I am still processing all of my thoughts and emotions from yesterday's magnificent historical event. I feel like the horror of the past eight years was almost washed away as our new President was sworn into office. My husband and I with our two children watched the news from the time we awoke to pretty much the time we went to bed last night. We just kept wanting more, disbelieving, crying tears of joy, laughing for no reason other than feeling exuberantly giddy.
My son who will be turning 7 in a couple of months had a lot of questions. I tried my best to answer them without going too much over his head. He asked me how Obama became president again (through the election and popular vote). He then asked me how did President Bush become president if so many people didn't like him. This got me talking about how the 2000 election played out. How we all sat there in our friends’ living room at an election night party with our jaws agape as the State of Florida plunged into chaos on that fateful night. I then mentioned how the Bush campaign stopped the counting of votes as Gore was leading ever so slightly in the recount; how the Supreme Court ultimately decided in Bush's favor even though he lost the popular vote, he still won the presidency.
I think it is important that we teach future generations how one can manipulate an election, and how disastrous the consequences can be. I cried for a week after the 2004 election, particularly when Bush stood before the nation, the very next day proclaiming that he had earned "political capital and the he intended to spend it." Such dark days those were...
This all brings me to the picture above taken of the outside of my house where I have flown the American flag with pride every day even when I was disappointed by the tone, policies, unnecessary wars waged by those who cloaked themselves in it.
I love my country. There is no place on this earth in the history of the world that has afforded the multitudes to live out their lives as they see fit with "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness*" as stated in our country's first mission statement.
So as I drove to the supermarket yesterday in the late afternoon, I explained to my son how even though I truly did not like President Bush, how misguided I though he was, he was still our president until yesterday. Even though I disagreed with 96% of his policies, laws, signing statements, abuse of power, corruption and overall incompetence. I still loved our country, We still always hung our flag prominently on our home. I have been so profoundly disappointed that we have tortured some, detained other’s indefinitely without formally charging them, etc with our flag waving overhead. I have asked myself more than once did anyone in the Bush Administration ever read Kafka? (This one is going to take me a long time to come to terms with). But even so, our country despite, it’s warts, sullied history, past transgressions, and character flaws is one that has the capacity to do very great things. Our country is resilient, capable of extraordinary achievements even in our darkest hour, perhaps partly because we are for the most part optimistic about the future, are hopeful for a better day, and are undaunted by hard jobs and difficult tasks.
My love for my country has not wavered even when there were individuals who questioned my Patriotism because of my political leanings and questioning our governments policies during the past eight years. If anything, it made me more resolved to work towards a better day when perhaps those who were clouded by obfuscation of the issues and the political spin that I was ultimately going to be on the right side of history.
I think there are a great many lessons for us to teach to our children about the fragility of democracy itself, and to pay greater attention to what our leaders are doing exactly and hold them to account. (This means you Bush Administration, I do hope that you are not off hook yet, not by any means.) We need to not lose sight again of those who hold the keys to power particularly in this day and age of distraction, consumption, and the frantic pace by which so many of us live our lives. We need to be very careful as to not fall asleep at the wheel again; the consequences as we have seen tend to be dreadful.
But for now it feels great to celebrate this moment to have a former Constitutional law professor who grasps nuance, respects history, and has a keen eye set on the horizon to steer us out of this mess. I wish him well and may God bless this beautiful, beloved, messy, imperfect country of ours.
* Declaration of Independence, 1776