Posted by Tanveer Naseer
Watching the events leading up to the swearing-in of President-elect Barack Obama as the next American president, I can’t help but notice the curious reaction of Americans to the impending inauguration ceremony. Indeed, both the reactions of the public and the manoeuvres of the Obama camp lend to the notion that we’re not so much witnessing the swearing-in of a political leader, but the coronation of a new king.
There’s no question that the last eight years has seen an erosion in both the strength of the American economy, but also it’s influence on the global stage and for a people that pride themselves as being the envy of the world, that’s an understandable hard pill to swallow. Usher in a young-ish, charismatic and eloquent political figure and it’s not hard to see why the general American public is currently swooning on Obama’s every move. Add to this the fact that Americans have had themselves represented on the world stage by a man who continued to butcher the English language as if it weren’t his native tongue, and Obama’s lyrical use of words becomes unquestionably a breath of fresh air.
But with the American economy becoming progressively worse each day and wars being fought on two fronts with no foreseeable end in sight, with civil rights for both majority holders and various minority groups under assault due to newly legislated acts like the Patriot Act, Obama’s tendency to brush wide strokes of a vision for a better tomorrow should no longer be mistaken as a pragmatic plan for how to address these issues currently dogging the United States. Indeed, many outside of the US are now growing weary of Obama’s rhetoric, looking to him to provide more substance and less style to address these pressing issues.
Of course, those deeply entrenched in the Obama camp are quick to jump to his defense, arguing that it’s not fair to expect so much from someone who’s recently ascended through the political machine to land the job of leading the country. However, it is Obama himself who is responsible for creating this assumption; even now he’s attempting to align himself with the likes of Lincoln and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.. The reality, though, is that any challenges Lincoln faced were only within his country and not on a global scene. And while Martin Luther King was able to speak of visions and hope for a better future, a political leader can’t afford to proffer poetic verse as a means of governance. As those who lived through the Great Depression can attest, hope doesn’t put food on the table.
The time has now come for Obama to drop his continued use of dramatic, stirring speeches as a means of instilling hope into his constituents and instead, provide some clearly defined plans and policies that can be publicly debated, challenged and discussed. Clearly, the American public feels the same with a recent poll showing a large majority of Americans are in favour of Congress denying Obama access to the remaining funds in the bailout program until he delivers concrete plans detailing what exactly he intends to do with these public funds. That more than anything is reassuring that we might see a change in American policies as the American public would appear to have learned about the dangers of blindly trusting those they put into political office, regardless of how well they can sculpt with the English language or whatever platform they use – be it ‘national security’ or ‘economic stimulus’ – to justify their plans for their country.
It’s clear that a sense of euphoria and excitement is permeating the American psyche right now, swept up in the well-orchestrated movements of the Obama camp with their prevailing rhetoric that America can recapture the ‘good ‘ol days’ when their country was prosperous and respected the world throughout. It’s a wonderful dream, but the time is fast approaching where Obama can no longer use such imagery to engage, or perhaps distract, his constituents and instead, he has to provide a clear map showing exactly how he plans to lead them through the desert in search of that mythical promised land. After all, he’s already admitted that he won’t be able to keep many of the promises he made during his campaign for the job of President, promises that no doubt were a part of his grand vision for a new America. It’s those words, more than poetic verses and allegories to a time long since past into American history, that should echo as a stern warning to all who are currently enraptured by his eloquence to question and demand a better description of what exactly Barack Obama envisions as a better America for tomorrow. The American public are entitled to no less than that.
You can read more of Tanveer Naseer’s writings at his personal commentary blog “So, what were we talking about again?”.