At the time of writing, I’m reviewing the myriad of final polling data that indicates we’re headed toward an Obama presidency. While I don’t agree with all of Barack Obama’s stated positions, I do believe that he is someone who can help usher in the kind of systemic change necessary to position the progressive Left to make real accomplishments for equity. To be clear, any new president is walking in to an age-old structure and political power system in Washington that was originally erected explicitly to disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and people on the fringes of society. It will take more than one individual’s leadership to change this system, and that’s where the rest of us come in.
Watching the Obama phenomenon over the past two years, I was prepared to write a cautionary personal tale about campaigning for Bill Clinton in 1992 and the disappointment of his subsequent presidency. But this happened to many involved in politics at that time: we believed so strongly in Clinton’s message of change that we trusted getting him into office would be sufficient enough to reverse the course of 12 preceding years of Republican damage. We dropped the ball.
Regardless of whom will reside in the Oval Office come January, we need to remember to fight like hell until we can’t fight anymore for the policies and practices that will ensure genuine equity in the United States. We haven’t won the game by getting Obama elected, nor have we lost it should McCain take office. In either case, likely newly-minted Democratic majorities in the House and Senate need to be pushed to not fall for the false belief that we’re a “center-right” country.
Whether the Left wakes to elation or disappointment on November 5, will we also remember that with the new president comes our relentless responsibility to shake off the weariness of election season and move forward full steam ahead in putting our vision, our plan, our ideas and our hopes into the new administration? Not after the first year, not after the first 100 days, not after the first month, but from the day our new president walks in the door.
To me, it’s a simple answer.
Only we can be in control of our political and economic destiny in a new administration. We can’t afford to stifle new ideas, put new policy approaches on hold, curb our demand for equity until we feel the timing is right, or acquiesce to an agenda driven by Washington instead of one driven by us.
An ascendant President Obama can be both a symbol of a new United States and a rallying call for the progressive Left. Don’t drop the ball again.