Change of power begets change of attitude

‘Le roi est mort, vive le roi.’ The idea of business as usual has never been more in question than in this turnover of power between the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

The new administration is facing crises in the economy, on the diplomatic front in Gaza, Cuba, Israel, and in northern Africa, as well as domestically on the energy front and in industry. Our last president provided answers, made decisions and gave us confident leadership – even when confidence was the least appropriate response. We all wonder whether the next president will be more than glib, more incisive than rhetorical and ask tough questions of his own administration.

There is a Democratic majority in Congress, and although the Supreme Court has a large proportion of right-leaning justices presiding, we will likely face a balance of power that lists heavily on one side of the aisle, as we have for the past few years, albeit in a different direction. The danger of eroded checks and balances within the government has been a well-made point, inscribed mostly on the financial future of the citizenry. The challenge we as the electorate face is that of conducting our buyer’s review of government more assiduously and with a civilized level of dialogue.

The 2008 presidential election was hailed as historic, not because of the absolute flip in direction and perceived leadership between the two leaders, incoming and exiting, but because of race. Given the volatility of race issues in the U.S., and the assassination of multiple heads of state because of them, the fact that jokes have been made on broadcast television about killing the president-elect is unacceptable at any level of political discussion.

A critical factor in the promotion of healthy dissent is the retaking of representation from the demagogues of dogma who represent right-wing punditry. The idea of informed, real dissent was a cornerstone of the Obama platform. There are plenty of hard questions to ask the president, and it remains the most patriotic action of any American to intelligently question the powers that be to better examine and develop the social experiment for all of us.

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