“Are we expecting too much from Obama?” This was the thought-provoking inquiry that my Uncle Windsor asked me in my back yard as my family gathered for a post-Christmas brunch on the day after Christmas.
It was interesting that the pronoun “we” was used in that profound interrogatory. You see, my Uncle Windsor was born and raised in Jamaica, but now lives in Canada.
Even from his very northern vantage point, he, like so many of our global neighbors, are watching and considering the impact that the
Yes-We-Can man will have inside and outside the borders of the United States.
It is almost cliché at this juncture to reiterate the historic implications of the Obama presidency. I truly believe, however, that the more relevant issue at this point may be exactly what my uncle alluded to: the historic expectations of an Obama presidency.
The change that election results showed most Americans believed in, is rapidly entering the realm of change we all are expecting; probably sooner than later. In this generation that microwaves pasta and purchases instant energy in a bottle, instant gratification is a trait seemingly hardwired into our DNA.
With America still a victim of its racially biased past, the economic recession of its present and the uncertainty of its future, has Obama become the Don Quixote of the modern age, elected to fulfill the impossible dream, while battling the political windmills on his administrative horizon?
Not if we do our part.
Barack Obama’s phoenix-like ascension from young Illinois senator to president of the United States has often inspired supporters and critics alike to use descriptive nomenclature such as “messiah,” “rock star” and “pioneer” to describe the magnetic appeal and engaging communication skills of our president-elect. His ability to harness the nuances of hope and verbalize them into tasty verbal portions universally digestible to Americans from all walks of life makes him the man from whom much is expected.
Within those consumable morsels that encapsulate the promise and potential of America, Obama has been careful to mix in the bitter but necessary pinches of civic engagement, personal responsibility and individual accountability.
His first major call to arms for Americans was his unprecedented speech about the reality of race in America: A More Perfect Union.
Obama never said he could solve the problem of racial bias and prejudices and its corrosive effect on the moral and literal infrastructure of this nation. What he did was put the subject on America’s dining table, and incited a long overdue national dialogue about race that made many of us look inward and measure our complicity in the perpetuation of racial bias and prejudice. This is individual accountability.
Obama has assembled a virtual dream team of economic advisers to assist in formulating the financial strategies necessary to raise our nation from the economic abyss of recession to the promised land of national prosperity. Even though he has surrounded himself with economic heavyweights who have impressive resumes, his plan to stimulate the economy by rebuilding our infrastructure requires a willing workforce of Americans as well as citizens open to individual volunteerism for the greater good. This is civic engagement.
Don’t forget those Obama public service announcements that encourage parents to turn off the television and video games so that we spend more quality time with our children. The remote control from the White House can’t do it, so it’s up to us to cultivate children of character armed with the education and moral fiber necessary to become the caretakers of America’s future. This is personal responsibility.
We have a duty to Barack Obama that begins in earnest from the moment he is sworn in. On that Inauguration Day, with all apologies to former President John F. Kennedy, ask not what Obama can do for you, but what you can do for America.