At long fucking last, we’ve come to the final day – erm- final HOURS of the Bush Presidency.
The morning of January 20, 2001 has been seared in my mind for eight long years. It was cold and snowy here in Chicago. I sat in my room quietly as I watched GWB take the oath of office. There was something painfully unfair about the whole event. I was fifteen at the time – old enough to have a political conscience, so the Bush v. Gore election from the previous November hurt – yet I really was not mentally capable of handling the repercussions of that ugly and incredibly costly election.
One day short of eight years later, I can look back and safely say we are not at all better off than we were before George Walker Bush took office. The Twin Towers no longer punctuate the New York City skyline. Thousands of our troops are dead in two very costly (and completely unnecessary) wars. So many scandals and controversies. No progress. Had there not been strict restrictions on stem cell research, by this point, we could have been leaps and bounds ahead in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s research among others. Nah. It’s against Dubbya’s religious beliefs. Ugh.
I could go on and on. Not necessary at this point.
Tomorrow is such a big day for our country. It’s the 1UP in this Super Mario game we call life. This is the do over. At 11 AM CST, and Barack Hussein Obama takes office as the 44th President of the United States.
That still blows my mind every time I think about it. Like many other Americans, I feel like I have a personal relationship with the guy. It’s like watching your kid go off on the school bus on the first day of school. I haven’t forgotten his cheaply produced Senate ads from 2004. I remember thinking: “Who the fuck is this guy?”. Then he became Senator. Then my mother and I watched him declare his candidacy for President on that cold day in February 2007 in our kitchen. Then he became the frontrunner. Then the candidate.
Then that perfect, inspiring, life-altering moment in Grant Park that mild evening in November.
Now we’re here. One night before the weight of the world is placed firmly upon his shoulders. I can’t deny that I’m rooting for him every step of the way. I think it’s that important. If it’s anyone that can direct us out of the trouble we’re in, it’s this dude.
Barack Obama is no messiah. He may not even get half of the things done he’s promising to get done. The challenges he’s facing are immense, and quite possibly, are beginning to rival those of FDR’s first days in office during the Great Depression That’s definitely something to consider. Regardless, Barack Obama, motivates people to be better. To try a little harder. That’s what matters. We can’t do the big things without the push to get us going. He’s providing the nudge.
This transfer of power represents a change of course. A total 180 from any other American Presidency we’ve ever seen. I’m hoping to see some openness in government again. We need a modern presidency. One that keeps the nation involved in the changes and allows us a voice that we can hope will listen.
I look to tomorrow and the days that follow with excitement, cautious optimism, and even some idealism. Regardless of your politics, I think that’s something everyone can invest a little in. Your future depends on it.
With examples of the past eight years and this seismic change in leadership, I hope that this country can again be a place to be proud of – instead of angry with.