An American President…for a change

The embodiment of what America can and should be stood on stage at Grant Park in Chicago late Tuesday night and accepted the prize that is rightfully his.

Barack Obama – half black, half white and all American – swept into office on the tidal wave of young voters, black solidarity and enough white dissatisfaction to send too many years of Republican regression packing.

A black man (OK, half black) will become the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. It was an event that many – myself included – predicted would never happen in our lifetimes. America is still too racist, many of us thought, and that racism, whether overt or buried, would rise up in the polls and prevent the history we saw unfold across the nation on Tuesday.

We were wrong. I was wrong and I’m happy to admit it.

As expected, Obama delivered a stirring speech from the stage, saying “Change has come to America” and promising to work to unite a nation divided by bitter, partisan differences.

His task won’t be easy and he acknowledged that from the podium, noting that he will make mistakes and promising to do something his successor never did: Admit to the American people when he is wrong.

The massive crowd of 100,000 plus in Grant Park was not all black. They were white, black, yellow and red.  They represented differing political philosophies and diverse backgrounds. They came to see history in the making and they did not go home disappointed.

Obama acknowledged that the problems facing America are daunting. He cannot, and will not, turn this nation from its self-destructive course overnight or even over the next few weeks and months. America’s decline has been years in the making and the cure will take months and years to purge this nation of the cancer that inflicts our national psyche for far too long.

We can only hope he succeeds and that the nation can unite behind him to make it happen. Obama assumes the helm of a sinking ship, battered by the storms of division and taking water from a rising tide of corruption and cynical political opportunism.

He will need help and the same American voters who put him into office also gave him a Congress that should be more receptive to his programs and ideas for change.

We, as Americans, must give the new President and Congress a chance to deliver.  We must put aside our own selfish interests, party affiliations and fears from the past.

It’s time to stop thinking as Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives or red state or blue state.  Such labels lead to division, not cohesion. Such divided loyalties breed partisanship not patriotism.

We’re Americans and in these troubled times that is, should be and must be all that matters.


  1. Malibu

    We Americans stood up and started to “Throw the bastards out!” It was a good start but we can only hope what is left in the Congress took note that the voters are waking up. This was a good start and if we maintain our teamwork here and on other sites, we might be able to bring ourselves closer to the ideals of Ron Paul.

    His agenda is to redistribute the power of the federal government down the ladder giving us all more “hands on” control. I realize that the government has all the money but they do not have much else.

    We all have a preferred agenda and mine is to stress academics in our public schools. The lack of information was so obviously exposed when Governor Palin showed little knowledge of North America or Africa. This lack of information must be corrected! This should be the responsibility of the Governors and support of the parents.

    Doug has given us a stage to hash out our opinions. We are diverse and that is a good thing!


  2. Southerner

    Human nature certainly isn’t going to change, but with some discipline and thought and hard work and sacrifice and cooperation, some of its worst aspects can at least be mitigated for a while. And working for that brief and temporary mitigation keeps some of us pleasantly amused while we stumble through our little lives to our ultimate and inevitable and unknowable doom.

    As you seem to be so painfully aware of, we’re stuck with the world as it is, and we all have pretty much the same set of flaws and shortcomings, although the percentage of distribution of those flaws varies among individuals. Yes, it’s a dreary world out there, and humans are dreadful creatures, utterly devoid of perfection, and about the only thing we can be certain of is that we’re all gonna die one day and be returned to the nitrogen cycle.

    Maybe you’ve taken Sartre and Camus too seriously, or misinterpreted Nietzsche and Kafka. There’s no escaping the fact that life sucks and then you die. But sitting around ruminating about how hopeless it all is and priding yourself in your alienation from the herds must get tiring. Life has its moments once in a while. Maybe you should take a walk in the park, or sit on a beach and watch the breakers, or ponder the stars, or get drunk, or get laid, or get a kitten or a puppy.

    But if you get your sustaining dose of self-satisfaction by knowing that you didn’t vote for McCain or Obama, well, whatever gets you through the night, I guess. We’ve all gotta take pride in something. Good luck with that.

  3. Stratocaster

    For years CHB has been an experiment in what is wrong with this country and what can be done to fix it. Doug has heard every issue and every argument and is the man with all of the answers. We apparently have an open minded president-elec that is willing to listen to the people. So when Obama asks what needs to be done to fix the country, I am going to tell him to do what I do, Just ask Doug.

  4. Ann

    I am a 64 year old and I am still trying to figure out what has happened. Yes I voted for Obama and a new way of life and a fresh start but it was bigger than I could take in. Doug you are so right but I think we have skipped and left our generation. My grandson asked me why were the white suppose to show up in the cotton field. You see he didn’t know what that means. To me that was a fresh breath of air. Our generation all knew hate and confussion. We had a president start two wars and say go shopping. The thought of that sent horror done my spine, and I thought what have we as a generation done.
    I would not have the task set before him but I am glad he has the will to try. To take American in a true direction. I have never seen what we saw all over the world. It was a great moment for our country.
    The scares this nation have brought on ourselfs yep we did it and I feel we are for once headed the right way we needed to skip my generation. I hope I live to see what happens next.
    Hate never hurt’s anyone but yourself we were taught that and boy have we learned it. Let the young and bright try and let us work with them. I am excited don’t know I can keep up with them but I really love their attitude. I wouldn’t miss this ride for anything. Yes We Can!!!!

  5. Ladywolf55

    That could very well be, Griff, and I tend to usually agree with your assessment of things. I like Ron Paul, and his ideals, but we also must face facts. We’re woefully outnumbered in our choice of who’s right and who’s wrong.

    Obama was the better of the two VIABLE offerings, and in all honesty, I believe the corporate owners did plan it this way. What better way to get the people involved, hopeful, going basically in one direction, than to shake up the status quo, but not TOO much. They were losing control of the sheeple, and this is one way to get them back in order– throw them a bone of hope. Cynical? Yes, but also realistic.

    I don’t know. I really don’t see evil in Barack Obama, the kind of evil that permeates the Bush administration. I saw, as he made his acceptance speech Tuesday night, some very SOBER thoughts running ’round in his head. His eyes were extremely solemn, not bright and happy as they had been during the campaign.

    Part of that could very well be due to thinking of his “Toot”, or his Mother, Grandfather, and all who were not there to share the triumph with him. It could be that. But somehow, I sensed there was more to it, like suddenly, he realized, looking out at the throngs of joyful supporters, just how much they were depending on him to “Fix what’s wrong, Daddy. Fix it so we don’t hurt anymore.”

    He’s intelligent, educated, and self-aware enough to realize that’s a HUGE order, and he can’t be all things to all people. I think he knows, no matter what he does, he won’t be successful in everything these throngs of people expect. No matter how much “Daddy” would like to fix it, he can’t always do so.

    This man we have elected knows more than he tells. He’s a deep river. He has the potential to be a great leader, if he can shake off the corporate owners of the USA and tell ’em to go to hell, and give American’s back the freedoms the Neocons took away. Will he do it? Time will tell, but I’m willing to give him a chance. It’s really all we’ve got at this point, as I don’t believe most citizens of the USA have it in them to form a revolution anymore.

    So far I like Barack Obama. I like his wife. I like his bearing, his demeanor, his quiet control, and his intellect. I am hoping he doesn’t let power go to his head, and I’m banking he won’t. Time will tell.

  6. freesmith

    Kudos to griff on the excellent commentary re: Ron Paul.
    I notice that the people who like to bash him don’t hold the rest of the …politicians… in office to the standard they try to hold him to. Implement his policies and we might get to experience government as defined by the Constitution for a change (and -consequently- freedom). Unfortunately, Constitutional government appears to be too “radical” for most Americans. It’s easier to dismiss him as a nutcase and then support the un-Constitutional policies of their politician of choice. Again, excellent post.

  7. gazelle1929

    That’s typical Griff. Someone disagrees with you and you simply dismiss the disagreements as “simplistic” and accuse the writer of watching too much TV.

    You continue to be long on criticism while remaining very short on offering anything like solutions. I will no longer bother responding to your posts.

  8. ekaton

    “So while we are led to believe that we have rescued ourselves from our evil government, all we have done is transfer that power to another Establishment puppet with a friendlier face and a smooth and polished delivery.”

    Well put.

    — Kent Shaw

  9. griff

    Excellent commentary on Obama. I will argue one point, though. Overpopulation is not the horrific problem as portrayed in the media. I’ll try to explain my reasonings.

    First of all, that’s what they want us to believe. Anything endorsed by the media so voluminously should be suspect immediately. They use energy and food (which corporations now control almost one hundred percent) to make us believe that the problem is us – not them.

    Secondly, the solution to a perceived overpopulation is prosperity. Populations in first-world countries are fairly stable while third-world populations are exploding. I read one study some time ago that stated America’s population would actually begin to decline around 2050 as the baby boomers died off and less births occured.

    The more prosperous and educated a people are, the more responsible they are – individually speaking. There are plenty of resources available for the people we have, we just need to regain control of them.

    I think that most people are capable of responsible consumption given real and usable information and proper education. The government and the media are incapable of delivering either.

  10. griff

    I assume you watch a lot of TV. If one would care to dig a little deeper into the reasoning behind some of these positions, maybe you would have a better understanding of the reasons behind them, instead of regurgitating simplistic media interpretaions.

    First of all, Wikipedia is riddled with propaganda and distortions. If you wish to read more on Paul’s philosophy, visit Ron Paul Library. Among other things, this site contains every speech before the House he has made, where he happened to forecast every disaster we have endured these last thirty years or so. After all, they are his own words, not hit peices.

    There are many people that believe the U.N. and W.T.O. is undermining our national sovereignty. Global interests aren’t necessarily equivalent to our national interests.

    He also supports true free trade, not the corporate-friendly and decidedly anti-Americam treaties such as NAFTA and GATT. So to argue that he is not for free trade is disingenuous and inaccurate. Even Ross Perot warned of the whooshing sounds of American jobs leaving the country because of NAFTA. Are we not realizing that right now?

    We happen to have well over a million mercenaries on the payroll right now. We have invaded two sovereign nations to catch one man. This could have easily been handled using the constitutional methods that you have deemed inappropriate, and at far less expense. This method was designed to go after “non-state entities” such as terrorists, like Al-Qaida.

    So I would asume you are a big fan of Bush’s approach. I don’t see Obama’s being drastically different.

    As for earmarks, he explained to Tim Russert his reasons for earmarks. Basically he said that until the system is changed, his constituents expect a return on their tax money investment. That’s really what it is…a reinvestment of your tax money in your own backyard. I’m sure you can find it on YouTube. So while he has a deep desire to change they system, he is still required to work within its parameters and represent his constituents accordingly. I’ll not fault him for that.

    The rest of your arguments are simplistic and shows a complete lack of initiative or desire to get beyond the propaganda. There’s a reason why he was blackballed after the final Republican debate, and banned from the one previous. Because he spoke too much truth, and dared to dive into waters that are forbidden among the Establishment candidates.

    That also helps explain why Obama was not only allowed to proceed with his false claims of change, but why he’s been heralded so effectively by the media. The same media, by the way, that heralded the Iraq war so vehemently and unquestioningly. Because the change he offers is, at best, superficial and inadequate.

    So while we are led to believe that we have rescued ourselves from our evil government, all we have done is transfer that power to another Establishment puppet with a friendlier face and a smooth and polished delivery.

  11. ekaton

    Obama? Don’t get your hopes up too high. He may be better than McCain, but thats faint praise. He is the first politician I can recall advocating bombing Pakistan. It seems that Georgie Boy has begun that campaign for him. He never states that he will draw all U.S. military and military contractors (Blackwater, Triple Canopy, Dyncorp, and many many others) out of Iraq. He considers the illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan to be a “good” war and advocates escalating it. He voted for amnesty for the telecom spies. He voted for the recent 850 billion dollar theft of tax dollars to fund a gift to huge financial corporations. And he votes to continue funding these wars and to maintain a huge military garrison of the whole world (over 700 bases in over 100 countries — what other country DOES that?!?!).

    Don’t expect much change. We have elected a black representative of the power elite. For Pete’s sake, his largest campaign contributor was Goldman Sachs.

    The steady decline of this country and the earth will continue. The most basic problem is overpopulation. This planet can comfortably support two billion people. We have almost seven billion now, soon to be 12 billion in another couple decades. The second most basic problem is human nature which includes huge helpings of the seven deadly sins. Ain’t much gonna change, folks. Ain’t much gonna change. “Hope” all you like if it makes you feel better. And, just for the record I did not vote for Obama OR McCain. At least the blood won’t be on my hands.

    — Kent Shaw

  12. rbw152

    It’s good BUT…

    of course it’s good. A mixed race President for a mixed race country. It’s perfect really. And well overdue. The most powerful country in the world has, for far too, long, been run by middle-aged or elderly white men – and never ever by a man whose name ends in a vowel. It’s history. The stuff of fiction.

    When I saw Morgan Freeman as President in ‘Deep Impact’ I thought it was a nice idea – but very unlikely. This election has turned such cynicism on it’s head and, in an echo of the moon landings when I was raised from my childish slumber to witness the event, I made sure my son watched the early morning news with me to witness this history in the making. The very first black US Prez. Amazing.

    So what’s the ‘but’? Well, I strongly suspect that, because Bush has been SUCH a disaster, many people have voted for Obama merely because he isn’t Bush, or to get Bush out. But that does not necessarily mean he’s the right man for the job, only that he benefited from a popular revulsion to the Bush administration.

    Maybe Ralph Nader would have been a better choice, or Ron Paul? Who knows?

    History has seen fit to take a different turning – I just hope it’s the right turning.

  13. Tinker

    Yes it will take more than crowds of adoring fans to change things, but it is a good thing to have a leader who can inspire the country to rise to the occasion of whatever plans or scrifices it might take to get out of the hole that Bush has put us into.

    For too long the military families have been bearing the brunt of the wars in the middle east. While in WW2 the whole country was united in the cause, Bush was unable or incapable of mounting any sort of coherent effort after 9/11 when we were for a time all on the same page. Of course he screwed everything up by attacking Iraq as well, which was when the divisions really set in.

    I’m ready to feel united in some sort of movement towards a better future. If that doesn’t yet include the left-over curmudgeons of the right wing, then at least it will get the majority of us going.

    I’ve been flying the bird at Bush for a number of years now, and I am ready to feel optimistic again, as it has been a long dry spell.

  14. gazelle1929

    We should start taking advice from Ron Paul? Here’s a sample:

    “He advocates withdrawal from the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for reasons of maintaining strong national sovereignty.”

    In other words, seek an isolationist position of the same sort that ushered in World Wars I and II because we refused to do anything to stop aggression against other nations or to participate in international affairs at all. That’s a good one!

    “He supports free trade, rejecting membership in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization as ‘managed trade’.”

    Oh, yeah, free trade worked really well for us. We put up artificial trade barriers to protect an unsustainable wage rate in the US, then discovered we couldn’t sell a damned Pinto overseas because it was way too expensive and not worth the tin it was made out of. Is that the type of free trade that Dr. Paul favors? That’s another good piece of advice.

    “{He} suggested war alternatives such as authorizing the president to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal targeting specific terrorists.”

    That’s a choice piece of advice. Let us tell the community of nations that we are going to hire mercenaries to go into other countries and kill people. Damn good thinking, Dr. Paul.

    “Paul would abolish the individual income tax by scaling back the federal budget to its 2000 spending levels; he would also rely on excise taxes and tariffs.”

    So much for free trade. You cannot have free trade and excise taxes and tariffs at the same time. On top of that such taxes are disproportionately leveed upon the poor. And if we did not import stuff how the hell would we pay for our government. Another really great idea, there, Dr. Paul.

    “Paul strongly supports Constitutional rights, such as . . . jury nullification . . ..”

    Gee, that’s another good one. First, there is in the Constitution no such thing as jury nullification. And according to the wikipedia article jury nullification means ” . . . any rendering of a verdict by a trial jury, acquitting a criminal defendant despite the defendant’s violation of the letter of the law, that is, of an official rule, especially a legislative enactment.” So Dr. Paul believes that laws are made to be broken? So if someone comes along and kills his son, but that person happens to be a good-looking redhead, the jury can arbitrarily acquit her, perhaps because she has nice boobs? We have a word for that: anarchy.

    “A free-market environmentalist, he asserts private property rights in relation to environmental protection and pollution prevention.”

    Does that mean you can pollute all you want to on private property, and if some of it leaches into another person’s back yard, tough noogies? And if you happen to own ten thousand square miles of a rain forest that is the only thing between the public and asphyxiation or acid rain it’s OK to burn off all the rain forest to plant soybeans? Good advice there, Dr. Paul.

    “. . . (I)n 2007 he requested nearly $400 million dollars in earmarks in bills he voted against.”

    Now isn’t that disingenuous?

    No, thanks anyway, but I won’t be beating down Dr. Paul’s door to get advice from him.

    Please note that Dr. Paul does have some good ideas, but these above are all taken from the wiki articles about him. I picked and chose, I’ll admit it, but the fact remains that the above are samples of advice he gives.

  15. Harve3

    In which the intrepid owner likens the problems inflicting the Republic to some nebulous cancer and predicts an extended, difficult course of treatment

    Obama acknowledged that the problems facing America are daunting. He cannot, and will not, turn this nation from its self-destructive course overnight or even over the next few weeks and months. America’s decline has been years in the making and the cure will take months and years to purge this nation of the cancer that inflicts our national psyche for far too long.

    IMAO, it takes more than the ability to turn out large crowds of adoring “fans” to cure cancers of any sort. OBTW, whoever heard of a cancer inflicting an individual psyche much less than a national one. Or perhaps this was just an inadvertent mixing of metaphors? Meanwhile, the owner has overlooked an opportunity to suggest a cure for what ails us. FWIW, from the viewpoint here America hasn’t declined, but perhaps the Blue Ridge view is different?

    Hill Country Weisenheimer

  16. Southerner

    Well said, Doug, but you’re not the only one who’s glad he was wrong. Although I strongly supported Obama, I still had doubts about whether he could pull it off, especially with the shenanigans that went on during the elections of 2000 and 2004.

    McCain’s concession speech last night was remarkable. It reminded me of why I thought he was such a decent man a few years ago. But the reaction of many of his supporters in the audience — the booing, and God knows what else we didn’t hear — was worrisome. There are some people out there today who are very, very angry about the outcome. They’re going to stew in that anger for a long time, and I worry about what may come out of that.

    I don’t know what President Obama will be able to accomplish in the time that’s alloted to him. I hope he can at least get us out of the ditch and back on the road before he leaves office. But whatever he does or does not accomplish, two things are certain in my mind.

    First, he was put into office by the people of the U.S. and their millions of small donations, and he’ll go into office without owing his election to a smaller group of wealthy and well-connected donors. That fact alone gives Obama a remarkable opportunity to govern more freely.

    Second — and this is more personal — for the first time in ages there’s a president in office who is trying to talk to me and who actually cares what I think. That is a relief beyond description.

  17. Timr

    griff. I totally agree with you. Check out my comment on the “Yes We Can” post under “After all is said and done”

  18. griff

    Nice sentiments, Doug. Unfortunately I don’t share your enthusiasm. This election did nothing but solidify and strengthen the power monopoly in this country. All we accomplished yesterday was ensure that the true causes of all our ills will remain hidden from the public for another four years.

    Unless we educate ourselves as to what these causes are, we will never be free. One thing this campaign has taught me is that the Establishment – of which Obama is firmly tethered to – will do everything in its substantial power to keep these issues from seeing the light of day.

    We can not – and must not – take for granted that our politicians – any of them – have our best interests in mind. They have a long track record for doing the exact opposite. We need to question everything and anything, honestly and with open minds.

    We must not rely on the narrow spectrum of solutions put forth by our politicians and the lap dog media, we need to broaden our scope of understanding and tackle the underlying causes. If this campaign season was any measuring stick, I don’t have much hope that we have the desire or willpower to do it.

    We are asking the same people that created all our problems to fix them. We need to start taking the advice of people like Ron Paul and others much more seriously.