#265 In which our hero writes his daughters a letter regarding the day things changed.
Dear Lily & Macey,
Earlier today I witnessed the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. Barack Obama has been president for almost 11 hours. Now, by “witnessed,” I mean I watched it on TV… there were more than two million people actually there in the streets of D.C., a crowded, cold environment that I had no desire to be part of. That said, it was amazing to watch. So many people wanted to be there because it was a big event. Perhaps, one of the biggest that I’ll ever witness.
You’re only five- and three-years-old, respectively, right now, so the importance of this event is wholly lost on you. And, God willing, it will always be lost on you. That is to say, when you’re old enough to care about such things, having a black president hopefully won’t be anything special.
But right now, it is special. Because America, the wonderful, exciting, forward-looking country that she is, is also pretty backwards in many ways. Like our puritan attitudes about sex, or our constant meddling with other cultures, to name two examples. Sadly, these are things that I don’t expect to have changed when you’re older.
But today… today we, as a country, seemed to turn a corner. We did something that many people thought to be unattainable: we elected a black man to the highest office in the nation. That’s a big deal. Because that means a lot of people voted for the guy; actually, more people voted for him that any other presidential candidate in history. Black and white alike. I voted for him, and so did your mother.
Now, his landslide win was certainly assisted by the horrific situation that the past president put the country into. George W. Bush will be judged, I believe, to be one of the worst presidents in history. Not in modern history, but in all American history. I could rant and rave about him, but I won’t. Not right now, at least. When you’re covering the modern history unit in school, I’ll give you girls an earful.
I find it difficult to articulate the… hopelessness… I’ve felt over the past eight years. It seemed not a day went by that I didn’t look at the people around me and feel like a stranger in my own country. I was in the minority, an outsider. I didn’t think like most other people in the country. Frankly, I just didn’t get it how people could vote for a man like Bush, and then do it again four years later.
But now, with Obama in office, I feel like I belong again. It’s a little self-serving, but I feel like all those dense people finally figured it out, finally pieced together how they needed to vote for something new, something different to get the country out of the mess its in now. And man, what a mess it is.
The economy is in the dumper. Homes are being foreclosed left and right. We’re still mired in pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Banks are failing. People are watching helplessly as their 401Ks spiral down the drain. It’s a bad time. A scary time.
And you girls, thank God, are oblivious to the whole thing.
I really wonder how your views of the presidency will be shaped by the Obama administration. If he serves for two terms (and at this instant it seems unthinkable that he wouldn’t win a second term) that means you girls will be 13 and 11 when he steps down. The only president you’ll ever have known in that time will have been a black guy. That’s amazing to me.
Now, I don’t expect Obama to save the world. I hope he can start moving this country back toward prosperity but, frankly, I’m not too hopeful of that, either. The country will recover… probably more slowly and painfully than anyone wants, but we’ll get there.
What I am hopeful is that America can once again regain her standing as a noble, respected world power.
The last eight years have sucked. Not every part of them, of course. I mean, both you girls were born, which is a wonderful, wonderful thing. However, at times things seemed so dark that I questioned the wisdom of bringing in a child (or two) into such a shitty world.
I want the world for you girls. I want you to achieve everything you set your hearts on. And now, as we near the end of the very first day of Barack Obama’s time as our 44th president, things feel different, better. I’m filled with something that I haven’t felt in far too long: hope.
Hope for the future of the country. Hope for the future of our family. Hope that you girls, you silly, rambunctious, sometimes frustrating girls, will have a future of happiness and prosperity.