In his recently published book "The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory," Obama's campaign manager David Ploufe describes the unshakeable belief Candidate Obama held as he sought the nation's highest office:
"The country needed deep, fundamental change; Washington wasn't thinking long-term... The special interests and lobbyists had too much power, and the American people needed to once again trust and engage in their democracy."
One year has passed since candidate Obama was sworn in as our 44th President, and many of the serious problems that plagued Washington prior to his inauguration continue to hold the nation hostage. The scope and scale of domestic and foreign policy challenges President Obama inherited from the previous administration require far more than 365 days to remedy. However, the one year mark is an opportunity to assess the administration's progress, and to redouble the same conviction and spirit which brought hope to people worldwide during the election season.
Our country has been mired in a diabolical debate on the issue of healthcare and much of Obama's political capital has been spent on shoring up enough support to pass any bill. Our economy is slowly beginning to rebound following the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Our military forces are still deeply entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no end in sight, and now there is talk of a new front in Yemen. And our nation's citizens -- particularly Muslim, South Asian and Arab Americans -- have experienced repeated erosions of their civil liberties in our nation's airports, and in their houses of worship through intrusive and questionable law enforcement techniques.
These and many other challenges continue to plague our national discourse and our communities. The hope that millions of people felt, domestically and internationally, after the election gave way to the stark realities of the Oval Office. Change has never been easy and will continue to challenge President Obama, yet the belief in a fundamental change to our system which he held as a candidate, should stay at the forefront of this agenda as President.
As communities who have been deeply touched by some of the policy missteps taken by our government, we must also realize that change will only come when we are prepared to seriously engage with our elected officials and hold them accountable for the promises made and the policies enacted.
Our deep engagement must reflect the sense of urgency that hovers over the future of our communities and our country. Many people who voted for change in 2008 must now work to make their votes count by preventing the voices of cynics, naysayers and bigots to influence the policies which directly affect all of us. Real change will only come when we demand that it does.