Four couples sat in the late September air in a wonderful back yard, enjoying drinks and anticipating a delicious dinner. It was just a few weeks before an election that until then we had been sure would re-elect President Obama.
Lately, though, the confidence of many of us had been shaken. Mitt Romney was polling pretty well and we were worried.
We talked into the night, about volunteering for the Obama campaign, about the incessant email requests for contributions we were all receiving. Eventually the discussion devolved into dystopian visions of what America would look like with a President Romney.
We pledged that night that if the president was re-elected, the eight of us would get together again, this time to celebrate his second inauguration.
There were so many reasons we were rooting for President Obama. In his first term he accomplished so much. Right out of the gate, an equal pay act. And keeping the country from being ruined by a financial implosion. And the cash-for-clunkers program, health care reform, important tweaks on student loans, improving hate crimes laws, a huge tax cut, granting benefits to 9/11 first responders, appointing two women to the Supreme Court, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending one war and significantly scaling down another, reforming Wall Street (not that we’re done), expressing a conviction that gay and lesbian people should be allowed to marry, signing a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, and vastly improving America’s reputation around the world. Already, his leadership on gun control, absent until now, looks to be a huge success in his second term.
Now the inauguration is here, and it’s for the guy we were rooting for. And working for. And donating to.
I’ve never traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the festivities but I’ve always enjoyed them. Maybe not literally always, but always when my candidate is the one getting sworn in.
It’s one of those times when America puts on a great show. We celebrate the president, sure, but we also pay tribute to the idea of democracy and the peaceful transition of power. It’s expensive, and that’s a big concern, but it’s a party worth throwing. Everyone gets into the act, including vendors who show up to sell special trinkets. A lovely friend brought me a treasure from President Obama’s first inauguration, an awesome scarf with Obama’s name stitched into the design.
That first inauguration was an epic moment. Everyone was thinking about the historic elements of the election and how far our nation had come to elect an African American, a man born into a less than well-to-do family, to be president of the United States.
Second inaugurations generally create less hoopla than the first, but, it’s a phenomenal effort. Inauguration weekend kicked off Friday with a National Day of Service. For the big day, there will be more than 50,000 volunteers helping out. Twenty-eight thousand groups applied to march in the parade. Jumbotron screens 21 feet high will help those there in person to see the swearing-in.
I’m so glad President Obama will be leading us for four more years. He hasn’t been perfect, but he has worked hard and conducted himself with great dignity.
There’s plenty more to accomplish; let’s get started. ----
Barb Guy writes a twice-monthly column for Sunday Opinion.