60 Minutes with the American People

CBS Video. 60 Minutes 11.16.2008

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On Sunday night, November 16, 2008, twelve days after an historic Presidential Election, Americans watched the couple who represents the culmination of their efforts.  Barack and Michelle Obama appeared on 60 Minutes.  Journalist Steve Kroft sat with the President-elect and his partner and pondered all that had occurred and would possibly be.  Television screens flickered.  People felt elated, exhausted, energized, or just excited.  Few knew what would come.  However, most agreed, after the 2008 Presidential Election, everything was different.  

Barack Obama was not yet in the Oval Office.  The Illinois Senator’s promises of transformative policies are still not in place.  The transition team had begun its work.  Yet, until the President-Elect takes office nothing official can be done to bring about the pledge of change.  Only hope reigned eternal.  Nonetheless, the world had turned on its axis.  All were altered by what had occurred the night before.  The evidence was perhaps more obvious in the United States.  

A friend, who lives in Chicago, Barack Obama’s hometown, said, as he drove to work on Wednesday morning, November 5, he could not help but notice sanitation workers wore smiles.  Other commuters were more at ease.  Persons in cars were happy to allow pedestrians the right of way.  People on the road did not pass each other in haste.  Genuinely polite postures were adopted on city streets.  

The mad scramble, the race to nowhere, the need to rush was replaced by a pleasant amble.  People on the streets were authentically more polite.  It seemed to my champion in the Midwest, just as it did to me in the South East, America had done the unexpected, the unprecedented, the unpredictable, and for the most part, people were quite pleased with them selves and with the nation as a whole.

Some were shocked to discover a Black man could rise to power, and become President of the United States.  Others were in awe that the man, Barack Obama had not been scared off.  So many political opponents tried to intimidate him.  Any excuse was used to slam and damn the man some thought was not Presidential material.  Barack Obama was too thin, too fat, he did not associate with the “right” people; nor did he reside in a house that befitted his station.

Scandals were floated and filtered through the airwaves; the Illinois Senator was tied to the Chicago machine.  The constitutional lawyer was called a Socialist, and a Communist.  Those who misread reports in prominent periodicals avowed; the then Presidential hopeful palled around with American terrorists.  

As if all that was not enough, the candidate’s complexion was too dark in color.  Yet, for several, Barack Obama was not Black enough.  Threats, from the first, were heard on the campaign trail.  White supremacists, and those who merely believe themselves superior to African-Americans, attempted to put Senator Obama in what they thought to be, his place.  Racism was perhaps the most recognized reason for a possible retreat.  However, it was the one few wished to publicly broach.  Prejudice was perchance the only issue posed that could not be denied.

All the rumors were proved wrong.  Rants were rarely reasonable.  Rage rolled off Barack’s back.  Anger expressed against the person, Barack Obama was thought without cause.  The individual who asked to be President did not personally revile his rivals.  He did not antagonize his adversaries.  Forever calm, Presidential aspirant Obama held his own.  He captivated a country ready for change.

The person who emerged, Barack Obama, and the average people who endorsed him, helped build an American community so powerful, so full of pride, practical, and persuasive, they were able to elect a President.

That action was the change that transformed America.  A supposed “celebrity” did not move millions to go to the polls.  Eloquent speeches did not cause the country to suspend disbelief.  Citizens of this country did not wait in long lines to cast a ballot for a boy wonder.  Eighty-two year old men and women who had never voted in their lives did not register merely because they saw a man they could believe in.  Hope did not enter hallowed halls and bring people to their knees.

What occurred on November 4, 2008 was the American dream.  Apathy virtually ended.  The people took back their power.  Since Election Day 2008, average Americans anticipate that the man they appointed President would do as they desire.  Common folks began to believe they were as the Constitution of the United States declares, equal.  There was a genuine hope; the government was truly of, by, and for the people.

City laborers did not glow with glee as they reflected upon Barack Obama in the White House.  Bus, train, plane, and subway riders did not rejoice merely because the son of a Kenyan scholar, and a Kansas student would take the oath of office.  Nor did millions dance with delight as they pondered the other prideful parent, Michelle Obama, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  A country did not celebrate Grandmother Robinson’s possible move to Washington District of Columbia.  Few found intense pleasure in the notion that the daughters, Sasha and Malia, and a new dog would romp around the Rose Garden.

Billions beamed throughout the globe for finally, everyday folks, at least in America, achieved the impossible.  Common people created enthusiastic communities that together showed they cared.  Masses knocked on millions of doors.  More made telephone calls.  All asked friends and family to have faith that change could come if we, the people, organized and acted together as one.  

The hope was that if the public believed in them selves, as the Presidential aspirant, Barack Obama requested, common folk would overcome all obstacles.  On November 4, 2008, many realized they had reached heights not attainable in year’s prior.

While Barack and Michelle Obama spoke of how the election had altered their lives, the audience trusted, in truth, what was transformed was not evident on the television screen.  Change came through challenging work.  Citizens accomplished more than they had.  Harden hearts were replaced with a reason to believe again.  On Election Day, the people and the nation were transformed.  

On that special Sunday, more than a week after an extraordinary election, the people’s image of self, and others, were seen in the smiles donned by Broadcaster Steve Kroft, Barack and Michelle Obama, by street sweepers, bus drivers, school teachers, stylists, police persons, fire fighters, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and so many more Americans.  Each grinned as they said to themselves, “Yes we can!”


copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Solutions are the key to better living for one and all.  I am guilty as anyone else of sometimes standing around and pointing out the problems which all can see without my advice.  This approach often leads to a case of seeing the forest and not recognizing the trees.  We can all understand the bigger problems but to overcome the difficulty we must find the smaller components and refrain from being overwhelmed by issues too large for our comprehension or individual resolution.

The answer to all our troubles lies in solutions.  The nation today is very diverse.  There are people with many disparate bits of knowledge.  The world is far too complex to expect any single person to have the solution to every problem.  What we need is more cooperation in terms of suggesting and analyzing a variety of solutions in order to find the best way to resolve the issue at hand this moment.  The solving of individual issues leads to the resolving of bigger issues over the course of time as the actions add to a tsunami effect.

Every one of us meets a variety of problems on a daily basis.  Some commute to work and face traffic or other logistical issues.  What does one do when the train is late or the road is closed?  Does one stay home and whine about the problem?  Of course not.  We get on with taking a different course than usual and make the trek as painless as possible.  Those of us who live in metropolitan areas have the advantage of radio reports giving traffic conditions and alternative routes.  The principle of cooperation and information gathering applies in most every difficult circumstance in life these days.

Every problem of the day has multiple possible solutions.  We as individuals may see some or many solutions.  We pick the one alternative best suited to our temperament or the one approach most likely to succeed.  If we choose solutions or alternatives which benefit many people besides ourselves the wave begins and our society as a whole benefits.  In the end then our own life is better as a result.  We must never forget we are all in this together.

Any major problem can be broken down into component parts.  One may resolve any large issue by attacking and resolving the smaller pieces one at a time.  In the end the larger problem is solved.  That is the precise idea I suggest.  Not one of us alive today is capable on our own of resolving some of the world’s biggest issues (take for example, global warming) but if every person takes on a bit of the problem the collective power becomes a force for good and for resolution in the end.  We each and every one are obligated in my mind to invest our efforts in the overall betterment of our society.  We may on a daily basis then begin to return some part of what we have been given for ourselves.  Some among us have larger resources or abilities than others but every person alive today can contribute some measure of effort to the world’s problems by attacking the immediate problem at hand.

In most of life I do not believe the end always justifies the means.  That thinking may be twisted to include some nefarious means to an end benefiting the few at the expense of the many.  I do believe those means bringing benefit to the most of society will lead to an end better than the beginning if the course is universally applied.  The problem is getting people to see what benefits the larger society and finding ways to move our nation in that direction.

Now I have taken the course of pointing out a problem, it behooves me to offer a solution or two.  For me the beginning is simple.  We as a society need to work more as a team than as competing individuals.  Together we are one powerful force but our strength is diluted if we continue to struggle alone against the force on the other side (no matter what that force may be) or if we work against one another.  The future will affect every one alive at any point in time.  The sooner we begin to work together as a force for positive change the better our future is to be.

The key is working together.  To coordinate the larger effort we need leaders who surround themselves with problem solvers.  We do not need “leaders” who lead by pushing the group along a course chosen by the “leader.”  We need leadership with the flexibility to change course in the face of need or the offering of new solutions and the strength to stay the proper course in the face of opposition.  Real leaders are not blind to ideas outside their own ideals or knowledge.  Real leaders inspire others to offer possible solutions so all may see the ideas and from the stew may come the best answer.

Once leadership is in place, and that leader may arise from the pack or any one of us may take the job in accordance with our abilities, the job right at hand is the one to attack.  We cannot sit idly by and wait for others to finish any given chore or to take on any given problem.  We must do the work ourselves.  Apathy and indifference are draining our nation today.  To avoid the ultimate demise of our society we must confront both feelings every time we meet them in our lives.

If apathy or indifference are found in another person, how much effort is necessary to expound and talk about your personal excitement and your personal drives?  Can we change another life that way?  Sure we can.  We change no one if we fail to speak up and speak out.

We can continue to protest on street corners and speak or write about the issues of our nation today, but at the same time we are responsible for providing such solutions as are within our grasp.  We cannot afford to wait for someone else to solve all our problems.  We can examine solutions provided by others in hope of finding better ways, but in the end the solution will be in ourselves and in our actions on a daily basis.

Problem solving becomes easier with time and practice, just like riding that first bicycle.  The first solution may not work no matter how attractive the idea seemed at the time.  By trying to solve the problem new information is gathered for use in the next trial.  As an allied medical professional I use this technique on a daily basis.  Not every problem presented is a simple one.  Some needs lots of possible solutions learned from past experiences in order to find a final resolution.  Some new puzzles are not resolved no matter the effort put to the task but every situation is an opportunity to learn and to make some positive move toward the future.

Today is the day to start.  Few of us face a single day without some problem or another to face.  If our life is simple enough to have no problems there are bigger fish to fry.  World peace, global warming, hunger, and poverty are too big to be resolved by any one person but working in concert, doing the bit we are able, we can solve any troubling issue in the world today.  We have to begin and we must sustain our work, but seeking solutions rather than pointing out problems is the way to go for a better future for one and all.


Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-01.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.