I've been fairly vocal of my support for Barack Obama. It's not that I was necessarily thrilled with his policy proposals, or even enamored by the empty rhetoric that simply "change" represented, but instead I weighed the two candidates for the Presidency and went with the one that I thought offered the best chance for positive change and necessary action to drudge this country out of the stagnant quagmire in which it has fallen. I firmly believe that the last eight years have been a disaster, or more pointedly the final stages of the disaster-they have been the medical examiner finally removing the bodies from the scene of a horrific traffic accident. Never has the label 'lame duck' been more adequate than over the past year of the Bush administration, a year which has seen panic and inaction (or worse, mis-action) as the President realized that the American public had no faith in him, did not support him, and ultimately wanted to finally forget that he was even President. Short of the estimated 10 million lives he saved in Africa (kudos to Gavi for the link), I'm really not sure in a historical sense that there are any contributions George W. Bush made to this country that will differentiate him from the Herbert Hoovers of the American Presidency. But history will be the judge, and generally it is a very fair one-and I am happy to leave it at that.
That said, one thing that is clear, is that his term has finally ended. It's been a tumultuous eight years from the beginning, what with the 'Hail To The Thief' quasi-scandal that marked its beginning and bookended by an economic collapse not seen in decades, with a large terrorist attack, a couple wars, and all manner of political cause in between. It really has been a wild eight years, and while I'm not terribly fond of the idea of the current Democratic Party taking power, that has become the only solution. I'm nervous at the idea of a party that disrespects property and personal rights (see: smoking bans), favors nationalizing healthcare (is there a problem? sure, but is nationalization the solution?), restricting gun rights (and i dont even own one), expanding government and nationalizing industry (I know Bush started it, but its not a place I want to be) and mandating public service (a noble idea, but unconstitutional) having carte blanche to run ths United States of America. That said, I threw my support behind the party believing-however naively-that Barack Obama would deliver on his message of a united America, of a bi-partisan approach, on a practical approach that poached what needed to be and worked sensibly, and one that would finally make the decision on what the fuck this country is going to do in a few years when people my parents' age start retiring and wanting SS and Medicare money that just isn't there, to say nothing of flaunting the abuse of civil liberties that has been ongoing.
That said, I find myself cautiously-very cautiously-that President Obama might just actually mean what he says. If Star Wars has taught us anything, it's that power corrupts and if the history of American politics has taught us anything, its that politicians lie, cheat, and steal whilst looking out for number one. The odds are overwhelming that four years from now, we will see the same inaction, lies, and corruption that have been the trademark of the American Presidency since Dwight D. Eisenhower. That said, theres just something about the man....about his apparent honesty, his foresight, and his oratory skills that screams to me that he is the man that this country has been waiting for. Will we be duped again? We shall see, and we shall see in short order....President Obama has a lot on his plate, and the will of the American people is fickle and the patience of politicians seeking re-election even shorter. If strides aren't taken in one year-and yes I know that seems like an insanely short window, but a year from now house representatives will be looking at re-election-then this could end up a failure. Is it shitty? You betcha, but it's the reality.
And it was with that reality, that I decided to go down to Victory Park earlier today, arranging my day to be in Downtown Dallas during the speech and taking an early lunch, to watch the Obama speech. Considering it has become Dallas' defacto version of Times Square I figured there would be people down there, and upon arriving wasn't disappointed as an estimated 800 people were in the plaza to watch Obama take the oath and then give his speech. Huge turnout? No, but this is Dallas, I will take what I can-and am happy to say that the mood was electric down there. Enthusiastic, loud, and happy would be my adjectives with a fair number of Obama signs/shirts and no shortage of applause, as South Dallas came North and East Dallas came West (North Dallas meanwhile is still afraid of black people, and West Dallas is all warehouses) in a very cool experience as we all shared our common heritage as Americans, and shared our hopes that this country has finally taken a turn for the better. And so, at the end of the night and having heard Obama's speech a good three times now in full, I find myself very cautiously optimistic as the Bush administration has finally ended and now we get to, you know, fixing the damage it's left in it's wake.