of patience, for which in return the new administration must be transparently accountable. The public must also remain engaged -- for which in return the new administration and the Congress must pay attention to what the people are saying and who is speaking.

The people have elected a new leader. Now they must create and sustain a movement that will "speak to power" and by this continuing involvement transition the promises of the campaign into the programs for the country's future.

Tha, really, is what democracy in the end is -- the people in action.


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