22.Jun.2017 About Us | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions
>

Want to know the stories driving our day? Why not join us on Facebook and Twitter

The New Black Magazine's Page

Search Articles

Home











IN THE SHADOW OF GREATNESS

 

By Jill A. Bolstridge

 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009.

 

Since Obama's announcement to run for president on 10 February 2007, he has had the very high hopes of millions upon his shoulders. With each advancement of his campaign, those hopes increased. Upon his electoral win this past November, billions of tears were shed across the country and around the world. Not only was he the first black president, but by far, the most forward-thinking and progressive leader to take office in the history of the United States!

The promises have been big, and the obstacles he faces even bigger. Immense economic reform, major advancements in healthcare and education, a total revamp in foreign policy, a peaceful, fair, and reformative end to the disastrous War in Iraq, the list goes on and on. And with his big promises of "Change We Can Believe In," coupled with his dynamic personality and awesome oratory, the people believed in him whole-heartedly.

 

But those are some big expectations to live up to. And, as if the mountain ahead of him were not big enough, he also, of course, holds the rank of the first black president. With this incredible accomplishment comes the burden of fulfilling some sort of unspoken prophecy, and the weight of the world on his shoulders for the billions of black children around the globe looking to him as their role model and hero: and their parents counting on him, too!


But lest we forget the last time a revolutionary leader was elected to office with great expectations ahead of him; South Africa, 1994. Indeed, Nelson Mandela rose up from a heavily-burdened life and shook the world with his electoral victory. With all of the obstacles he overcame, it was only natural that the people would have high expectations of this charming and righteous leader.

 

Yet Mandela's failures were vast; although he was a great motivational leader who inspired millions, his political leadership did not live up to the expectations. Despite the faith millions around the world had in him, Mandela failed across the board in reforming healthcare, education, and housing conditions for millions of the country's poor.

 

He also failed at halting the corruption put in place by the country's white leaders, rather allowing the African National Congress to pick up where the white leaders left off. A great deal of foreign aid was wasted under his rule, as programs struggled to take off and often never even left the ground. And his attempts to reform foreign policy were weak, at best.

Because of all the hype surrounding President Obama, the insightful eye cannot help but draw a comparison between the two, wondering if Barack awaits the same fate as former South African President Nelson Mandela? The challenges ahead of Barack are immense, and the hype even greater. He has a lot to live up to and the pressure is on; is it possible that it's just too much for him?

In the short months following his electoral victory, eyebrows around the world raised at Obama's cabinet choices. Many of Obama's supporters expected him to go against the grain, and to come up with some fresh-faced, new, revolutionary, innovative cabinet members to assist him and lead the nation in the drastic reforms so desperately needed. But as the cabinet took shape, it became evident that he was choosing more of the same old players from the Clinton (and even Bush and Reagan!) days.

 

How could such a cabinet possibly bring about the "changes" promised throughout his presidential campaign? Many have since argued that Obama was "keeping his friends close and his enemies closer." An intelligent strategy, it would seem. Yet this so-called "strategy" failed Tony Blair, and Obama had to have known that. Regardless, the aftermath of such a revolutionary victory was no time for political games and strategic false friendships.

 

It was a time for decisive strategy, fearless revolutionary change, and a no-holds-barred commitment to the promises he made. With the horrific state of the country, both domestically and in the eyes of the rest of the world, there was no time for schmoozing. It was a time for bold, decisive action. Sadly, Obama missed the boat.

Now in office just over a month, we hear plenty of talk about a national stimulus plan and the Big Three bail-out. Yet what of foreign policy reform? His appointment of Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State was an early warning sign that there would be no drastic changes on this front. (Just think back to her support of the bombing of Bosnia during her husband's presidency.)

 

We have still received no clear course of action for the "responsible" end to the War in Iraq on which Obama has spoken so frequently. Nothing has changed for the hundreds still unjustly held captive in Guantanamo Bay. Wait a minute, you say, but it's only been a month. Well, a month held illegally captive is a month too long; these people have been waiting nearly 8 years for liberation! This isn't a time to "take our time," no matter how complex the situation.

 

And his plans for economic reform are questionable, at best. As Janet Daily of the UK's Telegraph stated last month: "On the economic crisis, too, he is not straying all that far from the outgoing administration. His new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has been heavily involved in the Bush financial rescue project. Again in his Baltimore speech, he seemed to suggest that benefit dependency would not be viewed sympathetically by his administration: there was a better life in store, he said, for those willing to work. Those words could have been spoken by any self-respecting Republican."

Is it possible that there is just too much responsibility on one man's shoulders, coupled with the great expectations that go along with his status as the first black president and further burdened by the hope inspired by his incredulous pre-election oratory?

 

Perhaps. But that's no justification. Yes, it's a lot of pressure for any one man. But he knew that before he ran for office. It's time for President Obama to live up to his promises, or wind up another substance-less ideal of a black revolutionary, joining the ranks of Nelson Mandela and Colin Powell in the pages of history.

 

Jill A. Bolstridge is with Ricenpeas Magazine, where this piece first appeared.

 

 

 

  Send to a friend  |   View/Hide Comments (0)   |     Print

2017 All Rights Reserved: The New Black Magazine | Terms & Conditions
Back to Home Page nb: People and Politics Books & Literature nb: Arts & Media nb: Business & Careers Education