For me, today has been like Christmas, the Fourth of July and my birthday all rolled in to one.
I spent most of the morning at the Oakland Coliseum tearfully watching Barack Obama take the oath of office and become our 44th President. I suspect, like a great deal of people today, I’ve been caught up in Obama-mania. It’s not just the history of the moment, it’s getting rid of the worst contemporary President the United States has ever endured. For real. People are celebrating like they do in other countries when they kick out a dictator, end military coups, obtain freedom from an oppressive state, declare independence, or win the World Cup. The relief is palpable. So are the expectations.
President Obama’s intelligence and charisma awe and terrify me. I am awed to finally have a President who at least proposes reasoned dialogue to solve the many problems facing America this coming year. I am terrified because this same intelligence and charisma may lull many into a false sense of security – in Obama we trust.
For those of us on the progressive Left, we too will have, as President Obama put it this morning, new challenges and new instruments. Challenges not to fall silent and simply wait for what the new administration will bring, not to fall back on our own Achilles Heel of not meeting new allies where they’re at, and not to lose sight of our desire for equity when all around us the pent up frustration and anger at the past two decades is finally giving way to hope.