Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Final Ending of the Era of Low Expectations


Eight years ago, I, along with about 20,000 other people traveled to Washington, DC to protest the inauguration of George W. Bush as President of the United States.

If I felt Bush to be incompetent and ill equipped for the job, I was horrified with the manner in which he ascended to the Presidency.

Although losing the American vote by more than a half a million, somehow, Bush was able to fanagle and win, through legal manipulations, the Presidency.

It was to me, a somber day in American history and politics. A day that ushered in an era of low expectations and ominous visions.

That era finally ended yesterday with the inauguration of Barack Obama to the Presidency.

I did not go to Washington, DC yesterday for either protest or celebration.

I did not, in fact, support or vote for Barack Obama for President. (I was a Hillary Clinton supporter.)

But, unlike 8 years ago and since, I, for the first time, began to feel a sense of hope and guarded optimism that yes, maybe finally there was change in the air and maybe that change was, in fact going to be good for the country.

I am not now, nor have I ever been a believer and seeker of "superheros," idols or miracle workers.

When I vote, I merely try to select the person I most feel can do a competent, basic and honest job in what they have been hired or elected to do.

During the primaries and election process, I had too many questions and doubts about Barack Obama, based mostly on his lack of history ("resume") and some questionable past associations. The media, (which I felt mostly to be "in love with" Obama) failed, in my view, to ask the important (character) questions.

We knew what the failings of McCain and Clinton were. What were the weaknesses or potential "cracks in the armor" for Obama?

But, despite my hard core, practical concerns and questions, I could not help being impressed by this new candidate who seemed to come out of nowhere.

Obama said all the right things and never seemed to falter throughout the long, grueling campaign.

Was this truly a great emerging leader? Or, just a magnificent and skillful con artist and talker?

I didn't know -- and therefore, did not vote for Obama.

I chose instead to go for the "safe, simple and known, but not great" candidate (McCain) than the exciting, brilliant, potentially great, but lesser known, Barack Obama. I voted my head, rather than my heart.

But, yesterday, while catching some of the inaugural activities and part of Obama's speech, I found myself, for the first time, yielding to the emotions of the time and the stirring of something I hadn't felt for many years: hope.

The era of "low expectations and ominous visions" seemed to end with George W. Bush finally stepping on the plane back to Texas.

It was suddenly replaced by a daring to hope and a guarded optimism of better days to come.

Was I wrong to vote as I did in the last primaries and election?

I hope so. And if I was, I will be the first to admit it.

It is perhaps ironic that I grew up and live in New York City.

I might as well be from Missouri -- the "Show Me" state.

What was finally shown yesterday (and personally experienced) is that yes, the times have finally changed and we can now dare to create expectation. -- PCA


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