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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Joy, Fear, Hope: America’s President Obama

"A Jersey Girl’s Perspective" by Kimmie, writing from New Jersey, USA

What symbolism?! The first African American President's Inauguration Day is the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - an American holiday created to honor a predominate leader in the civil rights movement. While some Americans are fearful and want to see what will happen over the next year, many are electric with hope.

People who were against Obama winning the presidency had been more boisterous in sharing their fears prior to the election. From what I gathered locally (keep in mind New Jersey was a democratic state) those who were against Obama winning were fearful of:

  • Other countries attacking the US again if a heavy hand was lifted,
  • Our healthcare system would so drastically be changed that senior citizens would not get the appropriate care due to their age, and/or
  • Gun laws made stricter which could interfere with hunting, among other things.

However, those people are silent now and are waiting for some action on the part of our new president.

The press has been up-lifting with their reports which seem to be exactly what the American people need right now. In preparation for the presidential inauguration news casters had discussed various light-hearted topics. For example, the president's inauguration speech should be 12 minutes long and supposedly Obama, who has been deemed long winded, needed to cut his speech down from 17 minutes. Though, his speech was predicted to be amazing. The security and preparation was discussed for the enormous amount of people that would be present at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Most people attending the event state they just want to be a part of this occasion or "have to be". A young boy in a crowd, after he was asked about Obama becoming president, was quoted as saying, "It was meant to be." Furthermore, innocent jokes had been made about the recent graying of Obama's hair. They have commented that over night the pressures have started to weigh heavy and his hair would most likely be white at the end of his term.

However, we need a hero not just a president. Recently a plane crashed into the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey suffering no casualties. New York workers, able to see the crash from their towering offices in the city, took little notice. Possibly because in comparison to 911's heart attack this was barely a hang nail. This event seemed to be more of a concern to those outside the Metropolitan area as the press praised the pilot and his crew, raising them to the status of heroes. Nevertheless, this crash and the press' willingness to create instant heroes had been compared to America's need for a presidential leader to be a hero.

Hopefully Obama can live up to this heavy burden ahead. People are losing their jobs all over America. If they haven't lost their job, their hours are being cut or they are feeling the pressure of doing a job that should really be that of 3 or 4 people. Forget any talk of bonuses, raises, or vacations. Families are penny pinching every chance they get, barely able to make their rent or mortgage, and losing homes. People can't see passed their own troubles to even think about issues abroad. Nonetheless, hope is high that this president will make changes, not only with his plans for home, but also changes to America’s interactions with other nations.

The pressures on Obama are heavy and the people's expectations are exceedingly high. It would seem that he would not be able to meet all the demands put on his shoulders. On the other hand, he has been taking one day at a time, making preparations and decisions that will hopefully create a strong base for the future. While every move will be scrutinized, not just from his home country but from all over the world, his words seem to bear a little magic that can carry us through the rough times. He united the American people to vote for a 'black man' that at one time would have been thought impossible. It is surely possible that he can unite the United States with other nations to change the state of the world.

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