Tuesday marked a turning point in our country’s history. The inauguration of President Barack Obama sets a new and wonderfully American precedent, which reminds us that regardless of socioeconomic, family or cultural background, the opportunities for every hard-working American citizen are limitless. Through a campaign that united people from all walks of life, from every corner of the country, and from each generation, Obama helped invigorate the American spirit, especially among those who feel uncertain about the future of our nation.
The road ahead for President Obama, however, shall be one many times more daunting and many degrees less jubilant than what the junior senator from Illinois encountered during his two-year experience as Candidate Obama and his three years of service in Congress. While he has armed himself with a cabinet of among the most competent and knowledgeable leaders from our country’s highest-regarded government, academic and business institutions, the unusual amount of challenges the new president faces have neither straightforward nor immediate answers.
In this sense, President Obama will need to present a convincing case to a sizable portion of the electorate — many of whom voted for him because they are eager to see immediate change to the status quo — that solutions to some of the most pressing issues may at best be a year or more away. The success of Obama’s first term in the Oval Office will largely be determined by how successfully he accomplishes this effort.
Hopefully, President Obama will not take the easy road to solve these problems. In the face of economic challenges, we must encourage sustainable innovation in the private sector rather than rely solely on the short-term job creation permitted by large public works projects. To solve woes in the financial markets, we must realize that restoring market confidence cannot be done by government, and thus we must not target the problem with unnecessarily restrictive regulation.
To bring increased prosperity to all citizens through new social programs, we must encourage the kind of new industry development that makes these costs affordable over the long term (while also reviewing the sustainability of entitlement programs currently in place).
And to deal with the ongoing international challenges we face, we must be willing to act if the situation so merits, rather than trusting that diplomacy alone will be effective. While Candidate Obama may have been able to disagree with some of these tenets, it is imperative to our country’s future that President Obama act in the best interest of our nation regardless of what is most popular. I am optimistic that he will.
As for now, we are at an invaluable crossroad in our country’s history that will shape how we move forward decades after President Obama’s term concludes. This is an opportunity to forge new paths, reestablish some old ones and reaffirm our identities as Americans. Despite his youth, our new commander in chief brings the intelligence, charisma, strength-of-character and passion we need to maintain and grow America’s leadership on the world stage in the years that lie ahead. The time to take the next steps is now.
Godspeed, President Obama. We’re all behind you.
Brad Galiette is a first-year student at the School of Management and a 2008 graduate of Jonathan Edwards College. He is the former director of Yale for McCain and a former Director of Finance for the News.