The Future of the World

I'm a father of two, a political centrist, and deeply concerned about the world's future. The problems we face are immense, and the U.S. seems to have completely lost the moral courage to confront problems head on. We're a nation sweeping dirt under the rug, and the pile of dirt is now bigger than Mt. Everest. Seven decades ago, the United States had a greatest generation that stood up to almost overwhelming challenges, sacrificed broadly, and prevailed. Today, every interest group scrambles to maintain their entitlement, and we collectively seem content to pass on an untenable world to our children.

I did nothing to influence the U.S. Presidential election in the year 2000, believing it didn't really matter who won, and that no single person could really make a difference to a process so large in scope. Well, eight years later, it's clear just how wrong I was. So, as the disaster of the Bush Administration unfolded, I concluded that I needed to be an active participant in the 2008 Presidential election -- not to get a Democrat (or independent, or Republican) elected, but to get someone in office with the potential to show real leadership.

In November of 2006, I sent a letter to Barack Obama urging him to run for the Presidency. Four months later, my family and I met him in Columbia, South Carolina, in March of 2007, and I joined the newly-formed Obama National Finance Committee. In April, 2007, we then hosted a fund-raiser for him and Michelle at our home in Charleston, South Carolina, a day that managed to make its way into Barack Obama's Election Victory Speech. At that luncheon fund-raiser, we had 150 people pay $1,000 each to meet Barack and Michelle, and the enthusiasm was sky high in very conservative Charleston!

As our family traveled around the world, we saw firsthand the world's enthusiasm for Barack Obama. Without a doubt, the United States has trampled its worldwide reputation in the past decade, but in a single election, we've -- at least temporarily -- restored our standing around the world. And as we traveled, I spent time each day fund-raising for Barack Obama. I probably wore out my welcome in many friends' e-mail in-boxes, but the cause was urgent.

In the middle of our trip, I went to Iowa and spent eight days in Iowa going door to door before their caucus. My family and I went to the Democratic Convention, surviving chaos in Denver. And I spent the last few days before the election going door to door in Billings, Montana. I max'ed out on every donor category possible, and felt that I had given my all to something I hope will bring all of our children a better future.

So now we've returned from our trip. Barack Obama is the President-elect, and I feel that the world has changed -- profoundly. But now comes the hard part. I am convinced that Barack Obama, more than anyone else alive, has the best chance to get our entire nation working together to address huge challenges, to recreate the same "Greatest Generation" spirit of sacrifice and community service that saved the free world sixty years ago. But he's also walking into enormous challenges, and even super-human effort may not be enough.

My biggest hope now is that the Obama Administration will find a way to engage each of us in meaningful service. I don't believe the broken bureaucracies of the Federal government will deliver real results, but it's possible the legacy of Barack Obama is showing the country and the world how we can all work together (with a little help from modern technology) to address our biggest problems. Time will tell.

Ted Dintersmith