Political Intelligence

The traits that make or break leaders

The Compassion Nation

This is who we are.

“We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag, to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner… You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organiser who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who's working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.”

On the morning after the election, before a country wakes up to the sight of itself in the mirror. It gets a glimpse of who and what it really is. Obama’s re-election occurred in the face of a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, and a line of billionaire donors, corporations and vested interests who, in an unprecedented fashion, due to new campaign finance laws, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the campaign against him. And yet, Obama—the man and his administration—triumphed. And the root of his appeal ran through the entirety of his acceptance speech; compassion.

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Tens of millions of Americans who formerly had no healthcare coverage at all will now be insured. Millions more besides who, after a lifetime of coverage, would have been left high and dry when they needed support due to so called “pre-existing conditions” will now receive the care they need. Medicare will remain a cherished program, with no prospect of being turned into a voucher program and, when it comes to balancing the budget, a disproportionately high burden will not be placed upon the poor, but, instead, those who can pay more will be asked to do so.

The America we wake up to today is a nobler and kinder America, and, ironically, a powerful demonstration of this came from Mitt Romney himself in his most gracious and stirring concession speech. He ended the speech as he began; “The nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.” As he repeatedly offered his prayers for the man who defeated him, you sensed a sincerity and authenticity that he often appeared to lack during the campaign. 

Before the wheels of government churn back into action, there is now a brief moment for reflection. Unlike many other countries in the developed world today who chose to respond to the economic crisis by demanding sacrifice from those who can afford to bare it the least and, in many instances, used it as an excuse to target the most vulnerable in society, America chose a different course. And last night, that choice was unmistakably endorsed.

The United States of America should be feeling good about itself right now.

Russell Razzaque, M.D. is a British psychiatrist and author of Obama Karma: Lessons on Living Inspired by the 44th President.

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