Maybe it is the restlessness of springtime, but it feels like Brown students are constantly being forced to wait for things. After hours in line waiting for Spring Weekend tickets, hundreds of students were turned away empty-handed. Their peers who already had tickets only needed to think back a couple weeks to the fiasco as the Brown Student Agencies Web site crashed during the ticket pre-sale. Just last week, first-years had to wait an extra day while locked out of Undergraduate Council of Students elections. The day before, juniors waited to pre-register while Banner crashed yet again.
This waiting would not be so bad if it didn't feel like it was becoming a standard part of life for our generation. While waiting for tickets for several hours won't kill us, waiting as Congress painfully took 15 months to pass health-care reform that still will not be fully implemented for four more years can. And at least health-care reform was ultimately passed, which is more than can be said about many of the Democratic majority's proposals.
We have been waiting a long time for major change. Brown students overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama's campaign and his message of "change we can believe in," yet most of Obama's campaign promises have not been fully met. His pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay within his first year was tossed aside. His promise to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is unfulfilled. Financial reform is struggling to get out of Senate committee over 18 months after Wall Street was bailed out by the taxpayers. And whatever happened to ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
The dysfunction in Washington has become the symbol of our generation. Rather than following the vision of bipartisanship which was endorsed by the American people back in November 2008, Congress has been the focal point of a bitter debate based solely on opposing the other party.
Republicans have become the party of no — or, as Sarah Palin likes to say, the party of "hell no" — even while opposing policies which were once considered to be Republican ideas. Exhibit A: The Democratic health care reform bill was strangely reminiscent of the program implemented by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has acted as fecklessly as ever, unable to keep its own members from jumping ship without resorting to bribing them with kickbacks to their home states. The question on Washington insiders' minds has become not whether the Democrats will lose seats this November, but how many they will lose. I can only hope that the Democrats find their spine and pass much needed financial reform, a policy that moves this country toward renewable energy and energy independence, and correct the injustices perpetrated in this country against gays and lesbians.
The long wait for major policy change is going to get a whole lot longer for Brown students unless there is a drastic shift in this country within the next few months. A recent Pew Research Center poll shows that the number of respondents favoring fewer government programs and opposing President Obama's policies has been increasing in recent months. If these trends continue, Brown students — like all Americans — will have to wait many more years until the next Democratic supermajority can waste its power bickering with recalcitrant Republicans.
It is time to stop waiting and start demanding action. With the summer almost upon us and the midterm elections this November, we must fight to ensure that we will not be left with the memory of empty promises. This means calling your representatives and demanding change, encouraging your family and friends to do likewise and even volunteering for a campaign.
I can recall the energy and spirit of hope that pervaded Brown's campus when Obama was elected. Yet, as we waited in the intervening months for any sign of significant change, it became easier just to be apathetic.
When you are too busy waiting for all the little things, like registering for classes, voting in campus elections or buying concert tickets, it becomes difficult to have the patience necessary to fight for all the big things. We have gotten very good at waiting for things here at Brown; now is the moment to get out of line and make a difference. It is not too late to salvage the change we used to believe in.
Ethan Tobias '12 is leaving the country for the fall semester and needs other people to take care of it while he's gone. He can be reached at Ethan_Tobias-at-brown.edu.