I stayed home yesterday.
One of my profs made class optional for those who wanted to watch the inauguration, one canceled. But I didn't stay home because of BO. I stayed home because of Status Hemiplegic Migraine. Seriously cool shit, man. NO headache--just unbearable pain and weakness on the left side of my body...for five days. And believe me, by Tuesday, I was ready for change.
Of course, I'm not writing just to tell you what it feels like to have half your body in a migraine--though, overall, I'd say, Not Fun. I am, of course writing because yesterday we got change. I think most of the country and world was ready for change. Even if the change we got is not to everyone's liking, we were all, as a friend of mine (Girl) on the Right so well put it, sick of the same set of ugly errors (http://rightrants.today.com/2009/01/21/new-media-vs-old-farts/).
Me? I'm on the fence. I'm rather fond of much of what BO had to say yesterday. In fact, I think there were three things he said that are most important:
1) Taking away our rights and the rights on which our democracy was built WILL NOT make us more secure. Rather, it is a manner of playing into the hands of terrorists. Israelis have known this for years. We like to put it this way: "The day you don't get' on a bus is the day the terrorists win."
Why? Because their first and most important aim is to "change" our way of life. If they can make us afraid to talk on the phone, they have already won. If they can make us fear our government because being critical of it is "unpatriotic" and a great way to get a free tour of Gitmo, they've won because they've made us into them.
In that, The Bush administration may have had its greatest failing. It used the terror attacks of 9/11 to perpetrate an 8 year terror campaign on us all. They kept us wrapped and warped in their color codes. They made us take off our stupid shoes in public! (I say this having flown in and out of Israel many times; shoe removal IS NOT a security measure, it's a make-you-feel-like-we're-doing-something-when-we-aren't measure!).
2) BO also said that government MUST conduct its business in the open, with full disclosure. It's about bloody time. It may not really happen, since we really do have ops all over the world, keeping dictators in our pockets, controlling economic movements and generally being sneaky and rather black crow-ish from spy-vs-spy, but bringing back what little sunlight we had on government's doings and maybe adding in some more would be lovely! The laundry might even dry!
3) Finally, BO pointed out that the way out of a financial crisis wasn't to stop spending money on anything, but to take measure of everything and stop spending money on the things that don't work, while creating (and continuing the funding for) things that do. That means the billions of dollars that go each year to programs that have spent decades proving they do not work may no longer be spent on those programs. What an idea! It's called cutting back on wasteful spending. There's not a Democrat or Republican left in this country who would recognize that if it knocked on the door and asked to come in.
Can he do it? No, he can't. And he's said as much. He's pointed out that no single politician or group thereof can make any of this happen. That's why he's regularly asking for our help. So, to change the question; can it be done? I think it can. In the words of Miracle Max, "It'll take a miracle." but after the beautiful water landing in NYC last week, I believe in miracles (again).
I also believe that careful scrutiny, healthy skepticism, and willingness to do what each of us believes we can and must for the greater good, will get it done.
On this note, I want to emphasize one thing in particular. The Obama administration should not be carefully watched for the first 100 days to see how its stated mission is progressing: it should and every administration should be watched for the next 4 years to see how its stated mission is progressing--and how it is going about the business of meeting said mission.
Skepticism is healthy until it leaves you on the sofa waiting for someone else to do the work. Government help is healthy until it encourages you to sit on the sofa and wait for government help. Change is reality. And sometimes, it can be good.