The lessons in church today were about light as a symbol of the Holy Spirit descending upon us to show us the way forward. They were fitting and appropriate for this week of celebration as Barack Obama becomes our President. I don’t know—or think, at least—that God has intervened to send Barack Obama to save us from our fiscal ruin. Although I know some who want desperately to believe that he has received “the call” for just such a purpose.
While Obama can not be expected to snap his fingers and fix our problems overnight, he does have the “big mo” and if he spends it wisely he can raise our spirits and re-energize our optimism about the future and thus re-enlist us all in the great American dream once again. Since financial panics and recessions are as much about psychology and confidence as about economics, Barack Obama can make a material difference in the depth and duration of this recession and our competitive advantage in the recovery ahead.
So my advice is cheer him on, wish him well—and pray for him next Sunday and each one after that—while we all roll up our sleeves and get focused on what we each can do to help him help us achieve the goal of a sound, successful, robust economic future.
Obama also has the “big mo” to do something few of his predecessors have been willing to do—ask us to sacrifice for the sake of a greater good, stronger American future, and better world. We’re already hurting, but will the endgame be memories of hurt or renewal and transformation. There is chatter about a “grand bargain” that integrates the economy, energy, and environmental issues in ways that improve our alignment and enhance the prospects for renewal. It feels to me as if America is ready for a “grand bargain” that is truly based upon a shared vision of the American future.
Obama has a chance to be a transformational leader if he rises above the current carnage in the markets and uses the money we are going to spend anyway to re-align our policies, strategies and psyche to drive that “grand bargain” into reality. He can also do this in a way that is bi-partisan and changes the tone in Washington from “gim’me” and “gotcha” to “attaboy” and “ah-ha!” A transformational leader who changes the tone and inspires us to renew the spirit of America would truly be a gift from God!