Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to Hope and Change

Obama's inaugural speech got me hoping for a minute we were going somewhere. Invoking clarion calls for "we, the people" to rise up and demand greater freedom and equality at home and abroad and secure a future free from the worst ravages of climate change, Obama was singing that hope and change tune, and despite deeply entrenched cynicism about what to expect in a second term presidency, I want to say "Yes, we can." But can we? Clinton in his second term was hamstrung by his impeachment trials, and not even having Al Gore as his vice-president moved him to any positive action on, say, global warming. Obama, thank God, has no skeletons in the closet that the Republicans will latch onto like Clinton's Lewinsky affair, but the truth is executive power is limited under the Constitution, and it seems Republicans feel little pressure to work with a Democratic president intent on a progressive program for rebuilding the country. They feel in the short term that blowing it all up benefits them more than it hurts them. After all, how much lower can their approval ratings go? So, given the imperiled state of our nation, what other recourse do we have but get back in the saddle and start working to defeat the obstructionists in 2014?

It starts with a groundswell. The people have to hear the ringing of the bell. We can't let the next four years be drowned in a slow trickle of deficit and budget battles. Pick an issue and stick with it through thick and thin, preferably something long term that cuts against the grain of looking no further than the next quarterly accounting. Talk it up. Spread the word with postings on social media and cafeteria encounters with total strangers. Make it seem "normal" to expect change for the better and to hold our leaders accountable to lead, not sit in Washington and calculate how to hold on to the reins of power by doing as little as possible.
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