The swearing-in of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States is just around the corner. It’s an exciting time to be living in Washington, DC – even if we don’t dare leave our house to brave the swarm of people descending on the nation’s capital to watch the inauguration.
Even our not-quite-two-year-old daughter is catching Obama-fever. We haven’t gone out of our way to teach her anything about Obama, but she still has absorbed quite a bit (it helps that the city is absolutely SATURATED with Obama-related stuff). She now points to pictures of Obama and yells, “Oooooobama!!“
The expectations for Obama seem almost impossible to achieve at this point. In part, those expectations have been imposed on him by others. However, he has intentionally and carefully constructed an aura of historical greatness around himself (the whistlestop tour; the constant allusions to Abraham Lincoln; the one-liners like “we are the ones we have been waiting for”…) so no doubt at least part of the extreme expectations have been self-generated.
Barack Obama speaks a lot about change in tenor, about entering a “post-partisan” phase of American politics. He has even said that we need a new “declaration of independence” – independence from past bigotry and divisiveness. Assuming his desire for national unity is sincere, Obama does seem a bit Lincoln-esque, although the unity he seeks is far different from the unity Lincoln was trying to preserve. In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln expressed what he was willing to do – to sacrifice – for the sake of preserving a united nation:
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
Lincoln was willing to sacrifice a great deal in order to preserve something he knew to be important.Thus far, Barack Obama hasn’t had to lay anything on the line – to really make any sacrifice – in order to achieve the unity and change he seems to desire. Certainly, factions on both sides of the political spectrum are willing to make political war to maintain the status quo. I watch earnestly to see what sacrifices Obama will make in order to create a new post-partisan America.
Best wishes, President Obama. Though I disagree with many aspects of your stated policy goals, I join the rest of America to hope (yes, hope!) and pray that you can rise to the challenge. In the words of my daughter, “Ooooooobama!”
UPDATE: A COMMENT ON COMMENTS – Prior to commenting, please refer to T&S’ comment policy and the associated posts by Jim Faulconer. In particular, comments that are, or could be perceived as, racist have absolutely no place here. I expect the tone of the comments to reflect the positive tone established today by President Obama.