Your Take #2

January 19, 2009 8:12 a.m.

From TPM Reader RB

Ever since I saw Saturday’s post asking for everyone’s thoughts on what the inauguration means to each of us, I’ve been giving it some thought now and again. Initially, I kept coming back to the (almost by now hackneyed) thoughts of hope, optimism and the promise of a better government, alternating with sheer relief that the Bush administration is finally over with. But that struck me as rather obvious, and only touched the surface of what has been an emotionally and intellectually complex–for me, anyway–general election.

And then I read that Arlen Specter spoke in Philadelphia Saturday to help kick off Obama’s whistle stop journey to D.C. I realized that when I read that, I immediately tensed up unhappily. My visceral, kneejerk reaction was one of almost anger at the idea that a republican would have such a high-profile presence at an event for a democratic president-elect. My president-elect. I paused to think about my reaction, and about why Obama invited Specter to speak at the event. I thought about his ideas on government expressed in Audacity of Hope. And I thought about why I’d grown so angry at all things republican, beginning in 1994, but really crystallizing over the last eight years. I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that this kind of cooperation, the idea that we should work together without regard to party affiliation, is exactly what made Obama so compelling to me in the first place. Then I read the NYT piece detailing how Obama has reached out repeatedly to former rival McCain, and I had to catch myself to keep from having that same reaction. I had to remind myself that our government wasn’t always about two competing parties, always at odds and always acrimonious. It’s going to be a hard habit to shake off (for all of us, I imagine), but I finally realized that what this inauguration means to me is that we have an opportunity to truly put aside partisan rancor and focus on perfecting our union, and that feeling comes as a kind of happy relief. And that applies to all of us, not just the office holders in DC.

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