Barack Obama had the audacity to hope for change. He dared to dream that our nation could be a better place.
Now, he must transform his vision into a reality.
To do that, he has a laundry list of what he must do. He must avoid the trap of catering to his fellow Democrats and steer away from partisanship, remain objective and cautious about government spending, and inspire citizens to unite behind his plan to reform our country's policies.
Obama's track record suggests that if he stays the course — objectively and studiously considering the facts before him when setting policy — he can lead this nation to accomplish the much-needed changes he has promised and for which the electorate hungers.
Just as he inspired the young and old (even die-hard Republicans) during his 21-month campaign, Obama must continue to reach out to all sectors to truly put the nation on a united course and transform partisan passion into passion for creating a country where everyone, every sector, plays an important role.
It is certain that he can't create change alone.
A measure of his success will be his ability to unite Congress and put aside partisan bickering. That unity will help him mend the U.S. financial system, which is causing pain in nearly every sector — government, education, manufacturing, and housing. It will also inspire a revitalized commitment to civic duty and improve his chances of reducing the tax burden on small businesses and middle-class families.
During the past two years, Obama successfully convinced more than half of the nation's registered voters that they, too, can hope for a better United States and that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Political bickering, laws that fill expensive prisons with nonviolent offenders, public schools that have increasingly focused on passing standardized tests and not learning, and a financial regulatory system that failed to keep greed in check are just a few of the reasons Obama's support snowballed.
His supporters want to believe that what binds us together as a nation is stronger than what drives us apart. They too support Obama's values and ideals that are grounded in the common good.
When Obama delivered his victory speech on Nov. 4 to a crowd of more than 200,000 at Grant Park in Chicago, there was hunger on the faces of those who exuberantly cheered his historic election. The crowd had the kind of energy and excitement reminiscent of the crowds that once cheered for John F. Kennedy, crowds that also believed in the power of a united people.
The failure of government — broke, divided and fighting an unpopular war — paved the way for Obama's historic election as the first African-American to become president of the United States.
His election represents far more than the nation's electorate putting its shameful history of racial inequality behind it.
It represents the belief that the United States is a nation of opportunity for individuals to start their own businesses and own their homes. It signifies that the American Dream is still very much alive and that, together, as a nation, we can fix our global and domestic messes.
Barack Obama has a dream that is set on a course to unite us again as a nation. He believes that together we can fix what has become broken. And he was elected because he revived that dream that lay dormant in so many for so long.