Monday, February 2, 2009

Presidents; Past, Present, and Future


When I was in the fourth grade I was in love with John Adams. I thought he was the cat’s pajamas. Truthfully, this probably had more to do with William Daniels than our second president, as the musical 1776 was the catalyst for my infatuation.
I still love that musical; I have the director’s cut DVD. It’s perfect for me; it has all the geekiness of being a musical with all the nerdiness of historical drama. Nothing quite warms my heart like the idea that our founding fathers were noble and pure of heart, and occasionally broke into song and dance.
My affections for Mr. Adams have waxed and waned over the years. I couldn’t help but feel betrayed when in later history classes I learned of the Alien and Sedition Acts, a series of bills written in the late 1700s, which, if you look them up on wikipedia, I am sure you will discern a frightening familiarity about them. Still it’s hard to hate a man who scampered amongst the Second Continental Congress (yes, there were two of them) singing at them to “Vote Yes! (Sit down, John) Vote for independency! (Someone oughta open up a window!)”
My uncoolness knows no bounds.


Sometimes, on the news, they say “The President” instead of “President Obama” and it takes me a moment to remember that they’re not talking about Bush. And then I go a little gooey and it’s like I’m getting the election results all over again. In a week, or a month, or a year, the gooeyness is going to fade and I’m going to go back to caring exclusively about the issues but right now, for the first time, we have an African American President of the United States. And, I’m nerdy enough to admit that I teared up a bit typing that. Right now I don’t care about what kind of a president he’s going to turn out to be because I am just so damn proud of US as a nation, so proud that WE elected a black man to be our president. Now, I voted for him because I like him, because I believe in him, because he most closely holds the political opinions and ideals that I hold. But even if he had held political opinions that I disagree with and I had chosen to vote against him I would have been proud of OUR country, because so recently the only thing that would have mattered would have been the color of his skin and he never would have even been nominated. So, now we have an African American President of the United States and in the next four to eight years he is going to prove to be just as capable, intelligent, fallible and human as every old white man who has preceded him.


And now that we have a black man in the White House ANYONE can be president. They’ve always said that, that’s always been part of what people say when they’re talking about how great the U.S. is, how ANYONE can be president. You may be poor and hopeless now but if you work hard enough you too can have the American Dream! But it’s never really been true before. There’s always been the fine print: Catholics need not apply. Jews need not apply. Women need not apply. Blacks need not apply. Latinos need not apply… But not now. Now the door has been opened. And now, who knows? YOU could be president. I could be president! Well, no, not me. I mean, the day I get elected president is the day I emigrate. I would not want to live in a country that has declined to the point where I am considered the most qualified person to lead them. That’s pretty much the definition of dystopia. Yeah, so, not me, but you could still so totally be president now!

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