As President-elect Barack Obama has put together his cabinet and advisers, the response has been a combination of praise and wariness. For the latter, it's generally raised the question of what he owes the left.
The answer is nothing.
To be clear, I'm hardly enamored with everyone who's been selected or rumored thus far. But then, I recognize that there are a range of concerns needed to be addressed that might actually be different from my own...
Yes, the blogosphere was critically helpful in getting Barack Obama elected. But of course, so were African-Americans. And Hispanics. And young voters. And even white suburbanites. Yet surprisingly, in a post election analysis, Chuck Todd of MSNBC noted that if you took away the votes of any one of these groups, Barack Obama still would have won the election.
But even that's beside the point. Although some people work and vote for a candidate because of "what's in it for me?", most do so because they admire what issues the person stands for, and the ability the candidate has in bringing as many of those issues to fruition.
Remember this later. More in a bit.
When there's been criticism of a few if the nominees, some has been fair, but most often it's been, "This isn't the change we voted for!" However - in fact, it is, and the complaint misses the point of what that change was supposed to be. It was obvious to me that the Obamanian Change was change from the policies of the Bush administration, and change from how politics have been run in Washington, where only blind-loyalists are hired and any dissenting voice is crushed and presented to the American public as treason.
Within weeks of being elected, this is precisely the change we've gotten from Barack Obama. Almost immediately came word that Mr. Obama is looking at 200 signing statements from President Bush to overturn. Important issues like stem cell research, torture, Gitmo, EPA standards, and much more. And further, the very names causing the most question are those who most-demonstrate how the Obama way of doing business is another universe from Washington as usual. If there are some people more moderate or even Republican being named, politics aside, how utterly refreshing to find an openness of attitude, as opposed to locked-in ideologues. How joyous to know that disagreement will not only be tolerated, but required. And in the end, as Mr. Obama has stated, it will be his proposals that are pursued. That's the direction the nation will be getting - that's the change.
But it goes further. It was remarkable to hear Mr. Obama recognize that 47% of the country didn't vote for him. Let us not forget the reaction when George Bush was elected over a 48% opposition and said he was going to administer America from that mandate. It was not only a galling attitude, it derailed up the country. It's a powerful indication of leadership for Barack Obama to understand that the nation still has an element of divide, and to accomplish his goals - to actually lead America, not just make wildly-unpopular signing statements - he needs to build an even stronger consensus.
This is no small matter, accomplishing goals. Bringing his issues to fruition, as noted above. You can come into office with the most noble ideals, but if you can't get them passed, what matter? Just ask Jimmy Carter. Ask Hillary Clinton about health care. From his appointments thus far - and we've yet to see the full list - Barack Obama has shown what he's most interested in is getting issues passed.
Fixing the economy. Ending the Iraq War. Universal healthcare. Global warming. Creating a green industry. And more. These are what matter. Getting them passed through Congress.
There is so much to accomplish right now in America, which 81% say has gotten off-track, and it has to be accomplished amid economic crisis and two wars. Facing regular battles from political opponents, if Barack Obama can ease just some of that by showing fairness in his appointments, then those are fewer battles to fight while dealing with the major issues. And a nation's critical problems demand the most talented people - not the Alberto Gonzaleses, the Monica Goodlings, the Harriet Miers and Brownies of the world. Knowing that there is no easy solution out of these problems, it's all the more essential to bring divergent voices addressing all possible solutions, rather than force-feed a nation an intolerant leadership than only drags America down into its hole.
Again, to be clear, there are some different people I'd prefer on the Obama team. But what I am an admirer of is the level of expertise.
And in the end, that's what Barack Obama owes me. Owes any American. After eight years of George Bush running the nation solely on what he owes his base, how wonderful to have a president who understands that his base is the United States of America. And the only thing a president owes every citizen is a better America when he leaves office.
Anyone who doesn't understand that this is the Barack Obama they supported, then they haven't been following his career close enough. Because the very first thing most Americans learned about Barack Obama was when he very clearly told the nation at the 2004 Democratic Convention - "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America."
The first time you saw him, Barack Obama told you who he was. And that was it. And now, he is now elected to lead that base. The United States of America.
And what a change that is from the past four years.