...But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.
Yes we can.
- Sen. Barack Obama, New Hampshire, 2007
Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, we had a president who worked tirelessly and strategically to both get Americans back to work and prevent the spread of fascism throughout the world.
FDR was smart, strategic and committed. But those qualities alone would not have lifted the United States through the darkest of those dark days. And FDR knew it.
What the American people needed was FDR's constant, strong and sincere assurance that we would get through this together. His fireside chats became the equivalent of today's must-see TV. The American people huddled around their radios, eager to hear our president reassure us that we would get through this.
FDR knew that simply putting good policies in place wasn't enough. We needed our leader to explain those policies to us in plain English and to buoy our spirits in hard times. FDR provided hope to millions of Americans through those fireside chats.
FDR regularly told millions of Americans that, yes, we can.
Fast forward to today -- which happens to be Obama's 49th birthday. Barack, once you're done celebrating... We need to hear from you!
Once again we have a country shaken by wars, economic catastrophe and other challenges unforeseen in the 1940s. Environmental degradation, terrorism, immigration and a host of other issues are all adding to the serious angst and unease the American people are feeling.
And fortunately we have a president who, like FDR, is smart, strategic and committed.
But we need more than that.
I can't help but think that a large part of the reason Americans overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama in 2008 was not simply that we knew he was smart. It was because we believed that he could provide that reassuring voice we so desperately need.
We knew we wouldn't agree with 100 percent of his policies,, but we believed that his words could lift us and carry us through the rough economic times ahead. He spoke of hope during the campaign, and we still need to hear that today.
Instead, it seems as though the president has forgotten one of the key reasons we voted for him -- and he's deprived us of one of his greatest gifts. We need him to talk to us, to reassure us and to challenge us. We need our president to do more than set a policy agenda and hope we all agree with the outcomes. We need him to come into our living rooms on a regular basis and walk us by the hand through this recession, this oil spill cleanup, this ongoing period of war and global economic struggle.
I get that in this days of disparate communications it's hard to recreate a fireside chat. But he doesn't need to overthink it! A YouTube video, or a string of emails asking me to "sign a birthday card to Barack," isn't going to make me feel connected to my leader. How about a regular series of Oval Office addresses? Even if the networks won't pick them up, we could watch them online and listen to Obama's words of hope, of passion and optimism. How about a dedicated series of public speeches, designed simply to inspire us and tell us that we will get through this?
These are still scary times, Mr. President. It's clear you're working hard and aggressively to help us dig out of this ditch we were driven into. But we need you to sweat with us and to offer us your optimistic voice of hope. The same voice of hope that captivated us back in 2007:
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world.
Yes we can.