My hopes for President Obama's first four years

Obama hope poster

Obama hope poster

One of Barack Obama‘s campaign themes was Hope.  Now that he’s been elected and sworn into office (twice), the question is whether he will be able to live up to everyone’s hopes for his presidency.

Someone (I really can’t remember who) suggested that since we have such high hopes, it would be interesting to write them all down and then revisit them in a year (or four) to see whether President Obama was able to live up to them.  The fact of the matter is that even the most well meaning president will have a lot of obstacles in his way – from the popularity of his choices with the voting public to the other branches of government – such is democracy.

Anyway, here are the things that I hope President Obama will be able to accomplish in the next four years:

  • Close Guantanamo Bay detention center.  Between the fact that the inmates there have not been convicted of anything (or even charged), have all their rights denied and that they are tortured, Guantanamo Bay detention center should be closed as soon as possible.  Incredibly, this seems to already be on its way – on his second day, the President signed an order to close it.
  • End the recession.  Everyone agrees that something should be done to repair the economy as soon as possible, but nobody knows what should be done.  It is the President’s unenviable task of being responsible for solving this problem, and I think four years is long enough to do it.
  • Leave Iraq.  The occupation is expensive at a time when the country can least afford the cost, and does not benefit either the Iraqi or American people.  Obviously the withdrawal needs to be carefully managed in order to avoid making the situation worse, but that is the direction I think they need to be going.
  • Repair the damage to the constitution.  Between the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretaps, torture and illegal war, a lot of damage has been done to the civil liberties of Americans (not to mention foreign nationals who have been kidnapped and killed).  While it may be impractical or unwise to prosecute everyone responsible for these negative changes, the laws and practices of the country need to be returned to their right and just state.
  • Environment policy.  For the last years corporate profits have taken priority over environmental concerns, from expanding oill drilling to taking animals off of the endangered list.  President Obama has already started changing things for the better.
  • Network Neutrality.  I lived through the bad old days of CompuServe.  The free Internet is so obviously immeasuably better that only greedy ISPs could want to return to walled gardens and charges by the minute for every service and the ISP controlling everything.  This is a minor point compared to the other items on the list, but it’s personally important to me.  President Obama has already made positive progress on this issue by appointing an advocate of Network Neutrality as FCC chairman.

What have I missed?

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