Monday, January 19, 2009

Regime Change

Web comic by Pictures for Sad Children. Click to enlarge.

I've been hanging on to the above comic for a few weeks. I figure now is a good time to post it. The last frame reads "Mr. President: I look forward to being disappointed in new ways."

I feel confident that Barack Obama will be a good president, but I'm not delusional. The country he's inheriting is a real fixer upper, and if the economy continues to get worse in the next year... well, I will likely still blame it on Bush.

As I anticipate tomorrow's inauguration, which follows the day we honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr., I feel mostly optimistic. I'm not alone in my hopefulness. Obama is beginning his term with a 78% approval rating. A poll of nations indicates that "there is growing optimism Barack Obama's presidency will lead to improved relations between the US and the rest of the world." And CNN reports "more than two-thirds of African-Americans believe Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for race relations has been fulfilled."

Certainly that dream of judging people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin is an aspiration we must vigilantly pursue forever. But the more tangible milestone of a black president was also predicted by Dr. King in a forgotten and fascinating 1964 video. As we finally reach that milestone, it feels good to be living this moment of history.

But now I want to mention that tiny bit of dread I feel. It's that fear that we've come so far, and yet something might still go wrong. I feel like a jerk for even bringing up the topic, but my parents jabber about these things openly.

In case you don't remember from previous posts, my father is a total Fox-watching neocon. I only had one ear to a conversation today where my mom talked about the uncertainty of events tomorrow -- how we don't know the future. My dad grumbled about how people were certain to riot. Basically, my elderly parents were talking about an assassination in the same detached way you'd predict the weather.

It makes me sick, and yet I realize they have witnessed more history than I have. But they also still live in that past. They're among the last holdouts in a culture war that pits "real Americans" against the rest.

I thought that as I grew older I was supposed to somehow understand the wisdom of my parents. Instead I find myself sometimes scorning and sometimes confronting their blatant racism, bigotry, and ignorance.

Anyway, don't let me be the drag on tomorrow's parties. The security at the inauguration event sounds impressive, and on Wednesday, Barack Obama's new regime can start working on that change we've been believing in.

No comments: