Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration

I don’t like discussing politics, and I sure as hell never considered writing about them on my blog. Mostly it’s because I fear I’ll look uninformed when I express my opinion, despite my CNN, NPR, cnn.com, and msnbc.com addictions. Today I am deviating from my usual political hermit crabness, and will write my first politically themed post here on A Life of Adventure, so there you have it—history in the making.

For the first time since the Clinton administration I am excited about presidential politics. When I was a freshman in college I voted for the first time. I stood inside the booth and flicked the lever next to Bill Clinton’s name. I stood there for a moment looking at all the buttons, names and levers and felt the butterflies in my stomach wake up. The second time I voted for him, in 1996 was when I first lived on my own. I registered as a voter in Massachusetts, and I walked to a local school a few blocks from my first apartment and pulled the Clinton lever again and hoped for another Clinton victory. My wish was granted.

I have come from Republican parents. While my brothers have largely carried on the Republican gene, my sisters and I are more left-leaning. When home from college, and in the period between college and moving out of home, I worked for my dad at his machine shop. I worked with my brothers and my sister on a daily basis. It was my job to do anything from answering the phone, drilling holes into pieces of metal, entering data into an ancient amber screened computer system whose information was backed up to tapes at the end of every day. I spent most of my time working in the office along side my die-hard Republican Limbaugh listening brother, Walter. Part of my duties was to answer the phone during the 12:00-12:30 lunch period. Walter usually ate at his desk, and blared the first half hour of Rush Limbaugh while he ate and while I was held prisoner in the office, chained to the ringing phone.

“Listen to this guy, Beej,” Walter prodded, “he’s the God of politics. He’ll teach you something.” So I listened. And I hated every minute of it. But I still listened and tried to give it a chance.

“If he’s so smart,” I began, “why doesn’t Rush run for President? All I hear his him bitching about this and that, and then telling everyone over and over how smart and great he is. I don’t really hear anything interesting here.”

“Then you aren’t listening. You’re what’s wrong with this country. You elected that idiot we have in office now,” Walter sighed, referring to President Clinton.

“I don’t think he won by only one vote. In fact, I think he won by a lot of them,” I replied, cheekily.

“You know what I mean, it’s people like you that elected him” he growled, and bit into his sandwich. I gazed at Walter’s blue eyes, an anomaly in my brown-eyed family, and not for the first time wondered if he was adopted. There was no way to logically infer that we’d come from the same womb.

On a November morning in 2000 I stretched on the floor of my gym as I watched the news. I didn’t stay up the night before to watch the election results. I couldn’t bear to. Still a Massachusetts resident, I cast my vote for Gore, and hoped for the best. I watched the drama unfold with the election results in Florida, and bit my nails down to nubs hoping for a miracle. I did the same in 2004. It’s not that I was a Gore fan, or a Kerry fan. I would have voted for a panda bear if one ran against Bush. The choices for President for those two elections didn’t interest or inspire me. “At this point, I am voting for the candidate I dislike the least,” I would dejectedly sigh when the conversation turned to politics.

In November, Todd and I watched the election results roll in. At the top of each hour, the newest tally was presented from which ever state closed their polls. We watched politically themed movies like “Black Sheep” and “American President” while we waited to be updated every hour. We cheered every Obama victory. We watched McCain’s concession speech, and commented on how classy it was. We sat up and watched Obama’s victory speech, and giggled excitedly. We barely slept that night for the excitement.

I’ve been listening to the preparation of the inauguration on NPR in the mornings on my way to work. More than once I’ve felt the slight sting in my eyes as I feel like I am about to cry out of joy and excitement. For the first time since my first time voting I am excited and inspired by my country’s President. Mr. Obama, please don’t let us down. There are a lot of us out here rooting for you.

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