New York Times contributor and multi-Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman, while Kennedy continued to inspire after his eventual election, Obama has not.Barack Obama's rise to fame in the years leading up to the 2008 presidential election caused many to compare the young Illinois senator to John F. Kennedy. Like Kennedy, Obama mobilized an enormous following across age and racial boundaries with his charismatic and inspirational speeches about a hope for a brighter future. But according to
In an op-ed column from this weekend, Friedman calls on Obama to reignite the nation's innovative and entrepreneurial flames, and to make 2010 "the year of Start-Up America." Friedman says doing so would be Obama's "moon shot," a reference to President Kennedy's campaign to send American astronauts to the moon in the 1960s.
"What the country needs most now is not more government stimulus, but more stimulation," writes Friedman. "We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again."
Friedman points to two organizations Obama should be promoting to America's youth: National Lab Day and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). National Lab Day invites teachers to request local scientific professionals in their area to come in and work hands-on with students. NFTE provides teachers with resources for teaching entrepreneurship, and also hosts a nation-wide startup contest for students with a $10,000 grand prize.
As Friedman points out, Obama needs to make sure every student and teacher in America knows about these programs if his very own moon shot of inspiration is to take place. After all, when President Kennedy gave his speech declaring his goal to reach the moon, he didn't stand before congress and ask them to legislate. He stood before students at Rice University and urged them to innovate.
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy," said Kennedy in September of 1962. "But because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills."
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