Yes We Did7 min read Ireland
Well it’s been a week now. The words President-elect Barack Obama are becoming easier for pundits around the world to spit out. Our conversations and thoughts now turn (I hope) to our goals for the future.
Last Tuesday I spent a good chunk of the day knocking on doors for the Obama campaign, encouraging people to get out and vote. I had donated to the campaign, and was happy to spend at least a little time volunteering for such a good cause. I didn’t talk to anyone that rushed out to vote thanks to my encouragement, though some Menomonie canvassers did. Wisconsin wasn’t exactly a battleground state, so I didn’t feel like my efforts were critical to a victory. Selfishly, the Obama campaign seemed to me a world-changing event in progress, and I wanted to be a physical part of it, if even in a small way. After canvassing, we headed home to watch the returns come in. After Senator McCain’s concession speech, and before President-elect Obama’s acceptance speech, I received an email from the campaign thanking volunteers for their efforts. Even more importantly, the email made clear that the new President-elect would be in touch to keep volunteers mobilized for change.
I believe we’ve elected the leader our country desperately needs at this time. I believe he has the potential to be a once-in-a-generation leader, on a par with John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. He has pledged to bring change. He has pledged to be a President for all citizens, to run an inclusive administration (which will be a HUGE change from our current administration). He is capable of great things, but only with help. So the question becomes, what help will you offer? We have spent 8 years being told to be afraid, being told “you’re with us, or you’re against us,” in so many ways. We have now reaped the results of that kind of thinking - it’s not working! Can we all pull together? The challenges facing us right now are huge, and they are generational challenges. Dig in and help!
The Obama transition team has set up a new web site at http://www.change.gov where they’ll share their progress. I think they’re off to a great start with a form on the site where you can submit your vision for the Obama administration. Below are some things that I submitted. Some of these are things Obama promised during his campaign. Some are things he has already said or hinted he won’t do. A couple are my hopes for future happenings that the Obama administration can’t control.
What I’d like to see from the first term of the Obama administration:
On Inauguration Day, President-elect Obama will swear an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” My first and most fervent hope is that he will honor that oath, unlike the current occupant of the office. Mr. Obama has been a teacher of constitutional law, so I’m confident that he’s at least read the document, a statement I can’t make about our current President. If President Obama accomplishes nothing more in his first term, this alone will be a great step forward.
An immediate review of all Bush administration executive orders, with immediate repeals or replacements for any orders violating the Constitution. In the spirit of transparency pledged by Obama, all executive orders created by the Bush administration should be summarized and publicized.
An immediate, public refutation of the theory of the “unitary executive” practiced so destructively by the Bush administration. Accompanying this should be a complete review and public summary of all signing statements issued by President Bush.
An immediate end to the warrantless wiretapping program, and full disclosure of the program’s details. Sadly, I don’t believe Mr. Obama will tackle this one, as he supported the most recent legislation on the program.
Closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and public trials in the United States for all captives held there. Mr. Obama has already pledged to close the prison, but there is some discussion about sending captives to other countries for trial.
A public refutation of torture and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. President Obama should immediately push for legislation outlawing use of torture by all agents of the U.S. government. A full investigation into the use of torture by the Bush administration should be pursued, with prosecutions of decision-makers as needed.
President Obama has pledged to push roll-out of broadband internet to all areas across the U.S. This is a project bigger than his first term, but it is important to get started.
Throughout the campaign while his opponents shouted “socialism” and “Marxist” and “communist”, Mr. Obama spoke intelligently about economics. Keep it up. The American people are capable of intelligent thought, keep speaking to them as if it’s true.
Expansion of federal research dollars in renewable and alternative fuels.
Mr. Obama pledged during the campaign to appoint a Chief Technology Office as part of his adminstration, or a technology czar. This is a great idea. Get it done.
The missile-defense shield project should be ended. This is an incredibly high-investment, low-return project in the defense industry. The Pentagon’s best minds agree that attack by missile is one of the less-likely dangers to our country. Let’s invest our defense dollars where they make more sense.
This one is a biggie, and probably won’t happen. I’d like to see President Obama declare an end to the war on terror. Terrorism is a part of our world today, and will always remain a threat. But it cannot be defeated using war tactics. Furthermore, it is a considerably smaller threat than our current budget for fighting it would indicate. We need to re-prioritize our monies and address terrorism as one of many issues facing our country, not as the primary issue.
There will be many calls to be done with the past, to not focus on things that happened during the Bush administration. Resist those calls! There are good indications that crimes have been committed. Some investigation of these things is necessary - a CIA agent was outed to the press, thousands of White House emails were deleted, government business was done on Republican party email accounts. If crime goes unpunished it will flourish.
Roll back No Child Left Behind. ‘Nuff said.
Interact with the world as a partner, not a bully. We don’t have to kowtow. But we live in a world community, and anybody that lives in a community knows it stinks when your neighbor is a jerk.
We need meaningful campaign reform. I appreciate that the Obama campaign involved so many people, and so many new donors. But the amount of money spent by all campaigns and interest groups in this election was just absurd. We have to find a way of limiting the amount of money flowing through this process. We should eliminate any kind of anonymous money in the process, for any groups. We need to limit the length of active campaigns - other free, democratic nations do this and their democracy is better for it. Few people can or will stay fully engaged for a two-year campaign. We’re driving people away from the process.
Finally, and most simply, as the writer Wil Wheaton teaches his children, “don’t be a dick.” Our little corner of the world here would be a much better place if the current occupant of the White House listened to that. What I’d just like to see:
Sarah Palin returns to Alaska and is never heard from again on the national stage. Plenty has been written by plenty of people on Ms. Palin. That anyone thought she was capable of being even a governor is beyond my comprehension. That anyone thought she could be Vice-president was downright frightening. She’s given us a few laughs, but I for one have had my fill. Go away.
Can we please have new leadership for the Democrats in both the House and Senate? A shake-up on the Republican side wouldn’t be too much of a stretch either. I’m sure I’ve forgotten quite a few things, so I’ll probably come back to this later. It’s late now, time for bed. I’ve got high hopes for what’s to come.