*President Barack Obama’s second State of the Union address last week offered us a glowing reminder of why we elected him the 44th President of these (dis)United States. A remarkable display of reason, logic, results and yes, HOPE, all wrapped up into one, President Obama disarmed even a cynical Congress with its new “hostile majority” in the House.
In the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt and emboldened by the landslide shift that included radical “tea-partiers,” the expectation was that civility would be a less than gallant exploration. Rationality is rarely able to check irrationality. But the President posture and precision made even the Republicans grow up. At least for a few minutes. They were back at it in the post address response(s). The point here though is that President Obama went in with a swagger that was hard for the Republicans to match.
Every silly rationalization the right (both rights, Republicans and Tea Partiers) used to suggest the country wasn’t on the road to recovery was dismissed. And every reason they have used to rationalize that government spending to reinvent in our economy and infrastructure was rebutted by the President’s vision for our future (our “Sputnik moment,” as Obama called it). We couldn’t help but glow as the President nailed one point after the other on why our HOPE is in our future, not in our past.
On education, immigration, the green environment, and of course, jobs, President Obama helped even Republicans understand that the only way the country was going to move ahead was, together. We are handcuffed to one another in this economy, throughout the world, and the Republicans insist on pulling away from him. It makes them look more foolish than rational. More like followers than leaders. The results speak for themselves. Rhetoric has to take a bow to the progress he is making, and that the American people are seeing. I think I was more impressed that he kept us looking forward rather than backwards.
The Republicans insist on looking backwards, in a selective kind of way, to that late 20th Century political methodology we call Reaganomics (where it all began for them, including the deficit building), a budget slashing disaster that turned the economy around after millions of jobs were lost, $700 billion was cut from the budget (mostly from social programming) and a snarly arrogance that ignored the damage it was doing. Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, couldn’t sustain Reaganomics and had to break a campaign promise of Read my lips. No new taxes,” causing him to become a one term President. Obama reminded the nation that our technological innovation was once the best, but that was then and this is now. It is no longer the best and what we once was is what we can be again, but is not what we currently but is not what we currently are. The Republicans have been so busy looking back they couldn’t see the future. That’s why they missed the coming of Obama. Now they about to miss the second coming of Obama.
Every time you see Obama, we have to remind ourselves that this is our time. We can’t let the old ideas of yesterday, and the stale voices of the past, be our SOLE guide to the future. We have to remind the “old heads” that we have ideas too. We’ve tried yours. Now let’s try ours. Even new faces rooted in old ideology are a threat to leading us into the future. That’s what the Tea Partiers are, new faces rooted in a dated ideology. It’s a terrible thing when you watch the future try to waste the future on past ideas that didn’t work, even in the past. I was driving down Crenshaw last weekend and saw the past of our community try to convince the community to ignore its future. They sat out there gum-bangin’, telling people to “bring it on,” and their ideas are long gone. They just sitting in office enriching themselves while they let somebody else try to figure it out the public’s problems for them. Some of our community leaders don’t even know time has past them by. You see it in Washington and you see it in our communities, emerging leadership having to outthink the same generation you once respected. You saw that President Obama gave Congress much respect last week. They had to strain to give it back. On the community level, they never give it to you. You have to straight up take it—and that’s no problem. It is what it is. Our generation is up to the challenge. The President is showing that. And we’re seeing on the state and local levels too. Change will run over those who stand in its way. Some we have to take with us, kicking and screaming. And we will.
We just can’t lose sight of the fact that it is our time. Our time to take the nation forward, our time to build new horizons beyond a prior generation, and our time to shine.
Shine on, Mr. President.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.