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As President Obama accepted the democratic nomination for this year’s presidential election, he offered a powerful speech that very much reflected his personality and channeled the familiar, romantic hope he has shared with us throughout his presidency.
With a slight twist of pride, he argued he rescued the economy from the brink of collapse back in 2008 and then with surprising honesty, acknowledged the state of the economy would require more than the next four years to recover. However, assured us he plans to continue the revival process he has already started.
Though, for many Americans who are consumed with immediate results, his long-term goals are disappointing. Unfortunately, if the apparent issues are not immediately satisfied, they dismiss everything else. Or perhaps it is the human tendency to focus on the bad, thus ignore the good. But when Bill Clinton mocked the Republican case in his DNC speech by sarcastically saying, “We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in,” he should have directed the joke to the American people as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for the progress and solutions, however I am willing to take a step back and review. To begin with Obama has done something. Just to name a few, he pushed through the Affordable Health Care Act, created the auto bailout, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, led the killing of Osama Bin Ladin, gave many homeowners the opportunity to modify their mortgage payments to ease their debt, gave young illegal immigrants the opportunity to stay and work in this country legally, and so on.
Like he said, the path to full recovery is neither quick nor easy and Clinton agrees when he stated, “no one could have fully repaired all the damage he found in just four years.” But Obama has accomplished quite a few things and is asking for time to continue the process.
He cares. And what better promise for success than the willingness to reach it?
Romney, on the other hand, doesn’t show us the same concern. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he spoke a whole lot of nothing. His main focus was to attack Obama on the lack of progress in his term as President but did not specify how he failed, much less offered us solutions on behalf of his potential administration. Where’s the character?
Nonetheless, how can we expect progress from a man that has proven to be so disconnected from the struggles of the common people? If he cannot recognize, much less empathize, with the hardships of the middle class, we cannot expect him to address us. As commonly quoted, he just doesn’t get it.
Although Obama proves he has character and potential, he isn’t promising much either. And here is where the doubt seeps through. I am not willing to declare naiveté and blindly support Obama before acknowledging his faults either. I can perhaps argue we are better off than we were four years ago, but I can also claim we could be better. But most importantly, we should all expect better if he were to take office again for the next four years. His acceptance speech lacked specific promises and proposals. Obama triggers our optimism with hope and trust, but doesn’t give us anything to hold on to. I would like to stay on this path Obama is creating for us but we do need to put our faith on new ideals and solutions.
David Brooks presents a similar argument in his column, “Character not Audacity,” as he emphasizes Obama hasn’t showed the “fulfillment of that potential.” I couldn’t agree more. Although Obama’s words are believable because the speaker is credible, actions speak louder than words. As a country we need to rely on, not only a concerned president with the prospective power to create change, but one with the boldness to execute that power.
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