Tuesday, January 20, 2009

HOPE, Day 1

It's hard to put into words how I feel today, after watching perhaps the most remarkable inauguration this country has ever seen. The sense of hope and promise and optimism is so overwhelming it's almost corny to say it out loud.

I feel like there was a shift today - actually back on election day and even before that. A shift away from the kind of politics that for years has been labeling people red or blue, or pinko leftist commie wackjob, or right wing bible thumping gun loving nutcase. There was sense during the campaigns and election that this one had to be about more than that. I think that's part of the reason the other side lost so hugely. People are tired of the message of division. There's so much going on that's bigger and scarier than whether I'm pro-choice or you're pro-gun and it's scary for all of us. We need to talk about why we can work hard every day and still not have health care. We need to talk about why my friends and I are already worried about where to send our kids to school because there's just nowhere for them go. We needed to elect someone who was going to talk about what was really happening to us every day. The old rhetoric of terrorism and nationalism and fear of the other guy just isn't relevant when you're trying to figure out how to save your home from foreclosure and your family from homelessness.

We were looking to elect a leader, not another politician and I believe that's what we got today. I believe that this President is less interested in making sure his team wins and more interested in making sure we all win. He emanates a sense of inclusiveness and an air of cutting through partisan crap to effect the change needed. I'm encouraged that his vision is about more than his own legacy or the legacy of his party and that he may just care more about what happens to all of us, not just to those of us who agree with him.

This is not to say that now all of our problems will be solved and the White House will live under a rainbow of magic and joy for the next four years and we'll all have a pot of gold and a puppy waiting for us when we get home today. Things are bad out here and you know what? Things have been bad out here for a while. It's going to take a long time to turn things around. It'll take longer than that to actually make strides in the right direction again. I don't for a moment expect that this President will be able to fix everything, even if he gets 8 years to try, but my spirits are lifted by the knowledge that he will do his best and that he'll do it for me and for my son.

I also am in awe of the fact that we saw our first African American president get sworn in today. Race was the last thing I cared about in this election and I would have voted for him no matter what color or religion or whatever because I believed in his message. The historical significance that it holds though, that barely 60 years after people who looked like him were getting beaten and thrown in jail for daring to want to vote this man is now the President, is too enormous to cast aside. Kids have no sense of history or that there have been other presidents other than the one they know. It stands out to me that my son's first image of who and what the president is will be a black man. I'm proud that my country voted to make that happen.

Change takes time and we're not going to see anything happen overnight, but I'm excited to see what it will be as it unfolds.

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