Unclench the Fist
By Greg Quinn
January 21st, 2009
Today marks a new page in history. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America. It is truly a historical moment. Having listened intently to the ceremonies surrounding the day, especially his acceptance speech, I am drawn to one phrase that he uttered that I believe has great significance to all Americans this day. During his acceptance speech, President Obama said, ďWe hold out an outstretched hand if you will unclench your fist to receive itĒ. This phrase, though eloquent, certainly can symbolize were we are as Americans. We must unclench our fists to receive the outstretched hand of the other.
An open hand is the sign of friendship. A fist is the sign of war. Obama was correct in that we cannot receive the hand of another in friendship if our fists are clinched in opposition.
Now, most of you know that I am a conservative Republican. A liberal Democrat won the Presidential election. We could not be more polar opposites. That said, weeks ago during the election, Obama was an adversary and an opponent in a very critical race. Today, Obama is my President. Yesterday, I opposed his views and did what I could to prevent him from taking office. Today, he is the President of the country that I dearly love. One day literally does make all the difference.
Therefore, what can we all do to put the political contest behind us, and enjoin one another for the betterment of our nation? First, set aside our differences. Obamaís political views were very different than mine, and remain that way. However, he won and there is work to be done. All Americans need to rally together and work together and figure out a way to beat the problems in front of us. It will take teamwork; all of us working together. We can and will see things very differently. I will not agree with Obamaís position on many topics. Yet, I can still find a way to set aside our differences and work together for the good of the nation. What should we do? Set aside our differences. Unclench the fist.
The race for President was not about race, yet many tried to make it appear that race was the case. While there are likely some bigoted Americans that voted for Obama or didnít vote for Obama on the basis of race alone, I think this attitude is extremely poor and doesnít move any of us closer together. I was just as upset at people like Oprah Winfrey and Colin Powell who made statements that they were in support of Obama because he was black as much as I was upset at other people I know that were in opposition to Obama for the same reason. Race should not have been an issue in this election. But it was. That said, I think it is truly great that America has grown so far as a nation that we can come together to elect a President who is a minority. But, with the election over, race should no longer be an issue. Yes, a minority American won the election, and that is great. But, that was yesterday. Today, we have a new President, and race doesnít matter. What should we do? Set the issue of race aside. Unclench the fist.
We all have differing viewpoints, and we live in a country that allows us to do so. Such is the basics of democracy. That is a great thing. At the same time, many are in opposition to others due to their differing viewpoints. Obama and I disagree on many topics, ranging from Second Amendment rights to the rights of the unborn. While I will never accept his viewpoints as my own, our nation allows us to work together even though we do not agree. What are we to do? Unclench the fist, and find ways to work together for success.
How to we reconcile areas where neither of us will bend? I cannot bend on areas such as the right to keep and bear arms, given to us by God and acknowledged by our founding fathers. I cannot bend on areas such as an infantís right to life. Some areas cannot be compromised. In these areas, we must recognize that our new President is an opponent of our views. Therefore, we must work through Congress, work with our Senators and Representatives, work through organizations like the NRA and Right To Life, and try to get positive movement in areas in which compromise is not an option. On other areas, however, we may have to compromise. I donít believe in the government running healthcare or education, but these are areas that I could give a bit of a reprieve in order to win in the more important areas such as previously mentioned. I do know this: if we stand with a clenched fist, then we will not be willing to accept the outstretched hand of another with a different view. So, we can agree to stand firm in some things, and use political pressure to garner support for the causes in which we cannot bend. In other areas, we must be willing to find compromise. Unclench the fist.
We have before us a tremendous opportunity. History has already been made. Change is coming. Letís work together to make sure that the change is of a positive nature. Letís work together to make sure that the decisions are best for all Americans. Letís set aside our differences to where victory can be accomplished. We can only do that if we will unclench the fist, and take the open hand of another by extending yours.
Go ahead. Unclench the fist.