As 2012 passes before us, we as a nation once again look in the mirror. We have seen acts of violence decimate us, an election year featuring a record $6 billion in spending, an economy continue to stumble like an infant with weak legs, and to ice the cake, Congress and the president are still showing us their desire to play games instead of solve the fiscal cliff debate.
But still, 2012 has given witness to an America that prizes the democratic process; a process many take for granted. In 2012, America saw a great deal of partisanship, but still overwhelmingly declared its support for the standing president. This election was not close, it was a landslide. President Obama earned 332 electoral votes, winning nearly every battleground state and far surpassing the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
"The arrogance of getting re-elected by running on a platform that voters find appealing sickens me," joked Stephen Colbert.
Despite his continued campaign success, President Obama must now look himself in the mirror. He must contemplate his future actions, and the direction he will take our country. So, what should President Obama's New Year's resolution be?
"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many."
This excerpt is from Barack Obama's 2008 inaugural address. Alarmingly, many of these same issues persist in 2012. Undoubtedly, these issues will continue to hang over Obama's presidency. It is well known that 2008 was the year of "hope and change," and many are still searching for where that change is to be found. Should we be scared these problems still haunt us four years later?
Yes. But there is hope, as the 2008 address echoes: "For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies." While partisanship makes the well-read news junkie want to vomit, as a people we can only rely on ourselves to make America better. No matter how pathetic our government may seem in its efforts to reach compromise, the American people remain the root of America's historic prosperity. Instead of looking to our elected officials to take us to the promised land, we must take matters into our own hands. Hard work, self-reliance, integrity: These are the pillars on which America was built.
President Obama, here is my plea: Do not be a hero. Do not be a savior. Create conditions of equal opportunity, which yes, does involve some degree of that scary term "government intervention." Fight to allow each individual American their own path to the American dream. Will every American put forth the effort to reach this dream? Probably not. But please, continue your fight to provide equal opportunity at a chance to be successful. If we as a people wait for the government to be stalwarts of progress and change, we have collectively missed the point of what it means to be an American citizen.
We cannot, and should not, look to one man to "fix the economy." Both candidates battled for this title. (I am the better job creator! No, it's me!) But if we look to the government to fix the economy, we have collectively shifted responsibility from the people to the state: a terrifying shift any honest liberal or conservative would agree. Looking to the state and the president to magically fix everything wrong with this country abdicates the individual spirit on which the prosperity of this country rests. Economic progress does not result of a certain political candidate, but instead from natural interactions between people to supply a good according to consumers' tastes.
President Obama, here is my New Year's resolution for you: Please continue to strive toward equal opportunity. Battle to allow every individual to begin his journey at the same starting point, instead of letting some get a head start through no moral desert of their own.
But beyond this, Mr. President, do not be a hero. The success of America comes through the people. We ask of you to provide equal footing, not equal garuantee of success. America has given you her support for four more years. Please support her rights in return. Fight with everything you have for "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for not just some individuals, but for every individual.