As Declan said: “Barack Obama isn’t President of Elect anymore.”
Words from today’s inaugural speech:
Hail to the chief!
And Amen, Reverend Lowery. Amen.
This opening prayer for the inaugural festivities, given by Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, was left out of the broadcast yesterday, apparently due to a miscommunication between Obama’s planning committee and HBO. To make up for the mistake, it will be rebroadcast before tomorrow’s ceremonies (at least for the couple million people who are at the event).
In case they don’t share it on the networks tomorrow or you miss it, here’s the YouTube version. It’s a sobering, poignant and uncomfortable prayer:
And here’s something precious to think about on this National Day of Service: 30 Things I Believe by a little boy named Tarak McLain who has already become quite a community activist at age seven. I recommend listening to the brief broadcast so you can hear his voice.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful Martin Luther King Day. Here’s a look back at a little mural in an urban Columbus neighborhood that shines a little light on the hopes that Dr. King and our new President have inspired.
Growing up in a Catholic household the 1960s, my husband says that most of the living rooms he visited as a child had pictures of Jesus and JFK hanging on the wall.
As a child of the 1970s, I don’t remember any presidential administration that inspired that kind of iconic reproduction. Things have changed. The stream of Barack Obama faces printed on clothing and hats since early summer festivals this year has been steady to overflowing, many using design elements that intentionally evoke Bob Marley, Che Guevara, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. Apparently, we like wearing our new leader, putting forward our faith in his abilities.
Meanwhile, weird art has been emerging from all corners of the Internet, putting forward its own agenda:
A lot of pundits claim that voters have unrealistic, Jesus (or Fabio)-like expectations of our new President. On first view, this illustration seems to underscore that idea. It was actually intended to poke fun at Obama supporters in Portland, Oregon this past May.
This one comes from Dan Lacey, Painter of Pancakes, who mostly paints political and celebrity figures with pancakes on their heads, although he also has some of famous figures donning jock straps, carrots and “Minnesota” toast” on their noggins. If you poke around his site, you’ll find that there are a couple of other nude Obama with unicorn paintings, including a revision of this one with a leaner president-elect.
An Indiana man who calls himself the “Taco Werewolf” created a series of “Obama Taco Underwear” paintings. Over the summer, when he finished his shifts at a Mexican restaurant, Mr. Werewolf would nosh on free tacos in his underwear and watch Obama speeches, which filled him with such inspiration he was moved to make these paintings.
Last but not least, here’s a camptastic one (pointed out to me by my mom), from local artist Paul Richmond. It is available as a Giclee Print on Etsy.
I was three months pregnant with Declan on election day in 2004, and I spent the next two days in bed, not believing what had happened, not believing that no one in the media seemed to consider the obscenely long lines the equivalent of a poll tax. In the strange hormonal haze of pregnancy, I gave up my news junkie ways for a while.
I’m usually an obsessively informed citizen, but I had to insulate myself from a cultural climate that seemed to consider someone with my views unAmerican. A lot of headlines simply made me cry, so I looked at them through my fingers, often ignoring them altogether, and reverting into the safety of obsessing about becoming a mom.
Today, the news has made me weepy again, but that’s only made me more greedy for every headline or perspective I can get my hands on. I’ve cried at images of the world’s reaction to our new president. I’ve gone weepy every time I watch someone get choked up over the historical significance of yesterday. I cry when I consider last night’s speech, when I consider Barack Obama’s tremendous handle on history, and his clear understanding of and love for U.S. Constitution. I even get choked up when I watch how many Republican figures seem to want to share in the national pride of the moment.
I cry when I think about how disillusioned by the voting process I felt four years ago, and how relieved that everyone’s right to vote now seems to matter to Ohio’s newer government officials.
Jennifer Brunner has gotten a lot of threats. We should be sending her flowers and thank you cards.
Declan’s a fan of Barack Obama. But he also asks about John McCain, aware that he’s the other face we see the most on television these days. I’ve tried to explain what the president of the USA does, that some people like one man and some the other, and how elections work.
He came back at me with “I like Barack Obama. I like John McCain. I like the two Americans.”
You know, if I could only bottle that and put it in the water supply.
I think what that tells me is that I’ve been acting more measured about this election than I feel. In 2004, I liked Kerry, but my negative feelings about Bush were overwhelming. We have our reasons for voting Obama here, but disdain for John McCain isn’t chief among them. In fact, I know I dislike the policies and the ugliness of the campaign strategies, while there is still plenty I admire about the man.
I really hope that if Obama wins today, one of the big lessons is that character assassination campaigns are not only uninspired, their results are limited. (The anti-Obama Reverend Wright commercials just made me ill last night. Seeing them in contrast with news coverage about Obama’s grandmother’s death just highlighted their tackiness.)
I’ve explained to my son that he’s not allowed to vote until he’s 18 several times in the past week. This morning, knowing that his daddy still had to vote today, he told me: “I’m 18.” (His dad worked for ACORN when he was a young man, but we didn’t try to register our three-year-old, I swear.) Declan got dressed enthusiastically and they went to the polls. He’s not angry or scared or even apprehensive about the results – he’s just purely and beautifully excited to participate in this world, in our country, in democracy. He wants to vote for his preferred candidate of the two Americans.
I just got a call that their voting trip was successful, that the wait wasn’t too bad, and that Declan got to press the button for Barack Obama and cast his daddy’s vote.
Here’s a song for my voting Irishmen: O’Bama.
Good luck to those of you voting today.
If you have any problems at the polls, call one of these hotlines:
1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
My mom just called me to say that a woman working the desk at the OSU Medical Center told her she wouldn’t vote for Obama because “he’s told everybody that he won’t swear in on the Bible.” I can’t even find that particular rumor online – it’s obviously a conflation of multiple untruths.
Perhaps anyone too lazy to do the 30 seconds worth of research to debunk these patenty false claims is also too lazy to withstand long voting lines, but perhaps not. If you need backup against the uninformed in the next 24 hours, don’t forget to use Snopes and Factcheck.org.
And if you haven’t voted, go do it now. Or plan to take the day off work tomorrow with a book or Gameboy or knitting project or crossword puzzles or exercise plan and some snacks and a minor pain reliever (particularly if you have any joint or back problems). Try to enjoy the company of your fellow voters. Apparently standing in line can even help you burn calories.
Here are some stretches you can do to relieve tension while you wait.
This afternoon in Columbus, in front of the Ohio Statehouse just before Michelle and Barack Obama spoke. It’s hard to hear, but “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher” are inspiring the moves.
My mom called me yesterday morning to ask me whether I’d gotten a flu shot or voted yet. I’d feel better when I got those things out of the way, she assured me. So I ticked one off my list yesterday.
The line snaked back and forth like an amusement park ride, only this one was full of people shuffling their feet, text messaging on cell phones, or scratching their names and addresses onto cards while poll workers made sure to give a clipboard and pen to anyone who needed them.
“It will take about two hours,” a police officer told us as we joined the end of the line. There were groans and shrugs, but not one of us budged.
I chatted quietly with two women on either side of me, both clutching Democratic party sample ballots. We made pacts that we’d save each others’ place in line if someone had to pee. We found out that all three of us made a habit of voting no matter what, but we all saw people desert the lines in 2004, unwilling or unable to take the time.
This time, people with canes, people with squirmy, unhappy babies, college students with sociology homework and people in wheelchairs quietly waited in the line. We talked about Florida, where we heard that some people were already waiting in seven-hour lines because they wanted to be counted, just as we did. We talked about how we weren’t going to take any chances by waiting until Tuesday.
We marveled at the massive, diverse crowd – probably about half African-American voters, of every age. It seemed like more than half of the room was carrying Democratic party sample ballots, including one older woman in a white sweatshirt that said “Jesus’ All-Star Team: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter and Me.” A middle-aged woman reading Night by Elie Weisel used her ballot as a bookmark, as did a young one, her nose buried in Kabul Beauty School. by Deborah Rodriguez and Kristin Ohlson.
One man argued loudly with his car insurance company on his bluetooth headset for fully half an hour, at one point claiming that he was currently driving his car. One of my line companions warned us that we were about to be run over.
We were a little sore and cranky by the time we got in, but it was not quite and hour and a half before we reached the big room, full of private cubes were we could fill out our paper ballots, seal them in an envelope, deposit them into the giant steel ballot boxes and get our ‘I voted” stickers.
There was something gratifying about marking my choices in ink on clear, easy-to-read ballots. I was relieved not to entrust my precious vote to the software of a Republican company. I was relieved to see so many people so hell-bent on voting. I was relieved, because four years ago, I didn’t feel outnumbered by people who disagreed with me, I felt distrustful of and angered by the voting process.
My eyes welled up as I left. I grabbed an “I voted early for Barack Obama” sicker from one of the volunteers in the parking lot and went home.
A few days ago, Jill Miller Zimon from Writes Like She Talks put out a call for some Chicken Soup for the Swing State Soul to help us slog through these last few pre-election days. I’m trying to come up with some, and you should too.
In the meantime, this video by Ron Howard, with special guest appearances by Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler, is just freaking adorable pre-election/Halloween candy for the ’60s or ’70s child soul.
Our Obama-Biden sign was stolen from our yard today. Looks like a couple of others on the block were as well.