Two days from now on January 20, 2009 Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. As I sit here contemplating the meaning of the upcoming inauguration, I’m rushed with a mix of pride and caution.
Often referred to as the nation’s first black President elect, Obama is half black and half white. Perhaps more accurately stated; he will be the nation’s first President with African ancestry. Black Americans are justifiably ecstatic about Obama’s victory. For those who walked with Martin Luther King, Jr. across Selma’s Edmund Pettus bridge in 1965 and were beaten like dogs, this election was a big, big deal. Those who pulled the lifeless bodies of Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Denise McNair (aged 11), Carole Robertson (aged 14), and Cynthia Wesley (aged 14) out of the bombed wreckage of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963 know for sure that January 20, 2009 is a joyfully chosen date in American history. In fact, every American should have some pride in the results of this election, whether they voted for Obama or not.
Obama’s election is proof positive that we are a nation of opportunity. Politicians and opinion leaders in France and continental Europe, who have for years characterized the United States of America as a racist nation, must now eat their words. If I’m not mistaken I can’t recall any Africans who have served as prime ministers of France, Germany, Spain, or any other European country. In Germany, Turks who have lived and worked in that country for three generations are still not afforded citizenship. I guess the Europeans will have to come over here to the divided, materialistic, racist United States of America to find an African that serves in the nation’s highest office. We’ve come a long way, baby. Shame on you Europeans; in fact, shame on anyone in the world who fails to give us credit for making giant strides over the past 40 years toward reducing discrimination in our land. Despite the enormous problems that we are faced with, the United States of America is indeed a land of great opportunity; one like no other.
Barack Obama strikes me as an intelligent man that is as sincere as any politician can be. He is unquestionably the best orator we’ve had in the oval office in my lifetime. He is charming, incredibly well organized, and is a good thinker. He proclaims to be inclusive and I hope this is true. I wish Barack Obama well over the next four years. I pray that he is kept safe from harm and will be able to fulfill his duties to the betterment of our economy and our people.
But, I’ve got my reservations. No matter how charming or intelligent Mr. Obama is, there are lessons of history and economics that not even he can change. Wealth and prosperity cannot be created by government. In the long run a nation cannot consume more than it produces. Taxation never stimulates an economy, but is a drag on economic growth. Free market capitalism, free trade, and globalization are mankind’s only hope for economic growth. Likewise, worldwide economic growth is the only engine that can drive democracy, world peace, and environmental protection.
Unfortunately, there are millions of people in this country that believe Obama can snap his fingers and cure the world’s problems. News Flash… Barack Obama isn’t the second coming of Jesus Christ. His charisma isn’t going to be able to bring peace to the Middle East, stabilize financial markets, create good paying jobs, alleviate poverty, provide free health care, end Taliban influence in Afghanistan, or pull Iran and North Korea out of totalitarianism.
The Obama presidency won’t be helpful to the country if he pursues the interventionist government policies that he spewed to win acclaim from his democratic voter base. But, if Barack is as smart on economics as Bubba Clinton was, he might be able to convince congress to adopt some pragmatic, free market policies that could revitalize the magic engine of American capitalism. Believe me, when that engine fires up; get ready for a prosperous, peaceful, joyful world.