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Suzanne O'Keeffe Headshot

Change? Yes, We Meant It

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Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit

Obama has been frustrating me completely. On Inauguration Day, Obama won the Super-Lotto of political wealth. But, like a lotto winner who doesn't move out of his 3-bedroom tract house, Obama has spent virtually none of it. Well, maybe he bought a plant for the porch.

Was there some fine print on the lottery ticket that said, "Winnings For Display Purposes Only, Not Intended for Actual Use"? Did I miss the e-mail for Audacity-Removal Day?

The corrupting influences invested in the status quo have paralyzed Congress. Lawmakers keep trying to stuff the same bland meals, all filled with pork, down the American throat. They're catering to the behemoths lodged in the corner, threatening to close down the restaurant if they don't get exactly what they ordered.

Maybe they don't get it. We're not buying this meal anymore.

Then it struck me. This paralysis is not about Obama, or even about Congress. This is about us.

Change -- real, actual purifying change -- was the mantra of the election. We rallied around it, we called for it, we fantasized about it. And then, it happened. We succeeded.

During the campaign, many supporters -- from the basic petition forwarders to those trekking to Nevada on 110-degree weekends -- held a secret thought deep inside: "We'll never actually pull this off."

Astonishment, as much as joy, raced through the nation's nerve endings on election night.

Deep inside there was a voice: "Damn, did we just do that? We just elected a black man who says he's committed to fundamentally changing Washington... whoa!" Somewhere inside, the magnitude of what we'd done freaked us right out.

Fundamental change is a big idea to wrap your emotions around, even when you're certain the path you've been on is headed right off the cliff. We needed to absorb it: Did we really mean change?

Our collective brakes went on, cueing the haters, the reactionaries, those who ridicule the desire for change, those promising to take us back to a mythical time when things were "good." All our worst fears rushed onto the road in front of us.

In previous times in history, this was the point at which we turned back. Met with stiff resistance and deep frustration, we got scared, went into despair and abandoned the goal. Here is the opportunity to choose again.

The end looks like the beginning.

We hesitate now because this is uncharted territory. The established interests have been running things for so long we have little concept of what it's like to be free of their money-driven, corrupting influence. We feel unprepared in facing the challenge dislodging them poses.

Obama needs to show the sword, point to the mountain and charge ahead of everyone. But that may not happen. By all indications, he's been cut off at the pass. We can't count on it.

We can't wait for it. The fire in us needs to take us up the hill. The blaze that caught hold during Obama's candidacy makes the way for him, not the other way around. It can leap over any barricade.

At any rate, we cannot turn back. Change is upon us. The anger simmering in the country feels about as comfortable as an ominous dark alley. We cannot stay here.

In our decision, we will find the answers and breathe light back into hope. What we chose then, we still want now. Our year of pause is done. Fears evaporate. This time we go forward.

We meant change, and we still do.