Brigitte L. Nacos
Given the crises and problems troubling the nation and the world and, surely, awaiting the 44th president, one wonders why anyone in his or her right mind would have entered the race for the White House in the first place.
To be sure, Barack Obama’s victory marks a historic leap forward and moves the American dream from the realm of myth into that of reality. 45 years after Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” speech, the essence of his vision came true. While racism did not vanish over night, America has gone a long way to overcome racial and ethnic prejudices. For the majority of voters, Barack Obama was a candidate who also happened to be black—not a Black candidate.
The America of today is different from what it was yesterday. Today--and from now on-- every boy and every girl in this nation can believe in the American dream that requires adherence to fundamental values, most of all equality.
Under the headline “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job” the satirical weekly newspaper The Onion published this morning the following job description of Barack Obama’s future position in the White House:
WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."
Satire aside, Obama may well have applied for and won the most difficult job in the nation and in the world. There is little time for victory laps. The president-elect must prepare for a running start to deal with the many problems and crises that the current administration will leave behind, among them the financial and economic crisis, a crumbling infrastructure, loss of jobs, energy dependency as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc., etc.
However well the president-elect prepares and executes once in office, it will not only take a village and a city and a state and a region but a whole nation to come together in order to solve the current problems and crises. Indeed, it will take a global community of good will to solve the collective problems of the world—first of all the deteriorating environment and, therefore, the urgent need for clean, alternative energy sources.
Senator Obama seemed authentic when he appealed for unity in his victory speech; the same was true for Senator McCain as he pledged to cooperate with the future president and urged his followers to do the same. These appeals may not persuade the whole nation and not the whole world, but if most Americans come together as they did at the most trying times before, they will prevail again. If furthermore most people around the globe can find common ground on pressing problems, there is reason to be upbeat and optimistic that CHANGE was not simply a clever campaign slogan but a meaningful agenda for a better tomorrow.
This is not only Barack Obama's challenge--this is now a challenge for all of us.
If you are a regular visitor to the blog, you know that I supported Senator Hillary Clinton in her run for the Democratic nomination. I wanted to see a highly qualified woman in the Oval Office. finally. With Hillary out of the picture and after a time of grief and perhaps some anger, I realized that supporting Mr. Obama was the only option. Real CHANGE and our children's and grandchildren's future may well depend on Obama's success or failure to bring about CHANGE in terms of different politics and policies.