• The cover in question

When Barack Obama was elected to his first term four years ago, the Reader put out an issue with a cover that made some people upset: a drawing of Obama was featured with a banner that read, “Don’t screw this up.” After all, the enthusiasm surrounding Obama’s election was so great that all people hoped was that the president-elect would follow through on all the promises—and act in accordance with the sparkling rhetoric—he spouted on the campaign trail. After four years, an apt banner for the next four years might be, “Let’s try and do better than last time.”

Not to say that Obama did a terrible job (health care!), but Guantanamo is still open, financial regulation is probably not what it could be, and there are these things called Predator drone missile strikes. I’d guess that the hope among Obama’s supporters is that the “change” we heard so much about during the first campaign is more apparent the second time around—but hey, that’s why I preface that statement by saying “I’d guess.” If there’s anything I learned during this election, it’s that everyone feels differently.

That’s why, for this week’s Variations on a Theme, Reader staff will be writing about what they imagine the next four years under Obama will look like. Whether it’s new Supreme Court justices, new taxes, or just anything new that’s not more of the same, everyone has a different wish in mind for what’s on the horizon in the next almost-half decade. And in case you missed last week’s Variations on a Theme, Dread Week, check out what people were thinking just before and just after a decision was made.