This is not a “Hurray for our side” nor a “He’s not my President” type of rant. There is not anything here you can’t find somewhere else. I’m writing this post for three reasons: 1) I watched the inauguration live 2) I’m a history teacher, and 3) I blog, that’s what I do.
The presidential campaign was historic in and of itself. It was the first time that two current senators ran against each other for the highest office in the land. Of the last 5 presidents, 4 were first state governors. Only the senior President Bush had just served as the V.P. for eight years. We knew that on election night, we would either be choosing the first African American to serve as President ever, or the first woman to fill the role of Vice President. McCain would have been the oldest president ever elected (which has a lot to do with why he lost). This race, more than any other, took place in cyberspace. I streamed the debates live from CNN.com, and both candidates ran websites and sent e-mails. Some of the debate questions were e-mailed in. The campaign was historic.
The inauguration was historic as well. Barack Hussein Obama (he did use his middle name during the oath) is the 44th person to be sworn in as president, and the first African American. My U.S. History students are right now studying the 14th and 15th amendments. One gives the former slaves citizenship, the other the right to vote. This was the most expensive inauguration ever, costing approximately $150 million. Joe Biden is the first Catholic ever elected to serve as Vice President, and the age difference between he and Obama (66 and 47) is the widest gap ever between the two positions.
What’s remarkable is that without a military coup, guerrilla warriors, nor even violence in the streets, we had a transition of power from one president to another, and from one party to another. The democratic process works, and whether it was “our guy” that won the election or not, we all respect the institution and office of the President. I think there were some good choices made in terms of the ceremony, and I liked some of things Obama said in his speech. Rick Warren delivered the invocation, a controversial choice for some because of his stance on abortion and gay marriage. Obama talked about Christians, Muslims and non-believers working together toward our common goals, so he didn’t see having Warren pray as a problem. Warren represents a large segment of the American population. It should not offend non-Christians nor non-believers when a person that believes in God prays to their God. He also said that the current economic situation was due in part to irresponsibility and those who did not make hard choices. Sometimes hard choices must be made, and I hope that Obama exhibits the ability to do that like he seems to be saying he can.