We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
I thought I was going to make this grand statement about the swearing-in of our new President, Barack Obama. Something akin to Peter Beinart’s recognition that we liberals celebrate “the promise of a future that redeems the past”.
But as I watched through the events today, I noticed at times I got choked up a bit. Not at who our President is, or the occasion of now having our first African-American POTUS. But at the great sense of hope and optimism that his taking office represents.
You can see it in the crowd of 2 million people who braved the cold to watch history unfold on the steps of the Capitol, or the many who traveled from overseas to witness this event. You can see it in the smile on Ted Kennedy’s face as he made the effort to witness his family’s political torch pass to another young, inspirational leader. You can see it in the realization of just how fast history has moved – or, as Obama said, “the ground has shifted underneath us”.
It is an awe-inspiring moment. One that is very hard not to be moved by.
I have been watching politics in America for sixteen years, since I was 11 years old. I have been waiting that entire time to find my civic faith vindicated, to find a candidate, an elected official, a President whose values, ambitions, and message perfectly fit the times we are in and where the country is going (not where the punditry is pointing and distracting us toward).
I have not always been impressed by President Obama. The long campaign against Hillary and against McCain-Palin was exhausting. And there is no doubt that this President is human, is one of us, can make mistakes, and most certainly will. But his heart, his agenda, and his character are all in the right place. He knows how to speak to and inspire the better parts of our collective, national consciousness, to help convince us all to “dust ourselves off” and begin again.
On this day, there can be no doubt. I am immensely proud of our country.
We have finally got it right this time.