Paving the Way to a Legacy: Beyond Inauguration Day

With the eyes of the nation focused on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Barack H. Obama will be sworn in for his second term as the 44th President of the United States.

Whether we agree with his politics or policies there is one thing about which we should all agree: we are bearing witness to a powerful, historic event – one which is a significant reminder of the greatness of a democracy.

Image: CCO/Doug Mills-Pool

The number of items on the nation’s agenda is large and could be transformative. In terms of domestic policy, there’s a much-publicised debt crisis but solutions for the pressing day-to-day issue of poverty and an ever-increasing wealth gap between the rich and middle-class feels largely ignored by those who continue to suffer in a recovering but still lackluster economy. On the foreign policy side, movement too often involves furthering the agenda of multinational corporations at the expense of American lives and those of allies and ‘enemies’ alike. Just as ignoring the proliferation of guns has made things worse on the home front, turning a blind eye to a kill list and frequent use of drone strikes will eventually backfire as wiping out innocents has a way of creating new groups of people who cannot trust this nation and its leaders.

This is a special day for President Obama and the nation; whether some of us like it or not we are all in this together and the success of our nation depends on how we move forward collectively. This day represents another opportunity – supported by the majority of voters – to push back against those who squandered an entire (and entirely too long) election cycle plying the public with more misinformation than should be legally permissible, and that has resulted in a nation that seems more divided than ever particularly in the area of social issues. It also represents a chance for the President and his team to shift direction in those areas in the majority of Americans want to see change – especially since he is no longer encumbered by the burden of facing another presidential election. And it represents an opportunity for the President to, even in the face of persistent opposition, talk about how this nation can heal so its citizens know there’s a future to which we can look forward. And knowing when to leave negative, unconstructive forces behind is the way to let the healing begin.

It’s long past time to call on voters who have become activists in their own right. Supporters are anxious to help ‘lobby’ their local and state representatives in many areas:

  • Ensure that leaders know that we want this nation led to a lasting period of peace. As the latest example, the Pentagon is pushing towards involvement in Mali. This country needs to do nation-building at home. Our military budget remains bloated, and though reform is needed it’s unfair to place Medicare, Medicaid, education and infrastructure development on the table without addressing real cuts to the Pentagon budget. Fewer wars mean more savings, and any  new war is going to make it much more difficult to reduce the military budget, and that would increase pressure for cuts to domestic programs.
  • Though we’ve taken a step in the right direction by adding millions of formerly uninsured people to the ranks of covered individuals, there’s still much to be done to better the nation’s extremely expensive, budget-busting healthcare system starting with using the government’s size and purchasing power to segue to universal care that has more focus on preventative care, wellness and  patient outcomes. Having the states step up and take advantage of the Affordable Care Act is just the beginning of addressing the  long-term Medicaid and Medicare problem.

Of course, there are far more issues ranging from the environment to education to financial reform – much of which can’t be resolved until the voices of the people and not just corporate interests are heard.

Congratulations to President Obama and all citizens of the nation on this special day. As the duly elected leader of this nation, many of us stand with you — and we plan on doing as you have requested: keeping you focused over the next four years on making this a more perfect Union for all.