The election results from Nov, 2, while desultory, are hardly the end of the world. Anyone who lived through two terms of George W. Bush can certainly say that they have lived through worse.
But to hear many Americans—particularly African-Americans—talk, you would think that we are poised on the precipice of presidential paralysis, with a return to Jim Crow right around the comer.
You would especially think that if you listened to or watched President Barack Obama in the days following the election. The president went on television, shoulders hunched and countenance lowered and acknowledged—a “shellacking,” and then started blaming himself and talking about “cooperating” with the new Republican electoral might.
To this we say—man up, President Obama! This was a mid-term election and traditionally the party in power suffers losses. It happened to Ronald Reagan and it happened to Bill Clinton in their first terms and they not only survived, they prospered. They did so not by capitulating and backing away from their principles. They did so by reaffirming those principles, by redoubling their efforts, by pushing forward with the agenda that generated all of that enthusiasm in the first place.
President Obama, in wringing your hands and trying to find a soft place to land, you are abandoning what made you president in the first place. You were elected as the very embodiment of hope for a nation that had suffered through the Bush decision points. You inherited a nation that was bankrupt on Wall Street and Main Street and bankrupt on Pennsylvania Avenue.
You should not be apologizing for the work you’ve done, even if there are critics who don’t like the work you’ve done. They couch their criticism in the terms of “profligate spending” and “deficit busting” and “out of touch with real people.” But their real disagreements with you have little to do with policy. That’s why some openly admit they are out to curtail your presidency, and openly say they hope you fail, (as if your failure would not be America’s failure). For them it is personal (and for some even racial), and you won’t win them to your side until you find a way to look more like your mother than your father.
Instead of apologizing, stick your chest out, walk tall and look those critics square in the eye. Challenge them to produce something that will create jobs. Force those who are full of vitriol but short on specifics to ignore how your efforts saved the economy from falling into the abyss of a depression. Get those Republican hypocrites to show what they have done—anything they have done—to improve the economy.
You are at a turning point in your presidency.
But this is not the time to reflect on what you’ve done wrong. Instead, concentrate on all that you have done right, and use that to fuel your swagger. You are the president of the United States.
If they want a fight, give it to them. The country needs you to lead, not flagellate yourself over election results. Your resolve, your principles, your hope, and ours, should not waver because of an election.