Some people think he will bring the Apocalypse. Some think he will save the world. Some think he will hardly change a thing. Me? I’m in the middle. This is what I expect from the Obama Administration.
1. Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
This should have happened a long time ago. Homophobia is one of the last forms of de juro discrimination in this country, and it needs to end. Three-quarters of Americans oppose it. More than one hundred veteran military leaders recently endorsed ending it. So why is it still in use? Especially at a time when the military is having such a difficult time recruiting- it can use all the soldiers it can get. There is zero evidence that allowing gays to serve openly in the military affects productivity, or safety, or anything- the policy is simply discriminatory and archaic.
2. Bring back science
Hey, remember science? That crazy thing with the test tubes and bottle rockets and stuff that was basically thrown out the window in 2001? Because when Bush took office, he immediately went around denying the human effects on climate change and refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol, promoting abstinence-only sex ed despite the fact that it has proven to be entirely ineffective, doing everything in his power to squash potentially life-saving stem cell research, and doing everything in his power to destroy the environment with off-shore drilling and by trying to weaken the Clean Air Act. Whatta guy. Anyway, Obama has already promised tons of funding for science programs and appointed cabinet members that would make Einstein swoon, so he is doing pretty well on this one.
3. Honesty, damnit. And integrity, too.
From Dick Cheney declaring himself above the law to faulty reasoning for the war in Iraq to illegal warantless wiretapping to unconstitutional torture policies to revealing the identity of Valerie Plame, this administration has repeatedly shown that it has no respect for the American legal system or the Constitution. Barack Obama has run on a platform of transforming the American political system into one that is more transparent, accessible, and honest than ever before. This shouldn’t be hard given many of his predecessors, but this will be a crucial part of his presidency and his legacy.
4. No dumb wars
This should be a pretty easy one. All he has to do is NOT start a war with Iran, or Pakistan, or North Korea, or whoever else might look at us the wrong way, and he succeeds. The last thing this (very indebted, globally despised) country needs is another war.
5. Make other countries BELIEVE
Regardless of whether or not Obama will drastically change American foreign policy (which I think he can and hopefully will do), the fact that other countries BELIEVE he willl might make a tangible difference. Obama has already appointed a UN ambassador who actually LIKES the UN (which is a fantastic start). He has rallied crowds in Germany and all over Europe. Other countries see him as different from Bush, which will allow them to start trusting the US and its policies again. This is crucial- like it or not, we simply cannot solve all the world’s problems unilaterally, no matter how much effort and money we put into it.
Barack Obama won’t singlehandedly end world hunger, bridge racial divides, or bring about absolute peace. But I don’t think “being better than the last guy” is too much too ask.