One Moment in Time, One Leader, Two Divergent Paths

This week, NASA’s Kepler Mission discovered almost 70 planets that could possibly sustain life.  Having witnessing the constant parade of disappointing and destructive events on this planet, I sure hope that someday we will have interplanetary choices as to where we want to live.  Should these explorations turn up alternative physical worlds, there still would be no guarantee that their inhabitants would be any more philosophically enlightened than the people of our earth.  Bummer.  The only alternative left therefore, is to deal with our playpen here on earth.

I have observed two phenomena that need to be discussed.  On one hand, on the international scene, we have humankind thrusting Barack Obama into the role of global leader.  On the other hand, the domestic forces are trying to delegitimize, neutralize and oust him from office.

First of all, I do believe that Barack Obama is being looked up to as a world leader.  Our sorry state of affairs globally has produced the desire for ideological, economic and political integration.  People are responding to President Obama’s intellectual capacity, vision, hope for the future and his cool, measured demeanor.  Unfortunately, this craving for a competent international leader can be a blessing and a curse for the chosen individual.  During the recent upheaval in Egypt and its surrounding region, the world has read, witnessed and awaited with bated breath any and all responses from President Obama, as if it is possible for one man to save us.  That is the curse, i.e. an unrealistic expectation that one person can change our circumstances.  The blessing part is that if our earthly domain can be saved, mainly from our own selves, Barack Obama is the individual with the best shot at it, mainly because he is well aware that any betterment demands work, sacrifice and compromise from all of us.  He does have good ideas and he has the talent to motivate people.

As leader of one of the strongest nations, the American President has always been expected to set the example and deliver for all of humanity.  However, and feel free to correct me if I am wrong, I do not have a sense that the world looked up to Clinton and Bush II as global role models.  Yet during the last few weeks of turmoil abroad, the echos that remain in my head are “What will Obama do?  How will he react to Mubarak?”  Every move President Obama made and did not make with regard to Egypt was charted, broadcasted and analyzed.  His reactions took on a life of their own, almost as if his words and actions took precedence over the revolution in Egypt.  It is almost as if the world is waiting for President Obama to well, lead.  As I said, a curse and a blessing.

The second trend I have become aware of  ( one would have to be dead not to have noticed) is that despite the international elevation of Barack Obama to world leader, the domestic forces here at home are doing all that is possible to denounce this leader and his abilities.  While the world craves President Obama’s leadership skills, his own country (at least half of the population) hungers for his downfall.  The GOP has been ideologically bankrupt now for years.  Of course their single mission is to diss the President’s leadership and thus, his power.  Without even a hint of proposals as to how to better this nation, their aim is simply to remove Obama from office.  They are the epitome of a vacuum of strategies, an insult to their job descriptions and a blight on the future of their country.

As if coming out of the severe recession has not been debilitating enough for the U.S., we had many problems before this economic decline that were begging for solutions.  President Obama’s oratory skills have laid the foundation for what we need.  However, he has not just propounded verbally on the issues, such as health care reform, climate control, infrastructure repair, nuclear disarmament, education investment, but has actually delivered on most of these issues.  This success has angered the opposition even further.

Upon taking back the House majority last November, the GOP offered as their first legislation the repeal of health care reform and the repeal of abortion rights.  No other, forward-looking platforms were offered; not an item placed on their agenda that faced our growing problems, such as immigration reform, lack of competitive education that would foster our dwindling innovation and of course, jobs, jobs and jobs.  Instead, the GOP looks backward to rehash the same old issues which have already been legislated, such as decent and affordable health care and reproductive rights.  The Republicans are about all that is regressive and nothing that is progressive.

As John Edwards (before his libido overtook his sanity) said a few years ago, America is falling victim to a debilitating dichotomy, which can add to our nation’s decline here and abroad:

Today, under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America – middle-class America – whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America – narrow-interest America – whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a president.

  • Excerpt from stump speech, 2004 presidential primary campaign

Robert Reich echoed the same sentiments today.  It is an untenable position for the U.S. to have two tiers of citizenship, one for the top 10% of earners and another for the rest of us.  Social and political unrest will get the upper hand if this divide persists.

This is a huge reason why President Obama’s State of the Union address was so prescient.  When he spoke of America not sufficiently investing in education and thus, losing its innovative edge in the world, he hit the crux of the matter.  California, a state formerly capable of luring big business, plenty of jobs and cutting edge innovation is almost a lost cause today.  With a state budget deeply in the red, the promise of a prosperous future for incoming companies just is not there.  Additionally, take Fresno as an example of just how far American innovation has sunk.  There are plenty of jobs available there, but a dearth of educated, qualified people to fill them.  This is a sad commentary on the state of our union.  The cure for this serious problem will not appear by just coasting along and ignoring it.  Specific steps, firm fixes, must be set in motion to reverse this downward decline.

Even though our unemployment rate fell to 9% this week, I am of the mind that most of the lost jobs are not coming back.  We need to step up to the plate and offer our workers a living wage so that the jobs shifted offshore can return home.  Additionally, re-training and a new committment to education must be pursued.  I am totally aware of the spiralling costs involved.  Perhaps we could trim back our defense budget (like not paying $700 a crack for toilet seats or coffee makers at the Pentagon) to raise money for these other needs.  Investing in our future for new jobs accompanied by a pledge for innovation is surely just as patriotic as developing new weapon systems, tanks and war planes.

As our President pointed out, we have reached a “Sputnik moment” in time.  We are faced with a series of knotty problems, which developed and were ignored over the last number of decades (basically from the Reagan administration on).  Now we must develop and re-define our national goals, coupled with a reasonable agenda to address them.  Sacrifice will be a large part of this effort, as will be the re-allocating of federal funds to implement our current needs.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the circumstances in the Middle East just might be the perfect storm for global unrest to spread.  Looking inward, I believe that such efforts for equality, justice and freedom that we are seeing in Egypt are also a warning for Americans at home.  Just as a transition of power is necessary in Egypt, so is an evolution, a modulation, of pertinent issues and answers necessary on our own home turf.

It is indeed ironic that while the world is crying out for leadership, the United States is fighting tooth and nail against any leadership that calls for a new, more relevant agenda.  While the world is building up Barack Obama, America is tearing him down.  Please NASA, just find me another planet that I can go to.  And hurry.

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2 Responses to “One Moment in Time, One Leader, Two Divergent Paths”

  1. NatalieR Says:

    Cannot correct you when you are ABSOLUTELY right!

  2. NatalieR Says:

    FABULOUS writing about the irony of this nation. A world looks to our president to uplift them and 1/2 of our intellect -compromised nation looks to defeat him. This is utterly mind numbing.

    When you find that other planet, save a seat!

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