Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Obama Needs to be a Different President This Time

Barack Obama will be our President for the next four years. You could hear the collective sigh of relief from Americans who dreaded a Romney victory. For many of us, however, an Obama victory was a sure thing, simply because he was the better candidate for the country.

But this victory comes with a price. Obama has no George Bush to blame this time. He will have to deliver on the economy and heal a nation that has probably never been this polarized. He has indicated that he is not interested in leaving a legacy, that his only goal is to do what's best for America and then exit the stage. But it is far easier said than one. The next four years will test Obama like he has never been tested before. If "Great things are done when men and mountains meet," Obama will have to be meet and conquer the many mountains that await him.

Something is terribly wrong with America now. The gap between the affluent 1% and the remaining 99% is deeper  and wider than the Grand Canyon. Education is on the ropes. Those who contribute most to keep our nation humane are rewarded the least for their efforts. Our values are awry. We fritter our creative energies away pursuing the trivial and the insignificant. Even Silicon Valley's innovations empower the affluent and the powerful far more than they empower those who need it most. Equality has become an empty word and justice a dream.

President Obama has to work to set things right. He should reduce his oratory and direct his energy to making fundamental changes in the way we distribute wealth among the citizenry. He has to curb the bottomless greed of the bankers and the Wall Street executives. He has to make education a priority by putting in place metrics that measure authentic learning and creativity in our classrooms. He needs to reach out to the Republicans but not at the expense of his vision or agenda. If the Republicans reject his overtures, he has to take his case directly to the American people and move on.

Mitt Romney has a role to play as well. By conceding graciously and uniting with the president to focus on common goals for the country, he can redeem himself and his party. At the very least, he can contribute by not engaging in negative attacks on the president. He can become a better person by accepting the tough lessons of the campaign and by helping to temper the extremist elements of the his party.

Tomorrow will indeed be another day for the 44th President of the United States. And, we hope, a better one for the majority, since it will be impossible to satisfy all.

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