In talking to various people yesterday, I was surprised at how many hadn’t watched the inauguration on Monday. After all it was a holiday – maybe not on the same level as Christmas – without any football games to compete with it. Michele and I started watching it – DVR delayed – at eight in the morning and, after taking the middle of the day off, were watching, or re-watching, parts of it at ten that night. To me, it was a great reality show about America; the best, the worst, the meh. It was a reality show about the transfer of power.
Before he gave the benediction at the Congressional lunch for the president, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church, looking at Chuck Schumer – the head of the organizing committee and MC for the day who was clearly having a great time – said Thank you, this is the greatest honor of my life. I can understand that, it seems to me that it would be the greatest honor in almost anybody’s life. He was the first Greek Orthodox anything to give such a benediction and it underline the theme for the day; inclusion. Inclusion in the American Dream, in the American tapestry. Acceptance and Acknowledgement in being an American.
In this case Acceptance included a second term African-American President. As an aside; I am one of those people who thinks winning a second term is even more important than winning the first. As Ta-Nehisi Coates said on Colbert the other night, using a football analogy, Winning once was like a Cinderella Team, winning the second time was defending the Championship. During his first term, Obama did some things very well and others not so good. He didn’t solve all our problems – I don’t think anybody could, they are just too big and too pervasive – but he diligently kept working at trying to solve them. I think he won re-election because the American people looked at him and saw an hardworking guy taking on huge problems as well as anybody could be expected to do.
Inaugurations are about the transfer of power. Something that was as rare as an unicorn until George Washington walked away from power after his second term. We are no longer the world’s only Democracy and, in some ways, we are not the most democratic, but we transfer power as well, if not better, than anybody. And, in a bigger and far more important way, we are the world’s leader in the transfer of power. The white, male, landowning, elite has transferred power to the rest of us. That is amazing. Just as George Washington was the first winning General to walk away from being a Dictator, I think that the American power elite was the first – and maybe the only, even today – power elite to transfer power.
Watching the Tuskegee Airman being honored by President Obama, in the Presidential Viewing Stand in front of the White House, brought tears to my eyes. But, the bigger, more important, image was the Tuskegee Airman’s escort, a black, female, Army Major. A black female who, during her career so far – and she looks pretty young so she is probably on a fast track – has commanded white troops. They might not have all liked it, but when she said Jump, they all jumped. That is astounding!
The parade that the President watched contained his Power Base. The new Americans: Mexican Americans, Chinese Americans, African Americans. Without these Americans, Barack Hussein Obama would not be President. Without the Gay Vote and their Money, Obama would not be President. Without Women, Obama would not be President.
As an aside, it goes both ways;, Tom Ricks over at The Best Defense, posted, I think I didn’t appreciate how important Obama’s inauguration speech on Monday was to gay Americans. This thought dawned on me as I was walking my dogs on Monday night and passed a local gay bar. The entire second floor of the building was covered by a huge American flag. I found that moving. I find it moving, too. End aside.
I know that there are members of the White Elite Class that don’t like this transfer of power, that resent it and are afraid of the future, I know that there are some who want to take up guns and stop it. I know that there are those who want to go back to the Old Ways, but that will not happen.
The marchers in the street have felt their power, the power of being part of the American Tapestry, and I doubt they will be willing to go back. I hope and I expect the interlaced threads will only get more inclusive. Stronger. This Inauguration made me very happy.