The “We” Who “Can”

In 2008, when Barack Obama spoke his mantra, “Yes We Can,” I understood and agreed immediately. We can. Not him alone, but all of us. And he did not say, Yes We Will, nor Yes I Can. His slogan gave no guarantees or assurances and made no claims about to his power to fix all problems, but ensured us of our ability and the possibility if we work together. Unfortunately, we haven’t shown up.

The bitter divisiveness and partisan finger-pointing in the nation is appalling and obvious, and those features of our current culture are leading us at a time when our so-called leaders (who are largely responsible for the divisiveness) are not. Despite the claims by some politicians and pundits on the political Right, Barack Obama and his policies are not the problem. Despite the polls, Congress’ slow and plodding process is not the problem. Despite the news reports, immigrants and terrorists aren’t the problem. America’s major problem is divisiveness; when the agenda on each side becomes more important than the well-being of the nation, the well-being of the nation will be lessened. Americans these days are left to choose either the Left or the Right, primarily because the political posturing of the two parties forces Americans to vote that way. This either-or paradigm is not sensible, not realistic, not human, and not American. We have to change it, because the political parties don’t seem to want to.

We can solve our own problems. We don’t need politicized legislation, policy, or budgets to solve our problems. Barack Obama was right that we can. American business owners who have returned to profitability need to become a part of the we who can restore the economy by using those profits to begin hiring again. Wealthy people and corporations need to become part of the we who can by agreeing to increased tax rates, because only big money is going solve big money problems involved in the national debt. We can solve the problems in our nation’s schools by getting involved in our children’s lives and ensuring that they are learning. We can solve the housing crisis by only buying homes that we know we can afford. We can solve our energy problem by recognizing situations when we are being wasteful or overly extravagant and then changing our habits.

When Americans come together and rally around the solutions to our obvious problems, Obama’s promise will come true: “Yes We Can.” If we leave Barack Obama or any other leaders to fix it without our cooperation, we will continue to see that they cannot. If we continue to support divisiveness and us-versus-them, if we continue to believe in polarizing rhetoric, then our problems will continue. If we continue to wait for Congress or state legislatures to create ideal situations in our lives, we will continue to be disappointed. We have to support cooperation, not division.

I don’t support Obama because of his policies or his agenda or his oratorical ability; I support the man as our president because of his belief in all of us. “Yes We Can,” he told us. In a nation of diverse people with varying cultures, economic levels, races, religions, and creeds, the solution cannot come from one side of the political spectrum and it cannot come out of hardened polarization. It has to come from all of us, and I believe in what President Obama said: “Yes We Can.” I would like to see us live up to it now.

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