OK, I'll admit it. I am one of those people the president was talking about. If you have read any of my writings, you know that I am anchored by my optimism. But in the dark, rainy days of January in soggy San Francisco, I have been feeling crestfallen after so much hope in what an Obama presidency could mean to this country, uncertain that any real change was possible.
But last night's State of the Union address moved me -- back towards a place of hope. The president's emotional, smart address positioned him to move from great orator to a visionary, populist reformer -- reflected through making good on the policies he put forward. If you support Obama, the afterglow of a masterful speech, which drew legislators from both sides of the aisle repeatedly to their feet, makes it hard to imagine just how challenging it will be to give life to the many policies he proposed.
One of his most compelling statements should tip us off to just how hard this will be. The president declared:
"...I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans..." He was speaking on one particular issue, but clearly feels this way about the ocean of economic and social ills that plague our nation. The president has said recently that one good term in office is better than two safe terms in which he failed to solve the greatest problems we face as a nation. This speech made that claim even more credible for me.
And this insistence to do the right thing is at the heart of the problem for Obama. You see, not everyone feels the same way. In fact, there are some who would say Washington is mostly filled with people who'd cut their granny's prescription drug benefits to either secure their next election, or make partner at their lobbying firm.
But there are people in Washington who feel as Obama feels. And good people who vote in states around the nation, who agree with the president when he said:
"Generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard.To do what was needed even when success was uncertain. To do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren..."
The president repeatedly hit upon the theme of Americans getting the government we deserve. To deserve the kind of change the president described -- change that will ensure the integrity of the American Dream and America's most important values -- we, as a people must do our part and hold our elected officials accountable. For Democrats, this means ensuring that our representatives don't turn and "run for the hills," as the president quipped. For Republicans, it means demanding that legislators engage in good faith negotiations to find the middle ground on key proposals like health care, debt reduction and tax cuts.
Please, Mr. President, stick to your guns and gird for the fight you face to make good on your word. Embody the strength and resiliency you cited among the Americans surviving these very hard times. There are millions of Americans -- as decent and strong as you described -- ready to support you.