With a sigh of relief, we bid adieu to the Bush administration. I just saw in the office here the inauguration of our new President, Barack Obama. So, it seemed to me appropriate to jot down a few thoughts here concerning the inauguration and some hopes, wishes, and expectations for the next 4 years.
First, the inauguration was somewhat tainted by the magical incantations of Rick Warren. I don’t think we should be in the habit of invoking magic in trying to run a government, especially when not everybody in the country accepts the same type of incantations. But then, we expected that to happen. There was also the “So help me God” bit at the end of the oath which is still kind of annoying. Again expected. There was at least acknowledgment in Obama’s speech that not all in our country are Christians and that there are even unbelievers. There was even a nod towards putting science in higher regard. Nice. I agree with him that the question is not one of big or small government, but the more pragmatic question of what works.
In spite of the high hopes that seem to be sweeping our country, I think it prudent to keep expectations low. After all, we do have huge problems with the economy and two ongoing wars at present. Of course, when Bush was elected President 8 years ago, my thoughts were, “The country is strong. How much damage can one guy do?”. Was I ever mistaken! I hope that perhaps I am underestimating again the changes one guy can make. Although this time, changes for the better.
Hopes? I do have hopes, but tempered with the realism that probably not everything I hope for can happen all at once, or maybe not to the extant I would like. I hope we will see religious influence diminish in the political sphere. Realistically, I know this will not happen overnight, but Obama has indicated an understanding that common agreement must be sought. Not dictations from dogmatic religious fundamentalists. My hope and expectation is for incremental improvements in the economy over the next 3 years. I realize that not all of this can be placed on Barack’s shoulders, just as not all of the problems we face now can be placed at the feet of Bush. But I hope prudent policies pursued by the new President will provide some guide towards improvement. I hope to see the Presidential office used as a bully pulpit in the pursuit of cleaner and alternative energy sources, in addition to policy changes to effect the types of changes to go in the right direction. Policies should be pursued to pragmatically help our environment. I expect our world standing will improve in some measure.
It would be good to see a type of variable gas tax, about which I discussed earlier, to give more federal support to mass transit and infrastructure, which can also lead to more job creation. Finally bring a close to the Iraq war within the next 1-2 years and bring our troops home. Close Guantanamano and allow legal due process to those that have been held there. Reverse the unconstitutional whittling away of civil liberties that have been pursued by Bush. Give a high priority to education to ensure that the future will have knowledgeable American populace with the critical thinking skills necessary to continue our system of self governance and technological and economic competitiveness on a global scale. Let decisions be based on evidence informed by robust scientific thinking, not ideological pursuits.
If you have any expectations for the next 4 years, feel free to discuss.