By Frank Schaeffer
I happen to be a white fifty-seven-year-old former lifelong Republican. President elect Obama is the first Democratic Party presidential candidate I ever voted for. I am hoping that others will join me in taking this "pledge" and commit to a new level of support for our new president. This pledge might appear to some people to be naive. But what we face calls for idealism and faith.
We find ourselves in the position of survivors of a shipwreck clinging to a life raft. President elect Obama is that "life raft," for better or worse. We are asking our young president to lead us at a time of extraordinary peril. He and we face overwhelming challenges including two wars and a financial crisis. Moreover we are a bitterly divided people. In these circumstances normal political squabbles must be laid aside in order to unite in a common effort for our survival. Patriotism demands this. So does common sense.
We therefore pledge that--
We will... Lay aside the culture war debates that have so poisoned our country on issues from abortion to gay rights, prayer in schools to public displays of religious symbols, etc. We do not believe that these issues are unimportant let alone resolved, but we know that if we fight amongst ourselves at this critical time we risk destroying our country.
We will... Honor our new president's requests when he calls upon us to sacrifice, be it to volunteer for military service or for civilian programs, or to change our consumer lifestyles in favor of an environmentally sustainable way of life, or to pay higher taxes.
We will... Be patient, realizing that the challenge facing our country is unprecedented because it combines economic, social and military problems coalescing into one of the most toxic periods of history any new president has faced. So we pledge to give the new administration the breathing room to do what is necessary. We will not demand instant success.
We will... Ask President Obama's opponents and detractors, be they in Congress, the media, or in our neighborhoods, to join us in giving our new president an unprecedented measure of latitude in keeping with the unprecedented problems we face.
We will... Give President Obama's administration the benefit of the doubt when our president initiates policies we may personally disagree with but that are part of his overall recovery plan.
In conclusion: President elect Obama, thank you for risking so much for us in our sadly violent country with its tragic history of racism and assassination. We are proud of your personal courage. We ask you to count on us. We know that you must do the near impossible and simultaneously address our economic and educational meltdown, two wars, the environmental cataclysm, find ways to give us energy independence, restore our prestige around the world, reform our health care system... and bring us together!
For the sake of our country we are united in supporting you -- no matter who we voted for. We, white and black, male and female, gay and straight, religious and secular, conservative and liberal, of all races and creeds, believe that you have been extruded by history "for just such a time as this."
Shakespeare wrote: "There is a tide in the affairs of men that, when taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." January 20, 2009, is "high tide." Be bold! Hit the ground running! We've got your back.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy For God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back (Now in Paperback).