A leader does more than just inspire. A true visionary not only identifies challenges and lays out his/her tangible solutions, but moves people to action. Recently, President Obama did precisely that during his State of The Union address. In a speech that can only be described as unifying, inclusive, honest and optimistic, the president outlined both our progress and our remaining tasks ahead. It was a masterful address comprised of the right energy and enthusiasm on our continued road to recovery. The President laid down the framework; now it’s up to us to hit the pavement and carry that message through. One man cannot do it alone. If we care at all about the current state of our union, then we must work together to shape the future state of our union.
“Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better,” said the President. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all. So our job is to reverse these trends. It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.”
From income inequality and jobs, to immigration, voting rights and gender equality, the president outlined key issues that need our immediate attention. Democracy isn’t a passive form of governing; it requires us all to raise our voices, vote, reach out to our representatives, organize and rally around issues that impact us every single day. We’ve had enough of the punditry, enough of both progressives and right-wingers acting like they are the smartest people in the room. It’s time for the public — for the people — to get informed, educate their neighbors, register to vote, help others register and elect representatives that care more about repairing society than advancing their own careers.
Whether it’s making sure the minimum wage is increased, comprehensive immigration reform is passed, women’s rights protected, voter equality expanded and preserved, we must be the advocates for the change which we want to see in this world. A single individual cannot do everything — not even the president. Progress will only be achieved through the executive office and with action in the streets and in the suites of America. We must get to work immediately. Those who continually obstruct the president and obstruct equality do not rest, and neither should we. Every moment they plot and plan new schemes to divide us and regress society; we need to spend every moment strategizing ways to heal and advance us all.
Over the past several years, my organization, National Action Network, has been heavily involved with key civil rights issues like pushing back against harsh new voter ID laws, fighting on behalf of victims of police brutality, organizing gun buyback programs and education tours, advocating for community empowerment and more.
In 2014, our efforts will only increase. And I hope all Americans will do the same. We need to go into a spring and summer of action since clearly the obstructionists have no plans to cease their regressive behavior. This must be a year when we rise together peacefully and not only let our voices be heard, but let our actions unequivocally speak for themselves. For the only way to fight against inequality is to bring about more justice for every man, woman and child.
It’s important to remember that when facing an immovable object, we must greet it with irreversible force. That is the only way.