Ever since Barack Obama’s election, a lot of attention has been directed at the presidential transition, during which the president-elect has treated us to a blend of cool temperament and daring nominations. Over 75 per cent of the electorate approve of Obama’s handling of the transition. But while the transition is one of the best in recent memory, elsewhere, problems are emerging: economic conditions are worsening as Congress cannot agree on a stimulus package for the US auto industry; the US economy has been in recession for nearly a year and job losses are mounting on a monthly basis; and a political scandal involving the Illinois governor and Obama’s former Senate seat has erupted, providing a temporary distraction from the problems at hand.
One would be tempted to conclude that we’ve returned to “politics as usual.” We are not talking about change as much as we did throughout the past 12 months. Yet, it must be noted that the Obama people keep moving along, putting the final touches to the new administration and continuing to use the Internet as FDR used radio and JFK used TV to communicate with the public. The Obama campaign is still collecting funds on the Internet. For them, the campaign is not over yet.
Yes, change may be less of a mantra these days, but make no mistake about it: It is very much on the mind of the future White House occupant. He pointedly stated in the early stages of cabinet selection that the Oval Office is where the change will originate. It is obvious that Obama is building the team, the policies and the momentum to hit the ground running when he is sworn on January 20.
Obama’s definition of change is not from the top down. Rather, it requires engaged citizens pitching in to improve the lot of those in need. It is, to use a clichéd phrase, bottom up. The message of hope which resonated throughout his campaign is not one based just on policy change but mostly on attitudes and values. The American union so much in need of perfecting began this journey of transformational change eighteen months ago, but it did not end on November 4—and it is still far from being over.