President Obama gave a rousing state of the union address that had us all pumped up and saying “YEAH! THAT’S THE GUY I VOTED FOR!!!”
Many are ready to go out and campaign for him now, but there are still those who are grumbling about the things he hasn’t done yet. These are people who wanted a Roosevelt type of president who would come in and kick ass and get things going. So since they didn’t get what they wanted, they’re ready to let the Republicans win. For this group, I’d like to offer an explanation for Obama’s actions from my own perspective.
When you watch President Obama’s actions, you have to take the area of the country where he grew up into consideration. Obama is not from the streets of New York or L.A. He didn’t grow up in “the hood” of a large city, nor did he grow up in the overt racism that exists in some areas of the south.
Barack Obama grew up where racism exists below the surface. He grew up where many of the people do or say racist things without ever realizing the racist nature of what they are doing or saying. Much of his adult life’s work occurred in the Midwest – an area of the country where racism exists, but in a much more subtle form.
Over 30 years of working in the business world, I’ve watched black co-workers work within this framework. Some handle it masterfully, and advance their positions. Others don’t get it, and quickly move elsewhere.
Those who are successful in this environment operate in much the way Obama has acted since he became President. If you understand it, you understand how smart he is, and how he has set the stage for a rockin’ second term. Genius.
In the Midwest, if a black man who is new to the company comes into his position and starts ordering, directing and demanding, he isn’t going to be looked upon favorably, and he’s not going to last long. The man who is successful is the man who can come in and take time to earn the trust and confidence of those around him. He sits in meetings and asks questions that tactically bring up points that others might demand. Over time, those who work around him begin to understand him as a person, and as he gains their confidence he can begin to take a more direct approach to getting things done. How long this takes depends upon the people around him. His ability to adjust to situations and opportunities will dictate what he does next. If he’s managed it properly, he will eventually be able to take a strong leadership role.
When people accuse President Obama of “leading from behind”, this is why. He knew from the beginning that he was working with a majority of white guys, and that the majority of Americans are white, so he needed to take a gradual and deliberate approach. He needed to act responsibly and earn the trust of those whom he serves. Since his inauguration President Obama has been in charge, but he’s had to be very careful about how he is viewed in the public eye – much more so than any other president in our history. Over the last 3 years he’s gradually become more public with increasingly controversial decisions, and also with the true role of leadership that he’s been performing all along. He’s done what he has needed to do the way he’s needed to do it, and he’s done it brilliantly.
The President is now in a position where he has to openly, and very visibly, take charge. He is prepared to do so. And, judging from what we all saw in the State of the Union Address, he is now very willing to do so. Most importantly, he’s given the American people time to get to know and understand him, and he’s given his opposition time to expose their true nature. As a result, more people are going to be receptive to his leadership – even those who would have rejected it before without really understanding why (“it’s just a feeling”).
Many have felt abandoned by Obama, mostly for very selfish reasons, and so they didn’t help in 2010. Don’t make that mistake this time. We’re getting the guy we wanted, but he’s not going to be successful without us. We’ve got to get him back into office, and we’ve got to get him the help he needs in the Congress – a Democratic majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate. It’s up to us.
N-O-R. Not One Republican, 2012 - Pass it on