Editor’s Notebook: Working on a dream

I only dimly remember the cold, rainy day in April 1968, when I clutched my father's hand as we marched slowly in a somber throng of people through the streets of north Minneapolis. At the time, as a 6-year-old boy, I had little understanding of what we were doing -- banding together as a family with our fellow citizens in a sense of shared grief over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

I didn't understand much better a year later when my parents came home with an African-American baby and announced she was my new adopted sister. (I was just overwhelmed by how cute she was.)

It took me years to realize what was going on. My parents -- a middle-class white couple from the Midwest --were doing their part to keep Dr. King's dream alive. That dream, in large measure, was realized Tuesday, when Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States.

In his inaugural address, Obama noted the historic nature of the occasion: "This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

But Obama also noted that this is a key moment in the history of the federal government. "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small," he said, "but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

Those words echoed what Obama said a little more than a week before the inauguration, in a speech unveiling his massive economic stimulus plan: "It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment . . . only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy."

This is Obama's moment, and a signal moment in the nation's history. But even if only because there is nowhere else to turn, this also is government's moment.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.