Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day 2009

Is it sour grapes? Am I a sore loser? Do I really have a problem only with Mr. Obama’s policies, or can I honestly disagree with his ideology? Surely I am not dismissing him before he even gets started exclusively because of his political party affiliation, and heaven have mercy if I truly am writing Mr. Obama off only because of the color of his skin! Do I wish him ill in the hopes that Americans will wake up and recognize that Democrats are bad altogether and very expensive to maintain?

These are questions I have been forced to honestly assess for myself on this Inauguration Day 2009 when Barack H. Obama will be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president. I wish I could be as excited as so many seem to be, but I also cannot grasp that so many Obama supporters are as much supporting him as they are grateful that Mr. Bush’s administration has ended. This is what I get from a friend who refuses to let go of the Supreme Court’s involvement in the 2000 election when Florida apparently could not count or could not distinguish a “hanging chad” and determine if the vote that chad represented was legitimate or not.

I am as ambivalent as I have ever been about a new president coming into office. I was excited when Mr. Reagan was elected and then re-elected. I was pleased when George H.W. Bush was inaugurated, and I was sorely disappointed when President Clinton came into the office. I was gratified when George W. Bush was ELECTED (not appointed, you people who cannot seem to let that one go!), but his successor was not so distinguishable early on within the Republican ranks. John McCain was written off early on but came back to finally secure the Republican nomination, Republicans failing to remember the days of the elderly and somewhat crusty Bob Dole’s failed challenge to a younger and far more charismatic Bill Clinton. Needless to say, I was not a John McCain supporter.

Now I will support Mr. Obama not because I “must” as a last or only alternative but, rather, as an opportunity and a privilege. I take this position as a citizen grateful for the genius of this republic’s founders, whose shared vision and common experiences enlightened them to recognize the success of some and the failures of other, societies and governing bodies that embodied ideals or violated basic principles. I am privileged that I “get to” respect the wishes of the majority of Americans and embrace our new president as further evidence of the success of this which is commonly referred to as the “great experiment”.

This is also a unique time in American history only in that Mr. Obama is the first African-American to be sworn in as the US president, but it is also a time of intense economic challenge, not so unique; we’ve been here before. Such as it is, Mr. Obama has referred often to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt who took office while the nation was in the grip of the Great Depression. In his first inaugural address, Mr. Roosevelt said, in part, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

If ever there was a time in US history when we need to put aside our political differences and personal prejudices, it is now. We can no longer afford to pretend, for instance, that unregulated markets will police and correct themselves, witnessing as we have the painful reality that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We have seen too many among the rich and powerful clamor for more at the expense of the many who entrusted to these the fruit of their life’s work. We have witnessed a government intent on creating such a housing market and opportunity for ownership open the door to intense greed and sense of entitlement to rich and poor alike.

We have seen, and are still seeing, hundreds of thousands being put in the unemployment lines and out of their homes because of many corporations protecting the profit margins, and we have seen thousands upon thousands of jobs shipped to overseas, and substantially less expensive labor markets manufacturing the products they ultimately intend to sell back to the very workers they put out of work.

Our economy is upside down, and our government for the past two years during a particularly brutal and grueling presidential campaign seemed intent only in fixing the blame rather than the problems. Now that a new president is sworn into office and after all the din of the parties and celebrations subside, may we get down to the business of our business. May we put aside our ideological differences and work in unison toward a common objective. May we offer prayers and support to our new president, and hold to the proverbial fire the feet of our elected representatives and senators to stay focused on the matters at hand.

And may we remind them all, as we remember ourselves, that if one is not part of the solution, one is surely part of the problem. Anyone can point a finger, but it takes a real leader to step up to and face the challenges ahead. May we be so blessed that we have truly elected a leader.

No comments: