Over here at my house (and at the home of the friends whom we celebrated with last night), we are dancing in the streets. I expected President Obama would be re-elected (just as I suspected he’d be elected the history-making first go-round), but there’s nothing like having the bird actually in hand. There was a lot at stake in this year’s election, and though I can generally respect opinions from all sides of the political spectrum, in recent years, the far right has led the Republican party off the solid path of things I don’t agree with but respect, into the wilderness of things that simply have no factual basis and must be rejected out of hand — such as the idea that Creationism is a science, that a woman who gets pregnant can’t have been raped, or Mr. Ryan’s idea that religion should shape policy — an idea expressly rejected by the way by, oh, I don’t know, the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
Because Romney and Ryan were or pretended to be so far to the non-sensical right (as distinguished from the rational right of Presidents Reagan and Bush 41), I believe that this is a good day for the majority of the American people, people who, for the most part, need a president who understands that they can’t just borrow money for a business from their parents or shop around for a college that they can afford.
As we move into the second term of the Obama Presidency, I have high hopes that he will achieve some of the high aims that he set forth in 2008, when all things seemed possible and the nation was poised for change. We still need change, it will still be as hard to come by as ever, but Obama is our current best hope, and his first term suggests a genuine commitment to making a better world for our country and our world.
Here are four things I hope Obama will do with his second term:
One. Talk more about poverty and race — and advance policies that do the work that still needs doing to ensure a society that reflects the Founding Fathers’ idea that “all men are created equal” and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of “the beloved community.” I fully expect Obama to go the distance on poverty and race — it’s consistent with his commitment to social justice and change. In his second term, he will have the opportunity to be bolder and I believe he will be. For a compelling look at the distance Obama has yet to travel on poverty and race, read Columbia University Political Science Frederick C. Harris’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, “The Price Of A Black President.”
Two. Appoint Supreme Court justices who will follow the equal protection clause to it’s logical conclusion, making marriage a federal right for all couples and who will do what they can to stop or even reverse the erosion of affirmative action and a woman’s right to choose.
Three. Continue the important work he’s already doing on climate change. One of the most compelling treatments of the imperatives of climate change policy appeared in a 2006 Vanity Fair article entitled “While Washington Slept.” It’s compelling reading for anyone who cares about the future of Planet Earth.
Four. Elevate the narrative and be the master storyteller that he is. Because story matters, a truism Obama proved in 2008 and again in his victory speech last night.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAMON WINTER for The New York Times
PAULA PURYEAR is a Lawyer, Film & Television writer, HuffPoster and Founder of Revel In It Mag.