Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Inauguration for The People

For the first time ever, I not only know people who are going to this Presidential Inauguration but some who have been invited to it (Mark Doty, Paul Lisicky, among others) and someone who's going to speak, the poet Elizabeth Alexander. (no, don't know her well, but well enough--she was at the Napa Valley Writers Conference in 2007 and will be again this summer. Excellent choice, Obama!) Highly unusual on all accounts for moi. Generally speaking, my people go to Washington, DC either for protesting or touristing, although a couple of them have gone there for work, and one of them went to testify before a Congressional Committee of sort; I don't remember which one or about what, it was along time ago, and we've since forgiven him.

This is different. I even considered going myself except for the money, time, huge crowds, below-freezing temps. I am a temperature wimp these days. But people from my town, my work, my vocation, my community, from every strata that I deal with, are going. My people are going. And my people are welcome. I would not say that was true of many other Inaugurations; Bill Clinton's excepted, perhaps. Certainly not a G.W.Bush Inauguration. Not to say that many of my people would have wanted to go, but really, the little people, the worker-bees, the fabric of America? We didn't count for much in that regime, his protests to the contrary.

This outpouring of support, emotion, even gratitude, is the result of Obama's own sense of grace, his intelligent compassion, his attention to what matters to the vast majority of Americans, rather than the elite minority who attempt to wheel and deal their hold on power. The millions flooding into Washington this weekend are not just representatives of his constituency; they are his constituency: everyone, the full gamut, the entire enchilada. We worked for him; we believed in him. We couldn't offer him influence or even much money, but we volunteered what time and effort we could. We talked to strangers, to our friends and family, we blogged; we drove to other states, made phone calls, contributed $25 or $30 when we could. And he remembers that.

It just makes my little heart go pitta-patt.

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