Obama’s Call for Change — What Is Everyone Waiting For?

barack-obama93.jpgLast week many Americans stopped to savor a moment of such beauty and amazement that the thought of it, even now, is enough to draw tears.

But never mind that now. It’s time to pack away the Obama glow. Young people should save it for when they’re old. The men who landed at Normandy spent no time thinking about what an awesome invasion they had just pulled off; they had to go liberate Europe. Postgame celebration and analysis are fine, for a game, but this country’s challenges are not recreational.
Barack Obama acknowledged as much in a victory speech that was serious, almost somber. He did not rejoice or gloat. Instead, he warned people of the hard work ahead: “I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”
Mr. Obama was speaking about next year, and his subdued tone was fitting. The country has lost so much since 9/11. The sense of national unity forged in that catastrophe has been squandered. Fear and a sense of impossibility have taken root like viruses. The country is not in the best shape to simultaneously fix a sinking economy, a withered government and an ailing planet. But it has no choice, and not much time.
So why wait until January to get started?
Mr. Obama has troops for the job: tens of thousands who spent months on the ground campaigning for him, becoming conversant in the issues and comfortable with approaching strangers to enlist their help.
There are millions more who embraced his urgent message: he rode to victory on the leading edge of a wave of Americans, including millions of new, previously disengaged voters — young people, immigrants and others — who wanted to change the country’s direction, to reassert a hopefulness that many feared had been lost.
It would be a shame to have poured all that idealism — and money, don’t forget — merely into one man’s election. Mr. Obama could set loose his army right now to start bringing about the change he promised — by working for local nonprofit groups and causes.
He could use his enormous database to lead this effort. Through cellphone texting and e-mail he could quickly mobilize thousands, maybe tens of thousands of volunteers — not for partisan purposes; what’s the point of that? — but for the everyday, unsung, tiring work that gives community organizing a good name.
Mr. Obama doesn’t have to tell anyone what to do, only to do something good. All you phone-bank callers and door-to-door volunteers, you envelope stuffers and canvassers, who worked countless hours and now may have a little time and energy left over: Help homeless and hungry people.
Work for an environmental organization, a food pantry or a community garden, or all three. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will soon be flooding colleges on the new G.I. Bill, many of them wary and troubled by traumas overseas, unready for the shock of immersion. Some local cause is struggling even now. Find it and pitch in.
Mr. Obama always said the race wasn’t about him. That’s true. Of course he ran a great campaign. It was awash in energy, talent and money. He outorganized, outmaneuvered and outspent John McCain all over this country.
Mr. Obama, who surfs, knows that you can take credit for timing, grace and balance on the face of a great wave, but not propulsion. Americans who surged to the polls to give him their votes are surely ready right now to give even more, to one another, if he asks.
Source: NY Times
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