JOPLIN, Mo. —
After overcoming a nasty billion-dollar campaign resisting his re-election, Barack Obama can finally say “alea Iacta est,” which translates to “the die is cast.”
He has finally thrown down the gauntlet on his Republican nemeses and started to march across the Rubicon River to claim his rightful place in the history of this nation. He has tried, nobly, for four years to reach common ground with the opposition — all to no avail. He has instead been met with a constant chorus of opposition from those unwilling to cooperate, compromise or legitimize his presidency.
It took a dramatic, come-from-behind victory to change the agenda equation. But change in his attitude has come, and as he gazed back at the hundreds of thousands of ardent, flag-waving supporters after his inaugural address, he seemed confident, self-assured, determined and doggedly insistent on changing the dynamic of his second term.
Good for him. This is the type of shift in schadenfreude that can bring about major achievements or result in colossal catastrophe, politically speaking. Either way you look at it, his choice was to stop tippy-toeing around his opponents and to brazenly stand up for those who elected him. After all, “there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
For those of us who are partisans, it is about time he got a real grip. He finally chose to dance with the crowd that brought him. For those who don’t share his beliefs, it must have sounded like fingernails being scratched against a blackboard for 18 minutes. Perhaps he will appeal to his critics in the upcoming State of the Union address. Some of them might even listen.
As for Obama finally channeling his true inner aspirations, it has only taken Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, wildfires in the West and drought and gargantuan tornadoes in the Midwest for this president to finally say climate change is real, and he is going to do something about it.
It has taken midnight massacres at movie theaters and the slaughter of 20 sweet, innocent schoolchildren for him to say “enough!” We must do something to end this madness of major gun violence.
Belief in yourself is a powerful force. Belief in a nation of people who believe in an even greater destiny for themselves and their country is a self-fulfilling and self-sustaining path to greater progress.
By throwing down the gauntlet in his inaugural address, Obama has finally stepped into the shoes of the man we thought we elected the first time.
To strive nobly to attain a goal — even one that seems at times unattainable — is not radical. It is in the true tradition of American politics. It is the American way. It is as American as the Hudson Valley apple pie the inaugural party had for lunch. It shows the true American spirit.
May the forces of destiny be with you, Mr. President.
You will need all the energy and goodwill you can muster to tackle the daunting task of solving the many ills that beset us as a nation. God speed, Mr. President, and as you face the inevitable headwinds of opposition to your leadership, may the winds of your supporters be ever at your back.
John Sullivan lives in Pittsburg, Kan. He teaches at Pittsburg State University and at Missouri Southern State University.