Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Obvious Post

There can't be a blog about change without mentioning Obama's election! I mean, I'm sure there is one somewhere, but it's probably run by someone lazier than me who started neglecting it way back in 2006 or whatever, not just last month.

Change being the buzzword of the campaign, I'm surprised my blog didn't suddenly get a politically-crazed stream of visitors demanding to know how I linked my ideas about change and Obama's plans for change. In fact, as I am a politically crazed visitor myself, I'm surprised I didn't encounter my own blog when I obsessively googled and blog-hopped for election updates in the weeks leading up to November 4.

But there was nothing out there giving me inspiration to write, instead of read, until Obama's victory speech. I thought that he said something really brave and probably prescient. And risky. It was:

"This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change."

Buried as it was amongst barely veiled correlations between his election and the end of slavery, the New Deal, WWII ending, Martin Luther King's rise, a man walking on the moon, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, it stood out. Nobody I know agrees with me on this evaluation, but I did think the speech as a whole was a little bit overselfcongratulatory; not that this achievement wasn't an amazing step forward, but, I don't know, maybe just let someone else congratulate and praise you, you know? Especially if you're going to bring World War II and the Berlin Wall into it. However, that one lone sentence showed that he knew that just getting elected wasn't the end. That he didn't have the mindset of, well, I got elected, now I can relax my rhetoric and go back on all my promises, or at least pretend that everything I've said has already come to pass.

It would have been easy, and would have relieved, at least temporarily, much of the enormous pressure that's on him as president-elect, to simply imply that getting elected WAS the change America sought. People were ready to hear it, because they'd been reading about it, knocking on doors for it, volunteering for it, and generally using it as a goal. People probably wouldn't have called him out on it. They were all ready to rest after an exhausting campaign.

But instead, he chose to remind everyone that the actual change would take place only once he took office, appointed officials, started vetoing/approving bills, etc., only he put it in much more daunting terms, painting the picture of his coming presidency as a challenge that would be filled with obstacles to overcome and big, messy problems to solve. This only served to remind everyone of the heavy load of expectations resting squarely on Obama's shoulders, and made the load even heavier (or at least more towards the forefront of people's minds).

I thought that was brave, and not at all the easy way out.

I sort of liken this stage of the Obama presidency to New Years Resolution time in the life of us regular people (or you regular people anyway; I tend to make my resolutions at random times throughout the year). We've taken the time to get a piece of paper, find a working pen, and think about a list of resolutions are most important to follow through with. We have the paper hanging on our wall, decorated with curlicues. We've bought our gym membership, we've signed up for dance class, we've primed our abusive boyfriend's stuff for its new home on the front lawn, we've drafted the letter of resignation to the job we hate. But January 1 hasn't come yet, so it hasn't gone any further than that. We can't yet exactly say we've made a change. Per se. But we've made something.

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