As published in the January 26, 2009 issue of The Cauldron
When 1.8 million people gathered in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, to welcome our new President with open arms and a few tears of joy, we entrusted this relatively young political man from Hawaii with a great responsibility. We are putting our nation, and with it our hopes, and our dreams, and ultimately our future in his hands. There is significant risk here. As we Americans have seen, this trust is too often broken, and our country too often led down the road to perdition.
President Barack Obama has promised us something different. He promises change, transparency and responsibility. In return, he asks for loyalty, trust, commitment and selflessness. In many ways, our task is much greater.
How can we trust government that has us in endless foreign conflict, losing jobs by the thousand, suffering without proper healthcare and education and staring down the possible effects of an unhealthy planet?
We trust because we have to, because President Obama asks for our trust and because he has done everything we have asked of him to date. His campaign was honest and positive. He tried valiantly to avoid a negative atmosphere, instead focusing on what he brought to the table.
Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama has come to office prepared to act from day one. He surrounds himself with a cabinet forged of impeccable politicians. He has already signed executive orders to close Guantanamo Bay and increase military accountability in regards to proper procedure in the field.
His office, and even more importantly, his revisions to the Whitehouse website have already created a more transparent government that shows no signs of slowing down. In a troublesome economic time, he has frozen Whitehouse salaries, particularly among those making over one hundred thousand annually.
Further, Barack Obama realizes that change only begins in the Oval Office. In his inaugural address, he said, “For as much as government can and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.” He continued, asking for selflessness, courage, kindness and generosity in a time of hardship. He did not ask American’s for patience. I will ask for him.
Barack Obama will make positive changes to our country. Yet, changes take time, and while some have already occurred, others may take months, or years. As CNN drowns the public in coverage of Obama’s first hundred days, the public must be wise enough to realize that one hundred days will not be enough to achieve the change we so deeply desire.
Nothing moves quickly in Washington. It will take more than a year to responsibly leave Iraq, fix healthcare and education, and change America’s image in the world. It might take more than four, or eight. It will certainly be more than Barack Obama’s time before our economy and our planet are right again. His task is to start the process. We must finish it and we must exercise patience in doing so.
At his Inaugural Address in 1961, John F. Kennedy said, “All this will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor perhaps our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin…in your hands fellow citizens more than mine will rest the success or failure of our course.”
Kennedy, like Roosevelt, Lincoln and Washington before him, has a legacy that transcends time. If we can make a great leap of faith, trusting Obama’s words as our fathers and mothers trusted Kennedy’s, we can once again see the sun rise on America and, perhaps, add Obama to that already prestigious list.