Monday, January 19, 2009

Real change has come...

So tomorrow is the big day. Barack Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States of America. As someone who supported Mr. Obama both in the primaries & general election, and also as someone who has despised President George W. Bush & nearly everything he's done to this country over the past 8 years, I'm far more enthusiastic about this inauguration than I have been about any other in my life.

Even I will admit that the hype over Mr. Obama's election as president is a bit ridiculous, this largely due to 24/7 sensationalist media & a desperate appetite among the populace for an end to the Bush morass. Still though, this truly is a momentous time in American history. With Obama the United States will have its first President with African heritage. The first black family to reside in a White House which was built partly by slave-labor. Of course, this is also a pivotal time in our history. We are at a crossroads, perhaps more so than at any other time. Our country is facing massive economic turmoil, our prestige in the world has been severely tarnished, our relevancy greatly diminished, threats to our national security, and really the security of world peace overall is perhaps more grave than ever before. Of course, all of this means this is also a time of great potential, especially considering that in President Obama we will have a man who has not only promised something distinctly different than what we've had time & again over many decades, but who truly seems to possess the intellect, the desire & the ability to deliver on many of those promises.

George Bush ran as a "uniter". In actuality he divided the country — the only unity, mostly agreement on how disastrous his presidency has been. I truly believe that in most respects this country has not been so polarized since the Civil War. Ironic, then, that Mr. Obama is often compared so often to President Lincoln. And in many ironic ways, it fits. Lincoln was a Senator from Illinois, he freed African-American slaves, he was a man from humble beginnings, tall & lanky. Mr. Obama, of course, former Senator of Illinois, partly African-American, also a man of humble birth, tall & lanky, and he's gone out of his way at times to create more similarities, like emulating Lincoln's so-called "Team of Rivals" cabinet, to take a symbolic train ride from Illinois to Washington as Lincoln did, and electing to be sworn in on the very bible that Lincoln himself was sworn in with.

I find it very refreshing that not only will we not have a Bush or Clinton running the White House {save for Hillary as Secretary of State}, but also that we won't have a privileged elitist, either. Contrary to how conservatives choose to dishonestly frame Mr. Obama, largely, I suspect, out of partisanship & resentment to his being a man with an obvious intellect, the man is not an elitist. He doesn't come from wealth. No blue blood here. His family is not tied to politics. He doesn't have generations of ivy league behind him. No Skull & Bones fraternity. He will not be yet another Freemason in the White House. Though Christian, he wasn't actually indoctrinated as such during childhood. Even his parents represent something completely taboo a mere two generations ago. Much mockery has been made of his motto of "change", but more so than any other president, he does represent major change.

Other than the superficial, characteristics of personality, heritage, background, his promises to be a presidency with a great deal of ideological change over what we've endured for several decades. He seems to be idealistic & pragmatic rolled into one. I like that.
I like that a lot, actually. Perhaps because I can relate to that.

Clearly he is left-leaning in regards to many issues, which I also like. But, of course, I also don't conform to the stereotypical ideology of modern-day liberalism. Not at all. Sure, I'm a firm believer in a near absolute protection of free speech, separation of church & state, and while I have ethical qualms about abortion I believe the procedure should be legal.
Certainly no socialist, I'm also not a "free markets" kind of guy. To me, wealth doesn't trickle down, it flows up. You can call it Marxist "spread the wealth" isolationist protectionism if you want to, but I'm all for tearing up NAFTA/CAFTA, instituting Fair Trade policies, living wages & ensuring the wealthy pay THEIR share of taxes.

I'm all for same-sex marriage, partly because I believe in genuine equality, egalitarianism, the principles set forth in the 14th Amendment — due process & equal protection of the laws — but as a homosexual, to have access to the same rights & privileges that my heterosexual peers do is important to me, too. Besides, I might want to tie the knot someday.

Now, when it comes to collectivism, bigger & more intrusive government, however, I'm extremely leery.
Yes, I think we need government investment in new technologies, re-building infrastructure, switching the country to renewable energy & some limited regulation of markets. But universal health care? I'm nervous about the government managing something so massive & personal. Government has a tendency to create inefficient, bloated bureaucracies that cost far too much & accomplish far too little. As far as I'm concerned, health care should be made affordable perhaps through government-regulation of prices, because whether insurance companies & employers go bankrupt or the government does, neither is an acceptable outcome.

I'd like to see everyone give up smoking & eat healthier — voluntarily. I don't go along with the nanny-state mentality of taxing tobacco & "junk" food, government bans on smoking in all public places {including the sidewalk}. I don't agree with the concept of imposing new taxes on items on the basis they will create a new revenue stream whilst "nudging" people to consume less of the item, i.e. taxing tobacco, "junk" food, gasoline.

Unlike the typical "liberal" I make a clear distinction between opposing illegal immigration and opposing immigration. I'm strongly opposed to the former, but supportive of the latter. This in no way makes me a xenophobe. Gun control? I think we need to enforce the laws we have & the 2nd amendment is not merely a guarantee of a National Guard...

So, naturally, I welcome Barack Obama & his political ideology in many ways. But I'm certainly not going to agree with him on everything. Not even close. I'm not impressed with some of his cabinet picks, I'm concerned that he will be overly supportive of Israel & Rick Warren's being chosen to give the invocation at his inauguration was an insult to those homosexuals who supported him. Still, it would appear that both liberal Democrats & fiscally conservative Republicans believe that an Obama administration will bring back big-government socialism. He's certainly not going to shrink the size of government, but I do think he will be more pragmatic than either side is willing to admit right now. This, along with perhaps fostering some genuine unity for a change, is just what this country needs right now.

For the first time ever, as inauguration day comes tomorrow & the swearing in takes place, I will be watching. Like so many folks, I'm thrilled to turn the page on the disastrously incompetent presidency of George "Dubya" Bush. And I'm definitely excited and {cautiously} optimistic about the change that's coming — something new; something better.

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