Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Still Hopeful

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day. My teenage daughter had no classes, but she had plenty of work to do. Six tests in four days — her very first high school mid-terms are this week, which has caused great stress in our household.

My husband was getting ready for a business trip, and I had a fair amount of advertising copy to write. And, since it was technically a "day off" here in Massachusetts, there was a list of chores about a mile high. (Isn't that how you spend your days off? Doing all the things you don't have time or energy for on days on.)

Nevertheless, I took a little break midday to watch Barack H. Obama become our president again.

Obama is a consummate speaker. In fact, it was through his inspiring oratory that he first came onto the national stage back at the DNC in 2004. The convention, which formalized the less than successful ticket of Johns Kerry and Edwards, was held here in Boston. I know. I was there.

You see, I was tired of hearing all of my liberal friends bitch and moan about President Bush and the Republican party without actually stepping up, so I decided to try and contribute to the cause. I volunteered and was duly vetted and security-checked, then sent an official badge and lanyard and a very nice DNC polo shirt. I can't quite remember what my expectations were in terms of my conference assignment, but I ended up playing an enormously valuable role. I — and I alone — ensured that all of the delegates — not just a few, mind you, but all — from the great "show me" state of Missouri got on the correct bus for dinner. No truants, no stragglers, no misplaced Missourians. I did my job and I did it well.

Yes, that is the extent of my political career and I am damned proud of it.

Anyway, even with all of that responsibility on my shoulders, I could easily see that this charismatic young man from Illinois was going places. When he ran for president in 2008, he did so in the name of "Change" and "Hope."

It's been a long four years. Poor Barack has had to fight a partisan Congress, an economy on life support, and a host of disastrous events both natural and man-made. He hasn't moved as quickly or definitively as many of my more progressive friends would have liked. 

But, if yesterday's inaugural speech is any indication, it looks like second-term Obama is going to stop beating around the bush (no pun intended) and push through the things he believes in. 

Like equality. He specifically mentioned Seneca Falls (women), Selma (blacks) and Stonewall (gays) in the same sentence. In doing so, he endorsed LGBT rights and equated them to suffrage and the civil rights movement. And, in case any listeners didn't see the connection (or weren't caught up on their American history), he came right out and said, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." 


He spoke about all of the policy bogeymen that have haunted his first term. Climate change (finally), immigration, universal health care. And, he evoked the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in a timely reminder (particularly timely as Vice President Biden's recommendations for gun legislation are considered). 

"Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."

What I think was most powerful of all was his assertion throughout that his more progressive agenda was actually true to the very core of our country's values and the original mission of our founders. For good measure, he alluded to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence throughout.

And, to top it off, he asked God to bless us. Can anyone really argue with that?

This is the man I voted for again two months ago. And that was the speech I waited four years to hear.

And I only have one more thing to say. "Hillary 2016."

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