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American Citizen

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We are eagles soaring.  Photo courtesy of David Galleher on Flickr.com"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." – Barack Obama

The events of our times have lead us to the cusp. There will be no return to normalcy; we can only begin to search for a new normal.

I humbly suggest that there is but one antidote to the ills of our times — the power of the citizen. This word used to be more than ink on paper. It represented the highest duty of each individual in the United States and granted an honored status to be respected by peers, friends and foes alike. This word was Obama's call to arms, the call that galvanized us.

In the year since Obama's election he has been like a Chess grand master making opening moves in games as diverse as nuclear arms, foreign wars, economic stimulus and health care (his primary domestic issue). This week he heads to Copenhagen for a heads of state meeting on climate change. All these moves are big picture items. It is up to all us regular Americans to handle the rest.

The greatest tragedy since Obama's election has not been the bailout of the banks, the stimulus, or the continued presence in Iraq — the greatest tragedy has been the failure of the citizenry to meet his call to America's greatness. The present circumstances are the inevitable consequence of choices stretching back almost a century and a mirror reflection of our values. The individual and his importance to American society have waned. So wanes the power of America.

Obama was more than a man, he was an idea. He represented, and still represents, the idea that each man can realize his full potential and dreams. This full exercise of the power of a citizen is the singular antidote to much of what has gone wrong in America. I am talking about wrongs like the dominion of the corporation, the neo-con invasions of sovereign nations, the erosion of protected individual freedoms, and each step we have taken to reduce the citizen to nil.

We live in a time where the Keynesian myth pervades all thinking. This is the idea that a few very bright, white men can direct the economy to stability and prosperity for all. At its best, this is only a compelling myth based on a detachment from reality. Economies are grimy machines full of moving parts. Only hubris believes that this grimy real world machine can be tamed like a tabby cat. But the idea of a stable, steadily increasing pie seductively rallies everyone to the State.

Need health care? The State can provide.

Need a job? The State can provide.
Getting old? The State can provide.
Business not doing so well? The State can provide.

Abdicating the power of citizenship goes hand in hand with the State hand-out. Individuals used to looking for solutions from The State forget what it is like to create their own.

Our reality is grimier than the bright Keynesian illusion. We are competing in a global economy full of hungry capitalists. We are in the midst of the worst recession of living memory. There is little job creation in sight. We have regional crises in every corner of the country.

In response we have acted with illogic, essentially trying to return to the way we remember the Roaring 90s. We have debased our currency. We continue to strengthen the welfare State. We lionize the corporation. We pass the buck. These are not the answers.

If you believe in the power of America, start believing in the power of the individual- start believing in yourself. Reach for Barack Obama's outstretched hand and join him in his spoken contract with America.

It sometimes feels that the power of one is limited. But the individual can do so much. Entrepreneur. Community-organizer. Voter. Teacher. Watchdog. Inventor. Public Figure. Conservationist. Creator. Writer. Speaker. Thinker.


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About GarbagePlateMD

  • Interesting article. With the page break system on the new BC people will read the first page and have absolutely no idea what you’re getting at and completely miss the point. Should be amusing.

    I do think you stop short of the inevitable conclusion. Obama’s call for change has, in fact, received an answer. And the answer is the Obama himself is symptomatic of the problems which change needs to address and that real change is going to start by removing him and most of the Democrats currently in office (plus a great many Republicans) from power once and for all.


  • I would happily replace most of the politicians in Washington….if only we could find adequate replacements. I agree with you that Obama has been part of the problem- why does every politician want to push top-down change?

    I am not so sure that the answer is removing power-hungry politicians in the federal government. Instead, citizens should increase local (and state) power. The founding fathers knew that the best way to run a government is to keep it balanced.

    All of us need to do our part on the local level.

  • The main thing standing in the way of decentralizing power back to the states, or at least restoring the balance of power between state and federal government is those elective officials and the massive money they throw around to buy off state governments. I tend to agree with those who think that if we dry up the money we end the abuses. But the current 1.1 trilion dollar budget is a step in the wrong direction.


  • It isn’t often that I stand somewhere near where Dave Nalle does, but Obama isn’t walking his talk. Sure, he pointed to some grand goals, but then did everything in his power to disappoint those who expected him to live up to his promises.

    The job of a leader is to lead, not to point the direction he expects everyone to go while he remains behind. People will only go into strange places if they trust the one leading them there. FDR would have been a miserable failure, replaced in 1936, if he had adopted Obama’s methods.

    So wake up and stop providing excuses for a man with clay feet. The sooner he falls over the better – no matter how ugly the aftermath will prove to be.

  • In total agreement. Or perhaps to make another more or less apt analogy, we’re talking about Tiger Woods, except he’s no longer a tiger.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Obama was more than a man, he was an idea. He represented, and still represents, the idea that each man can realize his full potential and dreams.”


    He’s the New World Order repackaged with a black face.

    Big f-ing deal!

  • Gosh & gollys arch. Thanks. We all needed that. Kinda like a cooler full of iced GatorAde sploshed over our heads.

  • Arch Conservative

    No problrm B-tone. Some times the truth tastes like Strawberry Kiwi Rain.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    GPMD –

    Individuals used to looking for solutions from The State forget what it is like to create their own.

    That’s what the conservatives say to keep us from having a social safety net comparable to that of any of the other modern industrialized democracies in the world…but it’s a false argument, a skewed paradigm. All it is, is a reiteration of what I was taught (in so many words) growing up in the Deep South – “America has the best of everything, and you can only be happy here. All the rest of the world offers is tyranny, poverty, danger, and un-Christianlike society.”

    Why? Travel around and see what the rest of the industrialized world has that America doesn’t. If you truly think that people elsewhere in more ‘socialized’ countries have forgotten how to create on their own, then you haven’t been paying attention at all! In fact, with the exception of military technology, America has fallen behind in nearly every measure, including education (ours is a joke), life expectancy (we’re 37th place), technology (see CERN, LHC, bullet trains, and cell-phone use), and even access to (and support of) the arts! If a social safety net somehow takes away our ability to create, then why are we falling behind those countries that DO have those social safety nets?

    GPMD, what the social safety net embraced by the rest of the modern industrialized democracies of the planet DOES do…is provide the citizenry with the education and health care that enables them to work towards their dreams. In other words, it’s a lot easier to succeed in business when one doesn’t have to worry about choosing between paying the mortgage or paying for health care.

  • Whoo-boy. A lot to respond to.

    I hear a lot of Obama bashing. Perhaps I should not have started the article with the O-word, but the essay was supposed to present a call to civic duty, a call that he so eloquently made.

    Obama has taken on many laudable goals and taken steps towards each of them. Although he may have fallen short of what you, the reader, may expect, he has only been in office short of a year. Not to mention that he inherited a lot of problems. For me, the jury is still out.


    No social safety net can be perfect. Ours is pretty good and I think it silly to reduce America’s waning competitiveness to a problem with entitlement. The problem is far more complex than that.

    I still stand by my thought- America’s way to greatness will be paved by individuals hearing the call to civic duty.

  • GarbagePlateMD,

    I could have told you 20 months ago that Obama would be nothing but pretty talk, and aside from the disaster he has worked in deepening the fascism that George Bush introduced to your country, that is all that he has been – pretty talk. You would have done better to start your essay off with something from Jefferson, or Washington or Lincoln – or Madison, even. These people merited real respect because they actually accomplished something. Obama has been just one big zero for you all, and one big “target marker” for us in Israel – he who bows to the evil prince of darkness in Babylon-in-the-west is the “target”. But, you needn’t concern yourself with that.

    Your call to citizen action would be really effective if rewritten to keep Nobama OUT of the picture. He is nothing but a negative influence on your rapidly declining nation.

  • Baronius

    I don’t understand this article. I can’t tell if it’s ironic (or how much of it is). Whether ironic or not, there’s not much an individual citizen can do about nuclear weapons or CO2 policy. Health begins at home, but the Stupak Amendment doesn’t. A penny saved is a penny earned, but the government owes 1200000000000000 pennies.

    Sorry if I’m being dense.