Cross-posted with the NDN blog.
A year ago, millions of voters across America flocked to the elections polls to elect Barack Obama as our nation's president. I remember that night vividly, as it was a culmination of the longest American presidential campaign cycle in history. A campaign cycle in which a candidate, who was virtually unknown just 5 years before the election, inspired Americans to renew their Hope. He inspired Americans to renew their Hope in government, to renew their Hope in politics, to renew their Hope in each other and to renew their Hope in America.
I remember sitting in the war room for the Nevada State Democratic Party in Las Vegas analyzing exit polls and tabulating results from states across the country. The numbers coming in were indicating that this election would be won by our nominee, but having been fooled in the previous two election cycles, I waited frantically until I knew this victory was certain. As the results continued to move Obama closer to the victory margin, I ran from the war room to join my fellow Americans in celebration. I laughed, I shouted, and I even cried that night as I was so moved by what had just happened. As an American who has been fighting for civil rights and human rights for so long, and who was on the verge of losing all Hope in our country, that night changed so much for me.
That Americans were in need of Hope was no mystery. America was taken to the brink of ruin under failed leadership and governance by the previous presidential administration. The situation left Americans with not much else, but Hope. To summarize briefly, millions of Americans were without jobs or losing their job, millions of Americans lacked health insurance, our educational systems were underfunded, our infrastructure was literally collapsing, our financial systems collapsed, our auto industry collapsed, our energy sources are outdated and insufficient, and thousands of Americans were sacrificing their lives in the two wars overseas. There was not much left in America but Hope.
When the president was elected, the NY Times published a piece detailing the historic win of President Obama and noting:
The election of Mr. Obama amounted to a national catharsis -- a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama's call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country.
Last week, Mr. Obama signed defense-policy legislation that included an unrelated measure widening federal hate-crimes laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identification -- 12 years after it was first introduced. The same legislation also tightened the rules of admissible evidence for military commissions, an issue that consumed Congress in debate in 2007 but received almost no attention this go-round.
Other new measures signed into law since the administration took office, all of which kicked up controversy in past congresses, make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, set aside land in the West from development, give the government the power to regulate tobacco and raise tobacco taxes to expand health insurance for children. Congress and the White House, in the new defense-policy bill, also killed weapons programs that have survived earlier attempts at termination, among them, the F-22 fighter jet, the VH-71 presidential helicopter and the Army's Future Combat System.
If we look at the graph above, it shows that despite all the efforts of Republicans to persuade Americans to abandon their call for change, Americans remain committed to steering away from the failed policies of the previous administration. In short, America is still holding on to Hope.