Hope in the Face of Uncertainty

11/14/2012 08:17 am ET | Updated Jan 14, 2013

Hoping that Roger Federer will win Wimbledon, that the Yankees will make the playoffs or hoping that "60 Minutes" will be on after football doesn't take much audacity. These hopes are pretty much bound to become realities. Likewise, in 2008, after witnessing a charismatic, idealistic, first-term Senator defeat an American hero in the Presidential election running on a motto of change and economic freedom for all, hoping for a better future did not take much gall. Republicans and Democrats alike -- regardless of whether or not they agreed with President Obama's policies -- believed the election of the first black president was a huge step towards racial equality in America that could perpetuate a sense of unity throughout the nation. But four years later, facing a slower than expected economic recovery and a congress that spends more time on anti-abortion legislation than investments to infrastructure, it does take audacity to hope.

When President Obama first spoke of "the audacity of hope" in his 2004 keynote speech to the Democratic National convention, he differentiated "blind optimism" ("The almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we don't just talk about it or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it") from "hope in the face of uncertainty." We should all listen to the President and maintain our hope (however difficult that may be) during these uncertain times.

Rather than looking at these past two years and dismissing the possibility of Republicans and Democrats working together to create real, concrete change, we should fight to change the status quo (cue "High School Musical") of gridlock in Washington. After all, hope alone won't pass legislation. As then-Senator Barack Obama went on to say in his speech, in an ideal America, "hard work is rewarded." And that's what it will take for Washington to listen to us. We should work together -- sending letters, protesting on the streets, making phone calls -- to prevent tax rates from going up on middle class Americans at the end of the year; something almost all of us agree on. We should communicate to our elected officials that they must join the President and provide a permanent pathway to citizenship for immigrants' children. And we should demand that carbon emissions are regulated and climate change is slowed down.

When President Obama delivered his victory speech last week, he restated the famous refrain of his 2004 address: "We remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States." In choosing to invoke memories of his 2004 speech last week, President Obama showed us he was willing to look to the past for guidance on how to lead the country going forward. And I am more than willing to join him in looking back to 2004 -- a time when universal healthcare in America was an unrealistic ideal and the idea of a black president was far-fetched. President Obama has made both of those then-abstract ideals realities in his four years in office. The speech the president delivered last week left me feeling the same way I felt in 2004 watching him at the DNC and in 2008 when he won the election: hopeful. And if that makes me audacious, awesome.