Can He Deliver?
We crave truth and hope, do we not? The soul longs for justice, for unity, for prosperity, for peace. And how our spirits soar at the promise of strong leadership to guide us to greatness.
You could read it on the faces in Chicago and around the country as they celebrated Barack Obama’s victory. Optimism. Euphoria. Confidence. Hope. Yes we can. Tears of joy flowed. On every network, analysts spoke of the transformative nature of this moment in American, even global, history. Hope-filled congratulations and praise poured in from around the world.
For many, many people, expectations of what the coming years will bring are floating in the stratosphere. In his victory speech, the new president-elect mused about the possibility of his daughters living a hundred years and seeing a better world. “What change will they see? What progress will we have made?” he asked. “This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time … to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope.”
Oh, how we need hope. In a sick and suffering world, how we need hope.
Obama’s campaign effectively turned the U.S. election into a referendum on hope. And his victory, while one cannot discount the matchless effectiveness of his campaign, can fairly be described as a resounding statement of just how Americans yearn for something in which to invest hope.
Now, it must be said: As deep and sincere and justified as that yearning may be, time is about to treat it very unkindly.
We can expect events swiftly to expose the fact that no mortal man—even one assuming the highest office in the world’s most powerful country—could ever fulfill the hope that people have invested in this individual.
Who Will Save the World?
The weekend before the election, at a rally in Harlem, a state representative stumping for Mr. Obama led an enthusiastic crowd in this call-and-response:
“Who is going to lead us out of poverty?” “Barack Obama!”
“Who is going to save the United States of America?” “Barack Obama!”
“Who is going to save the entire world?” “Barack Obama!”
Mr. Obama made mention in his victory speech of accepting the win “with a measure of humility.” But it was a token mention. The fact is that from the beginning, his campaign clothed itself in grandiosity. The more eloquent the rhetoric and far-reaching the promises, the more his supporters allowed themselves to hope. All nuclear material worldwide—safeguarded within four years. All nuclear weapons development—stopped. Afghanistan—solved. Al Qaeda—crushed. Darfur genocide—over. The Middle East peace process—brought to a safe, secure conclusion. World poverty—cut in half. Inner cities—revitalized. Immigration law—fixed. Health care—guaranteed for every American. Social Security—saved. Federal waste—eliminated. Taxes—cut for 95 percent of Americans. The economy—completely transformed. Carbon emissions—slashed. Energy crisis—solved. It seems no problem was too great for this man to fling out a bold promise to solve it.
Perhaps it should have come as no surprise, then, to hear a crowd that apparently believes Mr. Obama can save both the country and the world. Or to realize that many people believe that government can expand while simultaneously cutting taxes for 95 percent of Americans—even though 32 percent of Americans don’t even pay taxes. Or to hear a supporter claim, as one did, how excited she was that, once this man is president, “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car—I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage.” Oh, how all those promises stir hope.
But soon, inevitably, reality will set in. Global crises will still occur. The financial meltdown will not go away—it will grow worse under the “fixes” that put the country deeper in debt. Cars will still need gas, and mortgages will still need to be paid. America’s next president will soon find himself in over his head.
When these rains of adversity descend, and the floods and winds beat vehemently against people’s hope, that hope will fall—because it is founded on sand.
Reality about how the world will respond to the coming administration began to loom immediately.
Just hours after Mr. Obama was elected, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that Russia would deploy missiles inside Europe. He made it clear that the positioning of the new Iskander short-range ballistic missile in Kaliningrad, next to the Polish border, was a direct challenge to America’s plans to build a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. He also said Russia would use electronic warfare to counter the U.S. shield. “Medvedev’s speech then elaborated on the Putin Doctrine: Russia will do what it wants, when it wants, where it wants in the territories that once belonged to the czars,” Ralph Peters wrote in the New York Post (Nov. 10, 2008). His threat was clearly intended to show the United States that Russia does not fear it.
The same day, Europe gave the new president-elect a to-do list. A six-page letter to Mr. Obama, agreed upon by the EU’s foreign ministers, suggested four priorities for the new American administration. The letter called on the future Obama administration to improve its efforts in Afghanistan; acknowledge Russia’s newfound power, and intensify diplomatic efforts alongside Europe in order to avoid a confrontation; prioritize the Middle East peace process and accept the EU as a co-guarantor of a peace agreement; and more deeply entrench itself in multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the G-8, committing to European-backed reforms of these bodies. Quite the list.
If you think it’s odd for foreign leaders to lay out an agenda like this, you’re right. But the new president-elect set himself up for it. He has spoken often of the virtues of multilateralism, and campaigned on a promise to improve America’s ties to and cooperation with nations abroad. In addition, he was clear about his desire for a more muscular Europe. It shouldn’t surprise, then, that Europe interpreted all this to mean that an Obama victory would provide it an opportunity to relieve the U.S. of some of its leadership in world affairs.
A similar message emerged from Asia. The notes of congratulations the president-elect received from Chinese leaders also contained what one analyst called “a subtle reminder that they expected Obama to acknowledge their contentious claim to the self-governing island of Taiwan” (RealClearPolitics, Nov. 10, 2008).
From the Middle East, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also quickly expressed his well wishes. In light of the president-elect’s campaign promise to meet the Iranian leader without preconditions, Ahmadinejad expressed a desire for the beginning of a new, more open relationship between the two countries—one predicated, of course, on the acknowledgment and acceptance of Iranian power.
The leader of the Palestinian extremist group Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, also joined in. “Yes, we are ready for dialogue with President Obama and with the new American administration with an open mind, on the basis that the American administration respects our rights and our options,” he said (Sky News, Nov. 8, 2008).
It is worth remembering that, before he was elected, Mr. Obama received notable if unwanted endorsements from North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and number-two Hezbollah leader Sheik Naim al-Kassim (who said a vote for Obama was a step toward “peace with Islam”).
The undeniable truth is, the large part of the world that wants to level the global playing field by knocking America down a peg appears to see an opportunity in an Obama presidency. And this man’s ideas on foreign policy provide those enemies plenty of cause to justify their enthusiasm.
At a political rally in October, Mr. Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, warned that some outside powers would see the induction of the new president as an opportunity to exploit America’s weaknesses. “Mark my words,” he said. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. … Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” he said, listing Russia and the Middle East among the likely provocateurs.
Signs are that these words will prove true—perhaps even sooner than Mr. Biden expects. You can be sure that nations around the world will continue to try to gain power at America’s expense.
What about back home? Can the new president live up to expectations there? Briefly consider one issue.
Seventy percent of Americans think Mr. Obama’s presidency is going to help race relations, according to Gallup. The majority, among all races, saw his victory as a milestone worth celebrating—a true victory for civil rights. He garnered more support from white voters than any Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter.
Still, some are convinced his victory would have been much larger if not for those whites who voted against him simply because of his skin pigmentation. The idea that Mr. Obama’s win represents the end of racism in America has also been loudly shouted down by some blacks. Their view is essentially, Why should whites get to decide that there’s no more racism?
While there were undoubtedly some whites who simply voted against black, this election also saw an opposite and more powerful trend: white people embracing Mr. Obama because of his race. His candidacy represented a promise to some whites that they could wash away the stigma of racism. Supporting him was a way to prove that they were not racist. Of course, such contradictory thinking isn’t exactly “post-racial,” as they would like to believe.
The fact that 95 percent of blacks supported Mr. Obama was unsurprising, considering that they typically vote almost 90 percent Democrat anyway. Still, it has been interesting to see the swell in black pride the election has created: T-shirts saying, “My president is black” and such. The Root, a sister online magazine of the Washington Post written by and directed mostly to blacks, warned its readers (with tongue in cheek) not to act too arrogant about the victory: “Don’t go up to every ‘redneck-y’ looking person and gloat. ‘It hurts don’t it? It burrrrnnss!’” For an election that supposedly wasn’t about race, it has been a huge topic.
Meanwhile, white supremacist groups are outraged by Obama’s election. The Anti-Defamation League tracked a post-election spike in activity on extremist online discussion forums. The main themes it saw included expressions of what a tragedy it is for the nation; predictions of a race war, as whites rise up en masse against the “injustice”; and calls to violence, or hope that the president will somehow be killed.
Even a few wackos who think like this could wreak havoc—particularly given the soaring hopes and increased black pride that the election engendered. Just one lone wolf could set off a racist explosion. Some of these fringers have said they want to increase racial tension in the U.S. by attacking Obama. As Fred Burton and Ben West of Stratfor pointed out, “Such violence would be viewed as positive in this thinking, as open combat between whites and blacks would bring their ideology to the forefront” (Nov. 6, 2008).
Who knows exactly how this will play out, but as much as we would like to side with that 70 percent of Americans who are optimistic regarding the future of race relations, plenty of signs suggest their hopes are unwarranted.
Trusting in Man
The Prophet Jeremiah once wrote, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.” Yes, cursed. So says God.
Many people are looking to the new president-elect as a kind of messiah. Their credulity shows just how great the need for a true messiah is! People do recognize many of the pressing problems and crushing concerns of our age. They can see that the present government does not have the answers.
But what they do not yet see—as became plain in this election—is that by seeking those answers simply in another politician, they are misplacing their hope.
This nation has yet to realize that there is no hope in man.
Soon it will be this new government grappling with international security concerns that exceed the military’s capabilities, being mistreated by foreign governments, trying desperately to keep the economy from tanking, sinking deeper into debt and so on. It will be this government letting the people down.
There is a book you really ought to read. It’s called The United States and Britain in Prophecy, and it was written by the late Herbert W. Armstrong. We’ll send you a copy for free. It explains the spectacular history of these two nations in a stirring way, showing their earliest roots and explaining the true cause of their meteoric rise to global prominence. It also shows, with detailed biblical proof, exactly why the problems besieging these countries are increasingly overtaking the blessings. And it gives a frank picture, as spelled out in biblical prophecy, of how we can expect these curses to intensify in the time just ahead.
As strong as people’s hope is that this election was a turning point toward a safer, more prosperous future for America, you need to know the sure reality that God has foretold and the curses that are prophesied to unfold before us.
But that isn’t the end of the story. For those curses—trying though they will be—will finally teach us the lesson we are so slow to learn: that God alone can be trusted, and it is in God alone that we should hope.
He supplies that hope if we look to Him! Oh, how we need that hope in our sick and suffering world. It exists, and it is a sure hope! It is the hope of Christ’s return—when He will bring to this Earth the justice, unity, prosperity and peace we all long for.
You can read about it in Gerald Flurry’s booklet The Epistles of Peter—A Living Hope (request your free copy). Set your heart on and believe in the sure promise of this truly strong, noble and righteous leadership that will guide us to greatness! It will, truly, make your spirit soar.