Monday, November 10, 2008

Well Done

A remarkable event occurred this past week. A man of (at least half) African American heritage was elected President of the United States. I'm turning 50 in the next year and it's safe to say this is the second most significant (positive) event outside my marriage and children in my lifetime. The first was the Apollo Moon landing in 1969.

The reason this is so significant to me is that I have seen first hand from family to friends, to the general public, the rampant racism that existed in the area I grew up. It was inconceivable to me 20 years ago that this would happen. I would have bet someone of Asian descent would have been elected before a black man. Thank God I was wrong.

Barack Obama is not a super human. On the contrary, he is a very ordinary person. He, like many of the people in this country worked to achieve his success. He wasn't the scion of a political family like the Kennedys or the Bushes. He wasn't a bazillionaire like Warren Buffet or Mike Bloomberg. He's a pretty ordinary guy. Except that he's a pretty extraordinary guy as well. Everyone not living under a rock the last 2 years knows his story of being of modest means growing up with a single mom and being raised by his grandparents. Sidebar: Mr. President - elect, my sincere condolences on the loss of your grandmother. I'm very sorry she didn't get to witness your success.

Mr. Obama blew past conventional wisdom and prejudice with his victory. Not only is he black, he's a first term senator with little Washington experience. Does he have the judgement, intelligence, coolness under fire and the heart to lead? I think so. I hope so. Time will tell. It will be very important that Mr. Obama's first term starts off better than Bill Clinton's. The "Man from Hope" started off badly, and lost the congress as a result. Clinton eventually found his sea-legs and was able to achieve a second term and overall a good presidency, but it was a rocky start. Obama will not have the chance to "take his time". This is not the 1990's. We have a serious economic crisis already with us. We are fighting two wars. We have a country that has been led by an administration singularly focused on the betterment of a small sub-set of the populace to the detriment of the larger portion of the country.

Mr. Obama is young, energetic, passionate and smart. He will need all of these qualities plus the added benefit of surrounding himself with the best and brightest. It's time for the competent and the intelligent to come to Washington and help. Not just the most loyal. Loyalty is a wonderful trait, and Mr. Bush demanded this above all else. Mr. Obama must take a different path. He must build his team with differing opinions but respect for the fact that the new president is the "decider". I believe Mr. Obama is comfortable enough in his own skin that he can have his advisers disagree with him without being considered disloyal.

Mr. Obama really has nothing to prove except that he will keep his promises to the people of this country. He has already achieved success that truth be told, he probably never expected.

Well done Mr. President-elect.