By Senator Bernie Sanders
President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office at a pivotal moment in American history.
After eight years of the Bush administration, our middle class is in decline, poverty is increasing, the national debt is at an all time high, and millions of Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care, their ability to go to college, and their savings.
In fact, as a nation, we face the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. While American prestige is at an all-time low within the international community, our over-stretched military is fighting two wars simultaneously while al Qaeda and the terrorist organizations are on the rise.
From an environmental perspective, global warming is a growing threat to the planet and we have barely begun to make the energy revolution we need, away from fossil fuels and toward energy independence, renewable energy, and a more sustainable economy. That's the bad news.
The good news is that, in Barack Obama, the American people have elected a new president who is not only extremely intelligent, but has, I believe, extraordinary leadership qualities and a real sense of history.
He understands where we are today and has a vision of where we have to go in the future. He is also very personable and a great communicator.
Perhaps most importantly, he has not forgotten how he won the election. He understands that to be a successful president he must continue to rally grassroots America to help him stand up to the powerful special interests that have had so much influence in Washington for so many years.
These are extremely difficult times for the American people and I am optimistic that with a new president and an involved population, we can, in fact, turn the country around and move us in a direction of which we are all proud.