Lieven's Blog

What's on my mind...

Stand up for your leader and take responsibility for your future

Washington monument,Obama,Presidential Election 2012

Clipboard with Pencil_16x16I reread his speech the other day. Many people all over the world can remember that moment when the forty-fourth president of the United States of America gave his inauguration speech, that powerful message of hope. I am one of them. I left my job early that day to be home on time and see his speech on TV. His message also appealed to many Europeans like me. Although I'm not a sentimental person, I remember that I had tears in my eyes when I was listening to his words.

"Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished." These are the sentences that struck me most. They show his belief in the people of his country. His conviction that it is not the people but the system that has to change. By bringing this message he talked about the very essence of the problems of the US. But he also chose the hard way for himself. Instead of playing save and going for some minor improvements of the current situation and in this way probably ensuring his position in office for more than one term, he stepped forward as a real leader does and gave a challenging vision of how he wanted to create a better future for the people of the United States. Many of us, US citizens and others, were inspired by this message. We regained the feeling that things were possible, that we could change things for the better. Since then the slogan "Yes we can" is used by so many around the world as an expression of a new personal empowerment.

However, the recent results of the ABC News/Washington Post poll show that his popularity is down to 49%. He has lost quite some support since the start of his first term. Some people expected more from him and are now disappointed, but maybe these people should not only question their President, but also themselves. What happened to your support, your belief and your trust in your President? Is it all gone? Were your expectations realistic or were you carried away by your emotions and didn’t hear the tough parts in his speech? He was clear and realistic about the difficulties that were laying ahead. It was all in the inauguration speech.

We could ask ourselves, did the man who brought hope really failed or did some of the people who hoped failed? Don't we fail when we expect a new President to repair everything in just a few years, what was destroyed during several terms before him? Don't we fail when we naively expect that one man can fight and overcome all the resistance of the members of the old system just like that? Is it mature of us to think that we can turn our backs when things don't go the way we expected? And have we, the people who have the privilege to live in a democracy, forgotten that we also have a responsibility in this. If we want to bring change in a democratic system, then it takes more than just giving our vote on election day. If we want a leader to bring the change that we hope for, this leader, regardless how strong he is, needs the full support of his followers. This is especially important during critical moments. Not supporting him means to give more power to the leaders who benefit from keeping everything the way it was. In this game, there is no neutral position.

His capacity remains undiminished and if you are a US citizen, then please reread his speech and fulfill your part of the deal... stand up for your leader so he can continue what he has started and succeed in his ambition to make a better America for you.

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Lieven Verbrugge, Basic Author