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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Inauguration Day Madman

January 20, 2009


It's Official!

Just last year, there was a black guy was running for President. Then, a few months ago, there was a Democratic nominee who happened to be African-American. Today we have put into office a new President, one whose promise include change and hope and the loss of a fear that has ruled our nation for eight years now.

And, by the way, he's Black.

What will tomorrow bring?

Color fades in the White House. Soon almost every American will be judging President Barack Obama, not as the first African-American President, but just as THE President of our United States. It's how it should be, and it is, again, OUR United States.

Certainly, a poor showing by President Obama will make it harder for the next African-American who runs for President to succeed in his or her bid, but that comes with the title of "First".

And that makes President Barack Obama, a thoughtful, analyzing man the perfect "First".

President Obama said there is no Red America; there is no Blue America; there is only The United States of America. Today that statement could be modified by his stating that there is no Black America or White America...just America because that's how it felt.

As I watched the noon hour come, I had the opportunity to be seated with White America and Black America; I had the opportunity to sit next to Southern Americans and Americans like me: born in Brooklyn and living in the suburbs of a great American City (New York). There were Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans and naturalized American citizens from all over the world. And to a person, we felt joy and anticipation and confidence and even relief.

Now that the balls and festivities are just about over, we all have just one thing to say to our new President Barack Obama:

"GET TO WORK!" We're all counting on you, and we're willing to help.

-Noah Greenberg

Making and Remembering History

Barack Obama's inauguration is a historic occasion with roots stretching back into the classical age, redolent of the Enlightenment, transformed by the crucible of Civil War, we should appreciate it and its historical significance and we should prepare ourselves for the tasks that lie ahead.

The British historian Cressey wrote 160 years ago that the Athenians' stand at Marathon saved the nascent idea of democracy from being overrun by Asian despotism.

Cressey observed that without democracy human history would only be the story of dynastic intrigues, war and commerce resulting from royal patents.

Democracy has endowed us with the ability to govern ourselves and liberty. In my view, liberty is our ability to put our highest and best lights and abilities to their best and highest use. Under a king, we would all be subject to royal prerogatives, escheat and command.

Throughout the millennia since the Greeks conceived the idea of democracy, it has served to provide a base of support for upper class domination of society. With few exceptions, the leaders of democracy have been chosen from the upper classes and represented their views and interests.

The US constitution was written to assure that the propertied and mercantile class would dominate society. With the notable exceptions of Franklin, Jackson and perhaps FDR, American political leaders have held fast to that.

But 148 years ago, the Nation was tested in the crucible of Civil War and Abraham Lincoln realized that we must change. In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln spoke of God's justice, and told the nation that the vast financial cost of the Civil War was God's retribution for the theft of slave labor. He told posterity that the rivers of blood set flowing by the war was God's retribution for our cruelty to generations of slaves: Lincoln said that every drop of blood extracted by the lash would be matched by blood drawn by the sword.

The great legislative heritage of the Civil War is the amendment of the Constitution to end slavery and grant the slaves the rights of citizenship. As a nation, under Lincoln's leadership, we dedicated ourselves to Jefferson's declaration that all men are created equal.

Barack Obama's inauguration as the President of the United States has brought Lincoln's vision to fruition. Everyone, of every race, has the right to hold any governmental office and the duty to vote.

It is very well that we dedicate this day to two things:

* the appreciation of the political accomplishment that led to Barack's inauguration and,

* re-dedication to breaking the most visible glass ceiling in American politics.

We should appreciate Barack's inauguration fully and joyfully.

But we cannot rest, fifty one percent of us have yet to brought into full participation in our political process.

-Robert Chapman

In response to the end of the Bush era (or is that "error"?) Bruno Cory writes:

Sing this to a military drum cadence:

“Bye bye, commander guy, good riddance, bye bye.”

In response to, "one wonders when the ball is going to drop and people are going to begin kidding in Times Square..." David W. notes:

I know you really meant "Kissing in Times Square."

And Madman responds:

Why, yes... yes I did.

In response to, "Later, in discussing Bush, Ifill said “to be fair” Bush had had a series of terrible problems to deal with, while Bill Clinton had presided over an economically prosperous and peaceful administration," Ginger in Dallas writes:

Like the 1993 bombing of the WTC? That wasn't exactly a peaceful introduction to being president. However, Clinton handled it much better than Bush has Osama bin Laden. Will there ever come a day when the Republicans won't try to blame Clinton for their self-induced failures?

And Madman responds:

He's all yours now, Ginger.

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-Noah Greenberg