I know I have emphasized this theme before, but I can't tell you what a relief it is to have the Reign of Error over (I don't know who to credit for that turn of phrase; I saw it on the internet somewhere and thought it's perfectly appropriate). I love that Obama was inaugurated today. But I have to confess that I think I loved Bush leaving more. That was the world's greatest helicopter ride out of town.
I was even more relieved when they swore Joe Biden in, knowing that Dick Cheney could not torture one more man, break one more law or invade one more wrong country.
I feel released from the oppression of one more injustice or one more grave error around the corner. What will they do next? What heinous or negligent act lies ahead for us? But, now it's over. It feels like a burden has been lifted off of me. I feel liberated.
The liberation of America has begun!
The reason for my relief is not my abiding faith that Obama can do no wrong or will make no mistakes. It rides on one single idea - he will do his best. Unlike Bush, he will be diligent, intelligent, responsible and caring. And that makes all the difference.
It's not that Bush didn't care about anybody. I'm sure he loves his family and thinks he loves his country. What I mean is that he didn't care to do the job right. He didn't take his responsibility seriously. It didn't keep him up at night. He didn't diligently think through his actions. He didn't appreciate the consequences of his decisions. He was careless with our well-being.
Obama might not always do right, but I believe he will at least try with all his might. That is the new faith I have in our president and in our country.
And in that light, let me end on this note. I wasn't sure the Roosevelts, the Kennedys or the Bushes really represented me. Not that they were all bad presidents, because they surely weren't (not all of them at least). But because I wasn't sure they were one of us.
Were they from a different class of people? Were they part of a different group I didn't have a chance of joining? Did they rule us instead of lead us?
Bill Clinton was genuinely middle-class. He seemed to show that a real American without any connections or privileges could make it to the top. But you always wondered. Was there something we didn't know about Clinton's connections to the world of the powerful?
With Obama those doubts have been erased. Obama wasn't born as anybody. Obama didn't know anybody. Obama became somebody. It turns out there are no secret elites that exist above us. We are truly a democracy. Any of us can make it.
With this inauguration, this country was made ours. For the first time - as much as I have loved it before - I feel like it is truly our own now. Any one of us can really be the first among equals. The hope that America actually stands for what it proclaims has been realized. That is not to be underestimated. And that is part of why so many people were out in Washington, DC today. Because they came to their inauguration.
America was made real today.