I sometimes write in a bit of a snarky sarcastic tone, but the truth is — and I think my friends and family would agree with me on this — I’m generally a pretty optimistic person. Indeed, it’s optimism that things will get better that keeps me going. And mostly, that optimism springs from acknowledging the good things when they do happen. (Like this morning, for example. With the gas tank on empty, the bank account close to empty as well, and the paycheck not arriving until Friday, I check my bank account to find that my Health Savings Account reimbursement came through. See? Somehow it usually all works out.)
A year ago when Barack Obama was gaining supporters left and right, I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. Although I found his speeches inspirational, frankly, I thought they contained less detail than even most political speeches. I have fully supported him as the Democratic nominee, and I am excited that we will once again have a Democratic administration. But I do still worry that Obama can/will follow through on his promises and our hopes.
So I found this essay over at TruthOut to be optimistic and hopeful, and helpful. Acknowledging the good, remember? We’ve had good Presidents before, and it’s quite possible that Barack Obama might be outstanding at this job:
Celebrations of Barack Obama’s election as president of the United States erupted in countries around the world. From Europe to Africa to the Middle East, people were jubilant. After suffering though eight years of an administration that violated more human rights than any other in US history, Obama spells hope for a new day ….
Although the US government frequently criticizes other countries for their human rights transgressions, the United States has been one of the most flagrant violators. We have refused to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). And while the United States worked with other countries for 50 years to create the International Criminal Court, it has failed to ratify that treaty as well. When we ratify a treaty, it becomes part of US law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution ….
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose New Deal helped lift us out of the Depression, gave his famous Four Freedoms speech, focused on freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. Roosevelt fleshed out the freedom from want and fear principles in his Economic Bill of Rights. It contained equality of opportunity, the right to a job and a decent wage, the end of special privileges for the few, universal civil liberties, guaranteed old-age pensions, unemployment insurance and medical care.
FDR’s Bill of Rights formed the basis for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Eleanor Roosevelt helped draft, and which the UN General Assembly adopted in 1949. The Declaration embraced two types of human rights: civil and political rights on the one hand; and economic, social and cultural rights on the other ….
The United States’s flouting of the United Nations in its unilateral war on Iraq, and torture of prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Iraq has engendered widespread condemnation in the international community. Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh, citing Professor Louis Henkin, summarized the hypocrisy of the United States in the area of human rights as follows: “In the cathedral of human rights, the US is more like a flying buttress than a pillar – choosing to stand outside the international structure supporting the international human rights system, but without being willing to subject its own conduct to the scrutiny of the system.”
We should encourage President-elect Obama to send the ICESCR to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification. Becoming a party to that treaty will help not only the people in this country; it will also engender respect for the United States around the world ….