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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 19, 2009 at 4:19 PM

An Obama presidency

Bold, persistent experimentation

Barack Obama will soon be inaugurated as president thanks in large part to the efforts of those of us at the grass roots who, in the primaries, put him on the ballot and afterward got out the vote. We, ardent supporters believe his promise of “change” put on hold our linger doubts about what “change” signified in his mind.

Now come the days of reckoning. We’ll soon know what President Obama is made of.

I will not herein dwell upon the multiple threats we face — threats that are new, immense, and, in some ways, game-ending. Both the global crisis and the crisis of presidential leadership are due at bottom to the continued dominance of an outmoded way of both perceiving and dealing with the issues that confront us.

We need new public policies — not minor adjustments of the old to make them work a little better — that will amount to such drastic reversals as to be considered near unthinkable by those who, for a variety of reasons, remain wedded to the conventions of the past. Unless a public philosophy is set out, articulated and promoted as an alternative to the tragically mistake views of the right and this misguided center, we can expect only continued debasement of both society and the biosphere that sustains us.

There is no time to lose. Those of us who believe public office and public lands should not be for sale, national service become a norm of citizenship, health care be considered a collective good and not an individual one, corporations be made accountable to the community, public regain control of the airwaves, and sustainability define our day-to-day use of natural resources respectfully insist attention be paid.

Those of us who think we should protect the vulnerable, the U.N. be liberally supported in its efforts to foster peace, reduce hunger, control population growth and enhance the environmental health of the plant, and that the World court be embraced in its efforts to bring the rule of law and justice to the global setting, respectfully insist attention be paid.

If President-elect Obama wishes our continued support, he must defy the traditional thinkers, professional politicians and corporate interests that, according to reports, are gathering around him.

More than ever before, we need adventurous, new people in government, both knowledgeable and imaginative, who are not afraid to sally forth on new paths just because the paths are new.

The words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, expressed during another time of crisis, seem as relevant today as they were in 1932:

“The country needs and unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But, above all, try something.”

— Todd Wexman, Port Townsend

A rainbow coalition

In recent times, we have had the New Deal under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Frontier under John F. Kennedy and the Great Society under Lyndon B. Johnson in order for these presidents to realize their dreams and visions of America.

President-elect Obama’s presidential campaign was unique in that he energized and mobilized in great numbers Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and others to vote for him in this very historic election.

He was, in essence, successful in putting together a rainbow coalition in America during these very difficult times. The theme of his presidency could be the building of an inclusive society, a society where individuals are embraced with dignity and respect.

Yes, we can.

Obama’s will be a visionary presidency based on hope, and, to paraphrase the 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, it is after all with words we govern men.

We are all in this together to make this presidency a success.

Good luck, Obama, and all the best for the next four or more years.

— Aslam Khan, Seattle

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