Watching the news this morning, this late-model Pink Floyd song immediately came to mind this morning, just hours before Barack Obama became our 44th, and first African American president. Regardless of your political feelings about the man, it is impossible to ignore the cultural significance of the event. It is huge, and I think it’s pretty cool that my daughters won’t know an America where only white men were president. “On the day the wall came down” indeed.
Beyond that, if there’s one thing I hope it’s that out of this comes the “change” everyone backing Obama chanted about last year. If everyone embraces a spirit of simply changing their outlook, things can turn around – because, if everyone’s not aware, most of our biggest issues in this country right now, and I’m talking about the financial crisis, are based solely in people’s minds. If people want change, here it is. Today marks your change. Embrace it and move forward. Fear has gripped us for so long that we can’t move. I pray that Obama’s messages of “hope” and “change” really are carried forward by people and we get this economy moving again. Because that’s really all it takes. People stop taking their money out of their 401k plans out of fear of what could happen, banks stop saying no to lending out of fear of what could happen, and people stop hoarding all their money out of fear of what could happen: if these three things happen, everything will slowly go back to normal. Start investing, start lending, start buying. Yes, you.
Maybe it’s not as romantic or dramatic a vision of change as you might imagine with our first African American taking office today, but it’s what our country needs more than anything right now. The racial barriers are coming down, slowly but surely. His win was a major triumph in that regard, but his legacy will only be as meaningful as what he can actually accomplish with the power that has been given to him, not only as president, but as possibly the most significant presidential election in ages. There are very few firsts, and very few are as momentous as this one. I hope in four years to be able to look back and say, “Yeah, he actually did do a great job,” and that one of the first things that happened, albeit tangentially, was the economy turned around. Good luck, Obama, Mr. President.