President Obama and American Dreams

Published on Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama and American Dreams

Jahed Ahmed

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"I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington….I'm asking you to believe in yours." During its vigorous presidential campaign, Obama's official site,, held this saying of him in the main page.


Americans voters had demonstrated their belief in Obama's abilities in an unprecedented manner. Barack Obama is being sworn in as the country's 44th president today.

Americans were desperate to see a real change in their leadership. They seemed to be deeply driven by the motto, as it was once said by Charles Evans Hughes, the chief justice of the US Supreme Court (1862-1948): when we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

Few people could once imagine - a country that had granted its black citizens the rights to vote only 43 years ago (1965)- would elect a back man for the presidency in 2008. Even a decade ago, having a black (or, African-American) candidate run for the US presidency was seen as an unlikely possibility.

Like their trust in Obama, American voters' expectations of him are also very high. For a country faced with the worst economic crisis since the WW II, huge unemployment rates and a tarnished image in the outside world, challenges that Obama would be dealing with are also unlike those faced by many of the past presidents. Obama, however, seems aware and has started his preparations as soon as he was elected.

Back in 2005, having ranked him as one of the 100 most influential persons of the world, TIME magazine commented:

".....many Americans have even greater hopes for him. They see him as a man who cannot only repair the growing divide between Democrats and Republicans but also ease racial tensions that persist more than four decades after Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed his dream at the Lincoln Memorial. It's an almost impossible set of expectations, but for a man whose first name in Swahili means "blessed by God," nothing seems out of reach. "

With Obama being sworn-in as the first black president in American history, Martin Luther King Jr.'s dreams have come true. Now we would have to wait to see the destiny of the dreams that Americans are having on and about Obama.

Best of luck, America!


New York


Jahed Ahmed, an employee of the NY state government, is a secular activist and writer. He's involved with, a humanist network and "muktwanesha"-a Bangla magazine on science and rationalism published from Dhaka. E-mail:

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