Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Farewell to Barack Obama


Long after the echoes of his last words had died, the crowd remained. As if by holding fast in that great arena they could stop the passage of time. As if it was Chicago, 2008, not 2017. As if, instead of the promises of yesterday, it was the promise of tomorrow.

As Barack Obama left the stage for one final time, as we fear that all the good he has done will soon be but history, as we lament the passing of the torch to one who casts a shadow of ugliness on this great nation, as we sense we are becoming less than we can be, less than we should be, less than we must be, as the light recedes and the dark reality descends, our hearts are heavy.

We listened to what he had accomplished in the face of unrelenting opposition. We struggled as he told us that a democracy and all it offers is not an absolute, but something we must be ever vigilant to protect. We cried as he saluted those who had made his life and ours fuller.

He was not perfect. No man is. Not all the blame for his failures lays at the feet of others. But he was relentless in pursuit of his task, noble in his effort, and pure in his desire to see that the basic promise of this country,that all are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, be fulfilled.

Tomorrow we will awaken to a new world, one in which the contrast between the current President and the next could not possibly be starker. And we wonder how we could have fallen so far in our vision, in our concept of the qualities that we revere and the qualifications that we demand in the one chosen to lead, to be our example to those scattered across the globe of what America is and what it means.

And so we wish we could press the pause button, or more accurately, rewind. And that we could awaken tomorrow with a sense that the day filled us with excitement, not dread, that the hours passed with joy, not pain, and that the President was someone  to whom we could point with pride, not disdain.

We will sorely miss Barack Obama for everything he intended and everything we dreamed.


Anonymous said...

Perfectly echoes our shared sentiments.


Anonymous said...

Very few Presidents ever took office with such good intentions, so much good will, and such prodigious political and rhetorical gifts as Barack Obama. But his Presidency has been fraught with disappointment both at home and abroad. “I won” he quipped when Eric Cantor implored him to consider Republican ideas. His legislative achievements, built on partisanship leave them vulnerable to partisan repeal. In his second term he disdained the Congress altogether, preferring to rule by regulation. By rejecting bipartisanship and the hard work of building political consensus, he built much of his legacy on sand. It’s much worse in the realm of foreign affairs. As he leaves office the gains of the post-Cold War era are being lost as world chaos spreads. The Middle East is in flames and authoritarians are on the rise around the globe like we have not seen since the 1930’s. His polarizing Presidency has yielded an equally polarizing successor who campaigned to repudiate the President’s agenda. For me the takeaway is that progressive policies do not work when they abjure the realities of economic incentives at home and the imperatives of American leadership abroad.


Anonymous said...

So hard to watch and not be wistful, to say the least. PB

Anonymous said...

Quite a bittersweet hour it was.