A Time for Americans to Unite
By John Bridgeland and Tom Freedman
Congratulations President-elect Barack Obama!
Let us bend your ear for just a minute and, like other Americans, tell you our hopes and dreams.
This election hasoften been referred to as the most important in a lifetime. While thatcan be debated, it can۪t be argued that it is the most important topoor and struggling people in a tough economy right now.
Decisions about howto mend the safety net and create opportunity aren۪t abstract questionsto poor people, but vital ones that help determine whether childrenwill have health care and succeed in school and whether parents willhave jobs and live in safe neighborhoods.
We started thiscolumn a year ago, a Republican and a Democrat, with the hope that adiscussion among leaders across America would lead to a higher profilefor, and good ideas to address, poverty. And the belief that there is anonpartisan sensibility to be supportedthat a majority of Americanswill put aside partisanship in favor of action and results.
It worked. Creativethinkers on both sides of the aisle generated thoughtful ideas abouthow to address poverty, helping to offer a bipartisan agenda upon whichthe new Administration and Congress can act.
We believed then, andit۪s been supported by our experience with this website, that there isa majority of Americans who will unite to support bold action onpoverty.
It turns out it is not a conservative belief or a liberal belief to think that America should be a land of opportunity.
We know you face adifficult job. But it is a job that is made easier when Americans argueabout substance, and not for political points.
So today is a day notjust for presenting a wish list for the new president, but to say thatall Americans have a responsibility to focus on helping those most inneed.
All Americans should support the new president as he tackles the job.
Let us hope thecountry will unite to fight for those struggling to make it. Let ushope we will build a platform gathering Americans together in supportof a bold new plan — led by our new president — that offers a hand topoor people to climb ladders of opportunity. Let us hope that we see anew era of bipartisanship and that it benefits the poorest and theneediest among us.