“Hope and change”: That’s what we were sold four years ago, and millions of Americans were eager consumers. For many, that meant filling a blank canvas that was Barack Obama with the policy agendas and bully-pulpit causes we believed the would-be president should champion.
Solve the foreclosure crisis. Break the partisan logjam on Capitol Hill. Insert your “hope and change” wish here.
I think it’s fair to say some of us have been disappointed. “Hope and change” haven’t been easy to come by. Reality sure can be a wet blanket on a fire of enthusiasm. Indeed, Washingtonians
believed the former community organizer should be with us. But what did that get D.C. residents with this president? A lack of real support for voting enfranchisement. We also heard the reports that the leader of the free world traded away yet another piece of the District’s already-limited home rule in deference to Republicans during budget negotiations.
So much for “hope and change.” We liked that he and his family patronized local businesses, but we were looking for a little more.
But watching the president’s speech Thursday night gave me a sense that he’s mindful of this and that he’s going to do everything he can to make sure the next four years will be the fulfillment of his lofty dream.
“It will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades,” he said in his acceptance speech. “It’ll require common effort, shared responsibility and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.”
What the president meant is what I believe, too. Yes, many have been lukewarm in their enthusiasm, but it’s time to get to work.
“Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place,” he said in Charlotte before tens of thousands “And I’m asking you to choose that future.”
Indeed, while the nation’s job growth has been below levels hoped for, this can be a hard sell. But at least the nation has seen years of private-sector job growth, albeit slow. But remember: When the president was sworn in, the nation was losing more than 700,000 jobs a month. Remember when no one thought there was any chance getting of meaningful health-care reform passed in the nation? Remember when Osama bin Laden was releasing tapes like underground rappers?
The president reminded us of that Thursday, and we shouldn’t take for granted that he could be a one-term president.
Keep in mind that Obama came into office with Rush Limbaugh and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — leading voices in the Republican Party — making it clear they wanted the president to fail, and their goal was to make him a one-term president. This was before he had even settled into office. It’s tough to bring about meaningful bipartisanship when the opposition party makes it public from the start that its plan is to work for your failure.
I hope that any wavering Democrats or Obama supporters also remember that presidential elections are judgments on the performance of an incumbent and a choice between two candidates. Remember that elections have consequences.
The philosophies of the two national parties have been fairly consistent in core areas for years. A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for reducing government, lessening regulation of businesses, letting the market have its way, reducing taxes for the wealthiest and taking a strong/domineering role in international affairs. If that’s what you think will work to bring about the hope and change you wanted to see with Obama, then Romney’s your candidate.
Indeed, you may decide that Romney is the way to go. Be clear though — if you believe Obama would be better — don’t let the disappointments of what many thought would be a “brand new day” keep you from working hard to ensure we at least get better days than we would otherwise get. There are plenty of meaningful improvements for the nation that can be had if Obama supporters don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Best believe Romney’s supporters aren’t letting the lack of the perfect stop them from putting in work.
David Bowers is a native Washingtonian and ordained minister who works in the affordable housing industry.
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