Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Many Americans said they have confidence in Barack Obama’s ability to be a good president. Obama is the beneficiary of more good will than his recent predecessors, and expectations of him are extraordinarily high.
Most of Americans genuinely want to give their new leader a chance, and this is especially true because they have broken a racial barrier with his election. The public's assessment of the Bush presidency is so negative, and the mood so sour, that it's hardly surprising that the new president has substantial public support
For African-Americans, Obama represents a hope. And nothing could have prepared any of them for the eruption of spontaneous celebration in many black homes, gathering places and the streets of black communities when Sen. Barack Obama was declared President-elect Obama. From Harlem to Harvard, from Maine to Hawaii -- and even Alaska -- from hilltops of New Hampshire, to Stone Mountain of Georgia. Each African-American will always remember the moment, and so were their children, whom they woke up to watch history being made.
After the celebration, which will conclude at the Inauguration today, comes the reality.
Can Obama be more than a historical "first"? Can he give back to African-Americans what so many once had, and now need - intact families with mothers and fathers rearing children and fewer single teenage mothers? Can he change the thinking of some African-American young people that excelling in school is not "acting white," but rather acting right? Can he replace despair with that hope he and his supporters talked about?
If he can lead them out of poverty, hopelessness, failure, prison, joblessness, welfare, single motherhood and the rest of the litany of despair that has disproportionately infected much of the African-American community, he will be their Moses and his greatness will be celebrated for generations to come.
And if he fails? What will that do to race relations and the country's willingness to elect another black person president?
The consequences of a failed Obama presidency would be disastrous on several levels.
So to him, I say, goodluck!