In an earlier post, (actually written quite late, last night) I indicated that I scored the debate for Obama based on one answer alone. In fairness, i thought both he and McCain botched a HUGE opportunity to score points with independents, and, hell, even partisans who operate in the real world. When asked, “will this financial crisis get worse before it gets better?”, both candidates seemed to indicate their “faith in the American economy.” I have to ask…based on what? Yes, we have a great work ethic and Americans are entreprenurial and innovative, to be sure. Are workers in other countries less capable, less conscientious, less innovative? I don’t think so. But that, for the moment, is beside the point. It IS going to get worse for awhile. Why not level with America? I think it shows no faith in Americans to constantly rub their collective shoulders and tell them how great they are. Now, I’m not advocating that either candidate stoked the fires of fear or create panic, but a leader finds the words to illuminate the ground upon which we currently find ourselves deployed. (a great line from a movie, but i forget which)
Just tell it how you see it. We fell in love with a consumerist lifestyle that we can no longer maintain, nor should we. We must, as a nation, re-evaluate what it means to be successful, and how we view and treat those that actually perform the work. We are going to do without some programs we like. We are going to have to make huge cuts in our defense budget. We are all going to chip in to repair and update our infrastructure, like the generations before us, so that our children will have a reliable electric grid, and sound roads and bridges. We are going to have to take stock of our air quality and our water supply, and protect them from those that would spoil both for the sake of profit.
This brings me back to the question of sacrifice. Americans are starving for leadership, and will gladly make sacrifices if they are told why. Many of us know families who have children fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. One complaint I hear is that while their children are in harm’s way, no one outside of the military families seems to be pitching in. That may be perception, but does it matter?
If Americans are out of work, they will obviously be spending less. Less taxes means that Govt, on every level, will be forced to cut services and raise fees. Volunteerism could help fill the void. I do not mean the type of volunteerism that churches engage in as part of their ministries, because I think that keeps people surrounded by those who they feel comfortable with, and there is no opportunity to learn tolerance for other’s views or way of life. This country is way low on tolerance to begin with.
As communities, we can share knowledge and labor and even resources under the right circumstances. Kids need to be tutored. Some Senior Citizen has a leaky roof in need of repair. Is a neighbor struggling and having to work longer hours to make ends meet, and, as a consequence, not home to help their children with homework or provide a hot meal? Could you or I invest a little time to help that family out?
I think we just need to be asked.
I’m afraid we have all been sold on this idea that asking for help is somehow un-American. I know we all consider ourselves rugged individualists, ready to do without if we can’t do it ourselves. Well, I guess we are about to find out if that is indeed who we are.
UPDATED TO ADD: Glad to see others liked that answer as well. Heres a quote from Andrew Sullivan:
9.33 pm. Obama’s response on the question of sacrifice of citizens was out of the park. He was able to ask for sacrifice without seeming like a scold or a doom-monger. That’s tough. And his insistence that he too favors off-shore drilling and reveres military service and wants others to shoulder the burden now uniquely born by the military was exactly right. This is overwhelmingly now in Obama’s favor
And…From the Moderate Voice:
There were several tough questions tonight but two that I will focus on – the sacrifice question and the one regarding priorities of the new administration. McCain answered the sacrifice question by shifting the focus to Obama’s earmarks – he never brought up the word Sacrifice or Service once. Obama gave a response that was reminiscent of President Kennedy when he said “I think the young people of America are especially interested in how they can serve, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m interested in doubling the Peace Corps, making sure that we are creating a volunteer corps all across this country that can be involved in their community, involved in military service, so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America.”