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Here's Change I Could Believe in, President-Elect Obama

In some impressive ways, President-Elect Barack Obama is the mirror-image of George W. Bush. Early on, George W. Bush rid the presidency of the e-mail address president@whitehouse.gov, ending the Clinton-era avenue by which citizens could communicate their policy ideas to the office of the President. To his credit, Barack Obama has created a web page on which he invites Americans to communicate their suggestions for an Obama presidential agenda.

Here’s my suggestion for Barack Obama:

On February 27, 2008, President-Elect Obama stood in front of me in Columbus, Ohio and spoke these words:

“We will lead by having the highest standards, by setting an example of human rights and civil rights, due process and rule of law, which is why I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus. And we will end torture and rendition because you will have elected a president who has taught the Constitution and believes in the Constitution and will obey the Constitution of the United States of America.

All these things are possible if you are ready for change. But you can’t just sit back and wait for it. You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to go out and vote for it. There are people who are now saying, ‘Well, Obama may talk a good game…’”

Were those people right or wrong? Was he just talking a good game? Since Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, he has hardly spoken of the Constitution at all. In his first radio address as President-elect, Barack Obama did not mention the Constitution. The Constitution is not mentioned on the “Agenda” page of Barack Obama’s change.gov.

What I’m asking is simple. I’m asking for Barack Obama to heed his own words and “work for it,” to obey the Constitution of the United States, to restore respect for the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of the land.

This means working to:

* End extraordinary rendition;
* Close Guantanamo and all other facilities that serve the same purpose of indefinite detention without charge;
* Pass a major revision of the Patriot Act;
* Pass a major revision of the REAL ID Act;
* Repeal the Military Commissions Act;
* Repeal the FISA Amendments Act;
* Reinvigorate the Freedom of Information Act by revising public access to government documents in favor of disclosure;
* Appoint justices and judges to the federal courts who respect civil liberty.

Will President Obama just “talk a good game,” or will he take his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” seriously?

I hope for the latter, but hope alone isn’t enough. I will do what I can as a citizen to exert pressure upon President Barack Obama to make the latter come to pass.

Walk the talk. That’s what you asked of us, Barack Obama. Now that’s what I ask of you.

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