Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I was torn tonight between the title "Hope and Change" and the one I went with. But since I prefer song lyrics in my titles and January is sadly lacking in that regard, ultimately the choice was not hard.

I got to watch a vast majority of the inauguration today. At work this morning, we had several computers all streaming video from the various networks set up in various office clusters, none of it planned beforehand. But nearly everyone watched at least some of it. When CNN would seize up, it was usually just as MSNBC was coming back online. I've never seen excitement like this for a new president. But then I was in 3rd grade when Reagan took office, so what do I know. I asked an 85 year old woman at our inauguration party tonight if this was out of the norm and she said she'd never seen nor heard of anything like it either. Millions of people invading each others' personal space and nearly all of them happier than not. Amazing.

Given that it's always easier to rally people around negative thoughts than positive ones (I'm not sure why this is), I find it extra amazing that Obama managed to take the "we can't stand another minute of Bush/Cheney" energy and deflect it into a positive force that people continue to rally behind. Do you know how hard that is to sustain? Even in book clubs, if everyone loved the book and it was the best book ever, you spend 3 minutes saying, "oh I loved it! Pass the wine". But if you hated it you could go on for 3 hours and find a willing audience. It would have been so easy for Obama to run on the "at least I'm not that guy" campaign. And while that was part of his appeal, it was by no mean the focus of it. I'm more impressed by this every day.

I'm a little annoyed at the people saying I've drunk the kool-aid for having hope in a politician who, while yes, must have a larger than normal degree of arrogance and ambition to become president at all, but who seems to be a genuinely nice person who is extremely competent, listens to other competent people, forms judgments based on facts, works hard to be inclusive, and works extra hard to remain positive and hopeful. For someone who supported the last administration's every sound byte, I find the kool-aid assessment to be head-exploding irony. I have hope, it's true. I'm not expecting miracles; there will be no walking on water. But to come out and say "lets put aside childish things" was one of the best things I've heard in years. It's just how I've felt. Now lets hope he can get people to do that more often than not.

I sometimes wonder how much Shepard Fairey's iconic Obama image helped. [EDITED to add: This image and Will.I.Am's "Yes We Can" mashup were probably the top two things he couldn't have won without. They're both high viewership grassroots things that were because Obama inspired the art, and the art gave people something concrete to mentally grab hold of, and anchor thoughts and actions to.] Myself, I can't look at the poster without my heart clenching and my eyes tearing. I realize it's a little extreme. I'm not sure if I'm more moved by the art or the ideas of the man. I've decided it doesn't matter. I have hope for the future of our country again. [Edited to add: The hope and the tearing up are not just because of Obama, but because our country rallied and actually voted for him and hope both.]

Red White Blue and Sepia iconic Obama Hope poster

And while I'm on images, can I just say Aretha's hat was fantastic? Not everyone could pull that off. The entire time she was on stage the only feeling was the relief of having a president who is both clearly in charge, and who I can r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

1 comment:

Beki said...

I feel very hopeful for change as well. I also love Shepard Fairey's iconic image of Obama and bought the poster.