Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The One Where I Talk Politics

I don't usually talk politics on this blog, and I'm not really going to talk politics today. After watching the inauguration this morning, though, I've been thinking about our new president and the effect he has had and will have on our country.

Here's the thing. I didn't vote for Obama. I live in Washington, so my political views make me something of an outsider. There are just a few issues on which I cannot compromise, and I cannot knowingly vote for a candidate whose policies will go against my beliefs. I am happy to report, however, that I maintain good relationships with friends and relatives whose viewpoints differ from mine.* And, since I live in Washington, I am used to my candidate of choice not getting elected.

That said, I am not depressed today. I watched the inauguration with interest (my husband taped it for me while I took our daughter to preschool). I think President Obama has already managed to lift the spirits of countless Americans who previously felt that our country would only get worse. There is something to be said for that. The big question is whether he will be able to follow through and validate those hopes.

There is also something great to be said for the joy felt today by those who fought so hard for equality. I would imagine that today represents the long-awaited fulfillment of a hope that saw them through years of great oppression and injustice. My heart filled when I saw the footage of the woman at the National Civil Rights Museum, tears streaming down her face as she watched the inauguration. Obama may not be my first choice for president, but I do believe that today is a great and significant day.

So I enter this new presidential era with my usual mix of hope, curiosity, and skepticism. It's how I think about most political beginnings, regardless of the politician. I'll be praying for President Obama and his administration, for wisdom, honesty, integrity, courage and humility. I'll teach my daughters to respect him, to speak respectfully of him.

My husband said it best when, a few hours after the inauguration, he looked up and said, "Hey, look, the world hasn't been destroyed." I don't think the new administration is going to bring our country into some golden age of happiness and prosperity for all; neither do I think it will usher us into doom and gloom. Life will go on.

*Several years ago, when I was still in the workforce, some coworkers and I started talking politics. As we exchanged viewpoints and it became known that I leaned to the right, one coworker went nuts. She called her sister right then and there, right in front of me, and said, "You're not going to believe this! You know Holly, my coworker? She's Republican! Yes, she is! I know! And I thought she was cool!" She was only half-joking. I don't claim a party affiliation in general, and I told her that, but I couldn't bring her out of her shock. It was pretty funny.

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