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Obama Inauguration Reflection

In Politics on 27/01/2009 at 6:03 PM

Many have said over the past months that the election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America signifies a paradigm shift in the American political system.  This change is not limited to the elected officials, but is also spread to ordinary citizens.  In past years a majority of the electorate tends to support their candidate during the election only to fall to the wayside on January 21st.  We the people will now take the future of our country into our own hands, with the support and guidance of our elected officials, and make a much needed difference in the course of America. 

Previous to the 2008 election there have only been three major realignments in American history, all of which in their time signified a paradigm shift in American politics.  These three paradigm shifts were: The emergence of the Republican Party after the Civil War, The increased strength of the Republican Party after the Depression of 1893, and the birth of the New Deal Era after the depression of 1929 under the power of democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt (Flanigan & Zingale 2006 pp. 67-72).  Two of the three major paradigm shifts in the history of American politics occurred in response to economic collapse; due to this it seems only natural that another shift is imminent considering Barack Obama was elected during the current economic collapse.  It will be difficult to tell until after the next presidential election in 2012 if those who voted across party lines in 2008 will continue to vote in this manner thus creating a lasting partisan realignment in favor of the Democratic Party.

In this case I believe that the paradigm shift goes beyond just that of a party realignment because President Obama promises bipartisan change, something far more outreaching than simply reversing some of the more conservative policies set in place by President George W. Bush.  The changes that will make this paradigm shift hold its course instead of being a fleeting spark of hope left to die, lie mostly, but not solely, on President Obama and his constituents.  During his campaign he spoke at length of hope and the change that is to come.  These ideals were mirrored in his inaugural address where President Obama said:

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.  On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

It is evident that President Obama understands that politics as usual will not be accepted by the American people in this juncture.  If President Obama does not keep his promises of reaching across party lines, passing legislature that benefits the country as a whole rather than “protecting narrow interests” and rewarding citizens who dedicate their time and lives to service this shift in American politics will die off, along with it the hope and trust of the American people.

In his inaugural speech President Obama repeatedly pointed out that our country is in a time of crisis and that it is time for every American to take an active role in rebuilding the fabric and spirit of our Nation.  To back up his rhetoric on this issue, President Obama spent much of his day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day volunteering his time and labor at various venues across Washington DC.  In a speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Coolidge High School President Obama stated:

“So today, I am asking you to roll up your sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation.  I pledge to you that government will do its part to open up more opportunities for citizens to participate.  And in return, I ask you to play your part – to not just pitch in today, but to make an ongoing commitment that lasts far beyond one day, or even one presidency.” (Phillips 2009)

While lending a hand at the Sasha Bruce House, a shelter for homeless teens in Washington DC, he stated “…we can’t allow any idle hands… Everybody’s going to have to pitch in. I think the American people are ready for that.”  This is shown to be true by the turnout for 2009’s King Day of Service which expects to have over twice as many participants than last year, totaling over one-million Americans volunteering last Monday January 19, 2009.

The changes that President Obama has planned will enable all Americans to serve their country.  This will create an American public whom will be more involved in their community, which in turn affects ones partisanship and political interest.  (cite book) This increased interest and feeling of ownership in our political system can only help to fuel the fire on the impending paradigm shift in American politics.  Once the American people get the sense that their government needs them to be informed and to work on bettering the nation the next elected officials will not be able to easily revert to the old way of governing. 

                                                                  References

Flanigan, W. H., & Zingale, N. H. (2006) Political behavior of the American electorate (11th edition). In Partisanship (pp. 61-79) Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Phillips, M. (January 20, 2009). The White House Blog. In Honoring Dr. King’s Legacy and Serving America. Retrieved January 21, 2009, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/dr_king_service/.

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