"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Inauguration

You know, I just can't bring myself to watch the Obama inauguration. $150+ million dollars... or to put in another way with all the zeroes intact $150,000,000+ to celebrate. As many others outside the MSM have already said Bush was criticized for a $40+ million ($40,000,000+ just to be fair) price tag on his own inauguration. Too expensive while we're at war they said. Hey, now we're at war and in a recession... better bump up the spending on this one. My favorite headline regarding the inauguration, oh I wish I could remember from which paper, "Forget Economy, Go for the Glitz." Geez...

It seems there's a lot of things we need to forget. Forget about Iran developing nuclear weapons (don't worry... they're just a little nation), race mongering spiritual mentors (that's not the Jeremiah Wright I knew...), Illinois political machines, Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground (rock group from the '60s?), ACORN... Better stop here... think I need an aspirin. By the way, does the composition of this Obama photo turn anyone else's stomach?

I know pomp has its place here. A peaceful transition of power (which this represents) is something Americans largely take for granted but is actually a very rare thing, historically speaking. Many modern democracies, such as Columbia, the Ukraine, Thailand, Zimbabwe, and many, many more have a real devil of the time with the act.

So sure, celebration is in order here. But what exactly are we celebrating and what should we be celebrating? This inauguration, as in most inaugurations, seems to be celebrating the winner. Obama won! Yay! Bush's inaugurations were little different, as were Clinton's, and Bush the first's, and Reagan's, and Carter's, etc. Some years it's Democrats partying like it's 1999 and other years it's the Republicans.

But shouldn't the inauguration mean more to the country than mere partisan gains? Whether I approve of the winner this election or not (newsflash: this time I don't), it behooves me to remember the beatings by partisan thugs during Zimbabwe's elections, La Violencia following Colombia's Jorge Eliécer Gaitán's assassination. It's a stark reminder of the thinness of the line between transition and rebellion, between political change and political violence. We Americans seem to believe this line to be indelibly etched into this nation's consciousness. We do so at our peril. Do not be arrogant. Do not think that we are so very different from other, less domestically peaceful democracies. We're not.

So today, I suppose, I will be celebrating in a way. I'm not going to be purchasing a tacky Obama commemorative plate anytime soon, nor an Obama coin set, nor an Obama poster, nor an American flag with Obama's portrait emblazoned upon it (spare me...). But when I'm assailed by the media with this event, despite my best efforts to avoid it, I will remind myself that I live in a country that values domestic peace over partisan violence, a country that believes that peaceful opposition can effectively bring about political change, a country that still believes that the members of its government are subject to the law of the nation. And that is something to celebrate.

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