20 January 2009

Inauguration

Despite having been deeply interested in the election, I find myself strangely detached from the Inauguration. I think a lot of it is that circumstances have conspired to ensure that I won't actually be able to watch it. The picture above, of my current location, is not a holiday snap. I'm in Palm Springs for business, and while tomorrow's schedule of events ends mid-day, that will already be too late, Pacific time. I will be eating breakfast when history is made.

For the most part, I'm all right with that. I don't need the ceremony. I need--this country needs--what comes after. I don't expect miracles. I just expect adequacy, after eight years of supremely inadequate leadership, supremely deficient decisions.

I also find that I'm seeing this inauguration in a different light from many others. I was very excited, very proud of America on Election Day, and really, I still am. As I said at the time, we did a different thing, a new thing, electing a man of Barack Obama's racial background to our highest office.

And yet, as he takes office, I find myself reserved, held back from jubilation. I'm not sad at all, or angry, or any negative thing. Just...reserved. Because I keep asking myself this one quesiton:

Won't it be a truly fantastic day when there is absolutely nothing remarkable about electing someone with that sort of background to high office?

It's a paradox, I know, but I'm caught in it. I cannot be jubilant today, because I find it somehow only an incomplete victory that Obama's election is so very remarkable as to draw historic, record-making crowds to Washington to see it and commemorate it.

The day I will be most jubilant is the day everyone looks at the inauguration of an African-American, or Hispanic, or perhaps a Chinese-American; or Jewish, or Buddhist, or, dare I even whisper the possibility, Muslim president...and yawns because hey, it's just another inauguration, right?

Anyway, for those with the lesiure, please do enjoy the inauguration tomorrow. Appreciate not just the immediate historicness of having an African-American becoming the Leader of the Free World, but the long-term historicalness of the 44th successful, peaceful, democratically-based transfer of that office.

1 comment:

Chris said...

This Inauguration is definitely just a step on the road to the time you describe. It does mark, for the generations before ours, the completion of one stage of the journey. It will be for out generation, and probably a couple that come after us, to make it an unremarkable sort of thing.

In the meantime, just take a moment to marvel at the fact that we continue to have peaceful transfers of power between opposing parties on a regular basis, even after debacles like Bush v. Gore.