Pamela Zuker: Soapbox
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
What the Obama administration will be is a mystery. In many ways, Obama the Presidential Candidate was far more centrist than Obama the Senator, and which of these two Obamas heads the executive branch remains to be seen. Those in the middle and on the right hope (or pray) that his policies will be moderate, while Pelosi, Reid, and others make no attempt to conceal their glee as they prepare to institute the change they envision ” perhaps not quite the kind of “change” for which the majority of the country has “hope.”
Nevertheless, after an interminable election cycle, we have chosen our new president. Whether or not he was our first choice, Barack Obama will be president of every one of us, and we might consider taking a break from rancorous partisan rhetoric while we see what his administration is like. It might behoove us to remember that while conservatives had valid complaints about Bill Clinton’s turbulent presidency, he cut taxes, instituted welfare reform, presided over both a balanced budget and a reduced national debt, and although a Democrat, declared, “The era of big government is over.”
Of course, the center and right are hoping that the mantra of Obama’s administration will not be, “The era of big government is back” and will certainly oppose policies that attempt to re-institute the types of bloated government programs Bill Clinton did away with. But descriptions of Obama as untested and inexperienced, and digs about “on the job training” (to be fair, a phrase not coined by Republicans) are completely irrelevant now. Furthermore, the right’s insistence that America take seriously Obama’s poor judgment (and hopefully nothing more) in connecting himself to unsavory characters seemed to have little or no impact on the electorate, and now might be a good time to give those concerns a rest.
Our economy is in trouble, people are struggling to pay their bills, businesses are treading water, and beginning in January we will have four (or eight) years under Obama during which we will assuredly engage in appropriate political battles over how to solve our nation’s problems. Right now, however, we can all unite in our tremendous pride in our country ” whether or not we ever lost it.
Our elections appear to have withstood concerns about voter fraud, absent are the usual cries of racism at the polls, and most importantly, we stand at an extraordinary and transformative moment when we have elected our first president of not only American but also African heritage. Perhaps we are emerging out of America’s childhood into a maturity that truly and wholeheartedly embraces the idea that we are all created equal.
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This is undeniably an historic moment and a turning point for our country. Even if we agree with none of Obama’s policy positions, we can revel in the knowledge that the United States of America elected a black man to be the leader of the free world. From here on, children will have a very different sense than children of past generations that whatever their ethnic, religious, or racial backgrounds they can grow up to be anything they want to be.
This moment is not a time to be Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. It is a time to be Americans. It is also a time when Americans need each other more than ever. Today, we have an opportunity to view our current economic crisis the way we should have viewed 9/11 ” as an invitation to serve. Volunteer opportunities abound, people are in need, and nonprofits will have enormous difficulty performing in this economy. Wherever we choose to lend a hand, each of us can make a difference.
Unless and until proven wrong, let’s give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt. Maybe his economic and social policies really will be as moderate as his centrist supporters affirm. And maybe those on the right will demonstrate more respect for President Obama than those on the left gave President Bush.
One can only hope.
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