I am fortunate to have a friend who is a Congressional staffer and, more importantly, lives on Capitol Hill. I traveled to Washington, DC.. last weekend, ostensibly to visit her, but mostly to sleep on her futon so that I could be there for the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.
There are many people who will cheerfully tell you how smart they were to stay inside and watch the event on their high definition television boxes, “getting a better view than anyone but the Chief Justice.” They cleverly avoided waking up before dawn, navigating the largest crowd of people ever assembled on the National Mall, and standing for hours in cold January weather. (If it wasn’t for a brilliant, last-minute discovery that my sweatpants fit perfectly over my jeans, my legs might not have survived.)
They did not have to deal with the part nobody thought much about: the aftermath. The unprecedented crowd arrived over the course of a few hours, but everybody was pretty much ready to leave simultaneously. (The first few hours of the Obama Administration was a disaster for pedestrians and drivers in D.C. I guarantee that if America had elected McCain, the situation would not have been nearly as bad.)
They, however, are thinking of the inauguration in the wrong way. I was not there to witness the event, I was there to take part in it.
I was there to demonstrate my support of President Obama to President Obama. I was not there for what I could see. I was there so that he could look west from the steps of the Capitol and see this.
I was there to demonstrate to the Congress, and the lawmakers of the States, and the rest of the world, that the election of Barack Obama was no accident. That our decision was not about choosing the lesser of two evils. That the rhetoric is not empty and that behind the words “hope” and “change” there are people.
And, of course, I was there to spend time with my friend.