Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Obama Presidency

President-elect Barack Obama's entry into the national mainstream of United States politics has addressed two issues confronting the American people: the desire for change and the issue of racial equality.

We have always been aware of the existence of apartheid as a deep-seated concern, no matter how some sectors claim that it is a thing of the past. The fact remains that apartheid still exists as a strong cultural debacle in the new administration's struggle for change.

The Need for Change

Obama stands for "change" to set a different trend from his predecessor's war-focused leadership, clothed with all justifications but the end-result led to more deaths which could lead to one question: did the end justify the means? Let me rephrase that from an anti-war perspective--must we rejoice whenever more lives were sacrificed to fulfill a mission?

Nobody wants to lose a loved one. Human life is sacred for me, regardless of the religious and racial issue that tagged the previous pro-war administration of President Bush.

Life is a gift from God. An existence that demands the right to be free from violence. All people deserve that.

This writer would not debate on the degree of accomplishments Bush has achieved in the arena of violence or war methodology for I do not accept the simple reason that civilians who died during the war in Iraq was merely dismissed as "part of the collateral damage".

Obama, in one of his interviews, mentioned about his "smart foreign diplomacy". I shall not delve deeply on his message for it is too early to conclude on the outcome of Obama's leadership. He is yet to deliver the expected solutions for the problems besetting the United States in the midst of the ongoing world recession and human rights issues involving the recent Israel-Palestine war in the Gaza strip.

However, one thing which I deem imperative is the need for the Obama presidency to provide a strong and transparent government to the people of the United States.

A public office is a public trust, so goes the saying, hence it is expected of the American electorate to demand a positive political transformation and for President Barack Obama to accept the fact that there is no other way but to live in a glass house.

Transparency in governance is not only a technical need for any powerful leader. It is in fact one of the basic needs of man, all men for that matter, leaders or non-leaders alike. It is an overpowering psychological need that has to be fulfilled.

Abraham Maslow, father of humanistic psychology, stated that every man has five categories of needs, these are: physiologial needs, safety and security needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs.

Maslow stated in his doctrine that the highest form of needs is the "self-actualization needs" for man needs to bring his potentials to a destined realization. Maslow accentuated that if a person expresses himself most fully and has realized his personal dreams, then he has therefore actualized himself.

Of all the categories Maslow mentioned, the need for transparency falls on the safety and security needs. When man's basic needs are not met, there is a natural tendency to want to be assured that the means which the basic needs are set will always be within one's reach and that one will not be unjustly deprived of that which he had tried to procure by dint or hard labour.

Other than the material security and safety needs of every human being, there is the psychological needs of freedom from fear, from attack or violence against one's property or person. Man tries to organize society in such a way that his safety and security needs will be met. Man needs the assurance that he and his family are safe and therefore he shall yearn for a stable peace and order condition wherever he is.

The need for Transparency

Akin to electing a world leader to institute the reform needed by the people, "the need for transparency" is a must. In fact, it is one of the most important requirements to effect change or should I say the effect of change.

The elected and the electorate have an unseen bond that thrives in having one mission and vision for the entire nation towards a progressive and a just administration.

Hence, transparency will establish truth by ensuring that all transactions entered by the government involving the flow of government cash, like budgetary allocation and expenditures are open for public scrutiny.

However, matters concerning the internal security of the State shall be left in the hands of the proper authorities and considered exempted from public eye.

The "Who" of Change

Government transparency is not limited to who speaks what and for whom, but who speaks the truth that is credible and witnessed by the eyes and not merely relayed by the mouth to the ears.

Past lessons of history showed that for any political system that struggles for change, there will always be saboteurs acting against it for its downfall.

Hence I raise the following questions: If transparency in governance means that everybody has the right to raise criticisms, then who has the right to air a grievance? What steps must be instituted to filter those sectors which advance legitimate concerns from those which are mainly motivated by their vested interest?

Leadership vigilance comes into the setting- the vigilance to determine which groups are truly deserving of attention.

There will be sectoral leaders who will claim authority to speak for one sector, but do they really air the real concerns of the people they stand for? The true voice of the people should stand amidst the noise caused by divided politics and other form of discriminatory campaigns.

The HOW of Transparency

The Obama government should conduct sectoral consultations and appoint credible and principled people to immerse themselves into the problems of one sector by feeling the emotions of the oppressed and knowing the details of the technicalities that go with the problems.

The feedback system is a very effective way of monitoring developments of governmental initiatives. Meaning, the beneficiaries of a government project should be the proper people to give feedback on the result of such undertaking by the government.


Finally, transparency in the Obama administration should not start and end with the government. The people must also help the elected president deliver what is expected of him by giving him the true feedback and this is why GRASSROOTS connection must be exhausted.

The poor and the helpless must have a voice to let their leaders know what kind of assistance is rightfully theirs.

By identifying sectoral problems and ensuring that the right beneficiaries get what they deserve, transparency will work in both positive ways: for the receptive and reachable presidency and for the participative people whose concern is for the success of the government where they belong.

No comments:

Empowered Women

Empowered Women