What an exciting, historical day. At 4:13am, I awoke, and my first thought was about what a big day it is for America. Even though I did not vote for Barack Obama, I cannot help but feel the excitement of this time in history, and I find myself very enthusiastic about the celebration today.
They are saying that there hasn’t been this much excitement since President Reagan’s inauguration. And I regret that my kids were too young to appreciate what a unique, great man Reagan was. But I am glad they are all more than old enough to be impacted by this moment in history.
The TV in my studio will be on all day, I know, because I don’t want to miss a thing.
What is astounding to me is that in my relatively short lifetime — which has been about 20% the length of the age of our own nation — I have been alive and walking on the planet in a time that saw back-of-the-bus treatment for Blacks, lynchings, “Whites Only” drinking fountains, Dr. Martin Luther King’s marches and speeches, hearing him described as a rabblerouser, his assassination, Rosa Parks, the Watts Riots, Rodney King, OJ’s slow ride, and so much more… to a black man being elected President of the United States.
I always knew that someday we’d have a black president, but for lack of any black candidates that I would want as my president based on their merits — and believe me, I wanted to vote for a black man, if for no other reason than to prove to something to myself — I just never really thought I’d see this in my lifetime. I guess I just thought I would see an endless parade of also-rans every four years for the rest of my life, and someday I would pat my grandkids on the head and tell them, Yes, someday, little ones, there will be a black president. We’re getting closer… would’ve loved to see it.
Today is like a wedding party (except that the honeymoon messes with the metaphor). It’s a huge day that signals a new beginning — and the party should be huge, the champagne should flow, the smiles should be broad. But then real life sets in. We get busy. We have a bride and a groom, yes, but the bride is in traction, she’s lost a lot of blood, her pulse is strong today, but her vitals signs are in question. Not a great start for a new marriage, though not an impossible situation.
* * *
I keep hearing about what a remarkably smooth transition the transfer of power has been at the White House. But I have not heard one commentator say what I believe in my heart, that the reason for this is, in large part, due to the class and dignity of the man who is still president at this moment as I write, George W. Bush. Say whatever you like about the man, but there is nothing surprising to me at all that he would demand the highest standards of cooperation from all involved in handing over The Power and White House. I would imagine that he led by example alone. He’s shown nothing but the most extraordinary humility and dignity from before the election, right through this day.
I contrast that to 2001, when the new staff entered the White House to find, amidst the estimated $20,000 in vandalism connected to the former administration’s staff, childish acts such as removing all the W keys from the computer keyboards that were left behind, and the re-routing of over 100 incoming phone lines to the White House, just to cause confusion. Moments like these — including this current transition — have helped me see the difference between ideologies and the people behind them.
I generalize, of course, but therein lies the beauty of generalizations.
I voted for someone else in the Election, and still someone different in the Primaries, and the outcome drew the same response in my soul: my disappointment will not cloud my respect for the office or for the dignity of the person holding that office.
Barack Obama, just like anyone that has come before him, is just a man. His blood is red like mine, and he breathes the same air. But he has a job that demands my respect, unbiased scrutiny, understanding, and even forgiveness for inevitable mistakes to come, and a heart, soul and mind that deserve my prayers for Wisdom.
I would hope that every American feels this way today.
I have a Dream.
Update: Second Term
I could not disagree with the policies of an Administration more than I do with this one. —dd, March 11, 2013