Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Immediate "To Do" List

If you're like me, you're getting one petition after another urging you to tell the new guy what to get done first. Does it surprise you that my immediate "To Do" list for Obama doesn't look like any of the others out there? Here it is:

Watch your back. I've learned that when W makes a big show of doing the right thing,it probably means he's going to do exactly the opposite. (Remember his promise of humility in foreign policy? Of "compassionate conservatism"? His pledge to be "a uniter, not a divider"?) Well. Bush's recent show of instructing his staff to ensure that there's a smooth transition struck a false note with me. It's not like he's got the country's best interests in mind.

That's it. I'm happy to back off and let President-Elect Obama do what he's doing right now; I voted for him because I trust his judgment.

However, I do have an immediate "To Do" list for us--for you and me and everyone who wants to get this country back together. Here goes:

1. Put the limelight and the pressure on the White House to stop the avalanche of last-minute executive orders and regulations that are designed to advantage Bush and Cheney's wealthy Republican buddies and to thwart the agenda of the newly elected President.

2. Vow right now not to let relatively minor disappointments in policy or immediate priorities cause us to splinter. We can best help Obama by giving him a powerful, united public base for doing the work he needs to do. He'd going to be more centrist than some of us hope, but just remember that whatever he does will be a vast improvement over the Republican alternative. Keep that in mind. There will be time in his second term for a swing to the Left.

3. Try to reach across the aisle. We have to help Obama heal the division. If we fail to do that, he and his family will be at even greater personal risk, and his ability to govern will be hampered by even more obstructionism and hatred. We can't turn his bitterest enemies into friends, but more moderate Republicans can be embraced if they wish to be.

4. Continue the work of Civil Rights. Gay and Lesbian Americans were just told by three states in no uncertain terms that we are to be second-class citizens. It wasn't just African Americans, and it wasn't just Mormons. To their eternal shame, ninety-nine percent of local mosques, synagogues and mainline churches were either silent (complicit)or concurred with 100 percent of fundamentalist and evangelical churches that separate and unequal is good enough for us. They said that "certain inalienable rights" -- including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" -- don't apply to us.

Well, guess what? They apply to us. They also apply to immigrants and to women and to transgendered people, and to every other human being on this planet. Just as we believed in the sixties, we believe now that those rights weren't awarded by nationality or gender or sexual orientation. They are universal and they are inalienable. Let's remind our fellow citizens of that fact by every peaceful means necessary, and be even more determined to seize that birthright wherever it's in question.