On November 4th 2008, America took an Olympic stride towards a more perfect union. The most coveted office in the land, in the most famous house on Earth, was soon to be officially occupied by the most unlikely of candidates. The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States was no accident, however.
His vision of the future was uniquely hopeful, shared, and compassionate. His message resonated deep into the psyche of all who cared to listen, and there were many. President Obama tapped into one of the most fundamental elements of the human spirit: the need to feel connected rather than separate. This need transcended the spirit of the American people, for it reached deep into the consciousness of citizens all across the world. "We are the ones we've been waiting for," proclaimed the once-unknown Chicago Senator. And while many of us are preoccupied with analyzing the successes and failures thus far of the first African-American atop the Executive Branch, we seem to have forgotten the we in this analysis.
Representing the impatient idealism at the core of our instincts, Mr. Obama led the charge of change all the way to the White House. But Mr. Obama is not the whole story; he is merely half of it. The backbone of his victory, brilliantly captured in the new HBO documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, highlighted the tremendously dedicated team of foot soldiers working around the clock to ensure a triumphant finish.
President Obama's army of advocates must take ownership of this victory and refrain from undue criticism--it is both unhelpful and counterproductive. You elected him because he represented you. Now it's time you represented him. Real change against the status quo is extremely difficult, and requires proactive engagement, strategic patience, and enduring resilience--the very characteristics of his campaign.
Whether it's bringing about universal health care or recalibrating the strategy in Afghanistan, supporters of the President must not only be informed, but they must also be informing. A vibrant public discourse is essential to a healthy democracy, and with countless first-time voters siding with Mr. Obama, continuous involvement in the public sphere is critical to ensuring the President's success. However, following the President blindly is dangerous, but having an educated opinion is not. And if there's one thing President Obama has taught us, it is that words matter. The first round of this fight goes to Barack Obama; after all, he is now the Leader of the Free World. His supporters will determine the second round, and that chapter has yet to be written.
While the strategy and scope of the campaign to elect Mr. Obama was enormously exhausting, the true test of allegiance began the day after. With a litany of crises to deal with, now more than ever, President Obama needs his army of advocates once more to continue the fight for change. Embodying the very ideals we demand of ourselves, Mr. Obama is relying on his supporters to carry his message to the far-reaching corners of the nation, and the electorate has a national responsibility to do just that. Without such efforts, the American people cannot criticize President Obama if they themselves have yet to fulfill their obligation as citizens. This week, we must not only reflect on Mr. Obama's historic victory, but we must also evaluate our own pledge to the President and all his endeavours from the day he took office. One year ago, a nation of hopefuls made that promise. Now, we must ask ourselves, have we kept that promise?
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