American messiah?

The United States—and most of the rest of the world—is brimming with what can only be described as heart-swelling giddiness on this day, the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, the first ever Black U.S. president.

I don’t want to be a downer because, trust me, I feel it too, but I need to point out something. Isn’t the fact that Americans are almost unanimously filled with such hope and excitement at the prospect of a new day for their country a sign that they do not live in a true democracy?

As Abraham Lincoln said, the government is supposed to be “by the people, of the people, for the people.” The President of the United States and every member of his (I’ll dispense with the politically correct “his/her” for now because, well, let’s be realistic….) administration are supposed to be employees of the people.

How did it get to a point where only 22% of Americans approve of George W. Bush and only 13% approve of Dick Cheney? Barack Obama enters the presidency with an 86% approval rating. Why are 86% of the American people looking to this one man to “save” them? To pull their country out of the doldrums, fix a failing economy, regain the trust and respect of the rest of the world, provide a salve for the problems in other countries, and hold the previous administration’s feet to the fire for war crimes and other illegal activity?

Why didn’t 78% of Americans do this years ago? Why did they let George, Dick, et al. ruin their country (and, some might argue, other parts of the world)? They had the power to impeach, but they did not. They sat back, crossed their fingers, held their breath, and waited it out. And now they’re hoping the next guy can clean up the previous guy’s mess.

I really, truly hope that Barack Obama can do even half of what is expected of him. But he is not a messiah.

Hmmm…I think I’ve just inadvertently alluded to an answer to my previous question. Why are they looking to Obama to save them? America is by most accounts decades behind many other industrialized western countries in terms of outgrowing their dependency on rabid religiosity. Perhaps they are so used to putting all their chips down on a mythical messianic character that they can’t help themselves. God will save us! Except, well, that didn’t happen. Jesus will save us!! But Jesus isn’t here…yet. Obama will save us!!!

I think Barack Obama will do wonders to polish the tarnished reputation of United States of America. I believe he’ll do a great job repairing the government and the country. But I can only hope that somehow he will inspire the people to be active citizens and do an equally great job. Because it is supposed to be their job.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. As a foreigner who wants good things to happen in any and all parts of the world, I wish Americans will work more in harmony with their president. How successful Obama can be as American president will depend on how well his fellow-Americans can rein in their demands for their expectations to be satisfied.

    http://novice101.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/inauguration-and-high-hopes/

    Keep the hopes alive.

  2. I agree that expectations are probably too high for Obama. But I also think, sometimes things can only change if people believe that they can change. In my most optimistic thoughts I believe that the inspiration that Obama gives to Americans will help them help themselves.


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