Chicago, Illinois Tuesday, January 10th 2017.
Chicago’s spacious venue McCormick Place was bursting at the seams with a raucous Tuesday night crowd of some 20,000 supporters. They, the nation, and the world at large, were treated to a wonderful final speech by the outgoing 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. His transcendent talent for inspirational oratory is unmatched in modern political history. The way in which he and his entire family conducted themselves as tenants of the White House with class, dignity, compassion, and kindness represents the very best of American ideals. His resilience in the face of not only unprecedented political obstructionism, but paper thin veiled racism, even as President, is nothing short of remarkable. Never forget that the office of American President demands exceptionalism as a core foundation. President Obama was not perfect, he like every President before him, has suffered the pain of loss, and disappointment. When he took office some eight years ago on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, the United States economy was in virtual free fall (and the world with it). We survived that crisis, by following his lead, and moving past the self defeating cynicism of the opposition. If the GOP had it’s way there would only be a Ford Musuem in Detroit today, and not the thriving car producing factories that exist. Policy disagreements aside, I would have to assert that any American of good conscious and moral understanding would have to admit that President Obama was a man who represented America in all the best ways possible. Regardless of the negativity, obstructionism, political knife fighting, and worse, it will alway be true that President Obama tried his absolute best to make the lives of ALL Americans better. It was not wrong then, as now, to fight to achieve the herculean lift of health coverage for every American citizen of the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind.
It is only wrong if we stop trying. If we stop caring. The Affordable Care Act, like many things in life, is not perfect and needs adjustments for sure, but I can assure you that the 20 (+) million Americans who have healthcare coverage for the first time in their lives do not expect our leaders to return them to pre ACA living. It’s morally indefensible, and frankly, cruel. Modern America has it’s philosophical roots in FDR’s ‘New Deal’, and it’s worth defending, every time, all the time. President Obama’s work on the very real, critically important issue of climate change was done for all the right reasons namely, the future health, environmental prosperity, and ultimately, the future survival of humanity on this planet. Attempts to discredit, or dismiss this responsibility is, again, morally indefensible…and absurdly, bordering on comically, ignorant.
I do wish that President Obama would have been more forceful, and vociferous in touting his administrations successes as they were happening. He chose the route of understated humility, while the opposition was resolute in trying to drive him, and ultimately this great country off the road. Their ‘work’ became not working at all. Sometimes, you have to hit back….hard. However, that was never Obama’s style. We find ourselves positioned at a sad, bordering on tragic irony that for all of Obama’s political prosperity, his party, the Democratic Party has failed to keep pace, and is now weakened politically. There are many reasons for this but as Obama so eloquently stated in this evenings speech, this is simply another opportunity for American citizens to exercise their right to fight for American ideals. The zealous fight for the preservation of our Democracy. The will to continue the long, sometimes harrowing march towards the perfect union our founding fathers envisioned. Much of the stated agenda of this next administration marks a perfect opportunity for Americans to demand that America behave like Americans. At the end of the day, as has been said, and paraphrased by men much greater than myself “The moral arch of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
In short, we (Americans) don’t end up positioned at backwards no matter how precarious it might look at the moment.
Personally, I’m going to do as President Obama has asked of us all, and start getting involved with the business of protecting American Democracy. Stand up. Say something. Do something, and in my case, WRITE something. It’s your right, it’s our right, and responsibility. Full stop.Too many of our brave men, and women have fought and given their lives, the fullest measure of devotion to America, so that as Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “The government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” America is by no means perfect, we’ve got issues, but in my estimation, it still is the greatest nation on earth, because every one of us is guaranteed a voice. Let’s use it.
Ralphael Prepetit / Senior Editor