Some of us may have sneered at the inauguration celebrations. Some of us may have thought they were too kitschy or too Romanesque or too gaudy. Some of us may have thought this pomp and circumstance was even rather outdated. However, one thing that cannot be denied or sneered at is the joy, the sheer joy of the American people all over the United States and beyond, at the inauguration of this new President, Barrack Hussein Obama, of African stock. Who would have imagined this even ten years ago? (Even four!). But the joy and euphoria was hardly entirely due to the ethnic origin, but to the whole change this new President symbolizes. And of course, the hope and expectation that this deep rooted change will go way beyond mere symbolism.
But back to the celebrations. One good friend in the States told me that she thought the best moment of this epic inauguration was when the helicopter took off from Washington taking the big bad Bush away forever. A roar of delight went up from the masses spontaneously, it appears. For all the anti-Americanism, highly enhanced all over the world by the Bush administration, for all the shame many Americans felt when traveling abroad, through this election, the American people have proved themselves. They do not want the things that George W. Bush came to stand for. Things like aggressive, unsanctioned war. Deceit. Infringement of human rights, at home and abroad and so on. To their credit, the first time around the American people did not even vote him. As to his second term, it was the War on Terror and the surrounding deceit and intimidation that terrorized and cowed the electorate into voting him in again. But when you base all your politics on spin, ?Communication? i.e. deceit and bullying, things are not going to last because eventually the lying will be revealed for what it is. Like the WMD never found in Iraq for instance. Bush (or rather Cheney one supposes) forgot Lincoln?s saying, that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. And perhaps this is the most important message from Obama?s inauguration. A leader cannot lead where his followers will not follow.
The road ahead is tough, difficult and will require sacrifice and hardship. A steep price to pay for the Bush follies. To be fair, not just the Bush follies but also those of the Milton Friedman school of Free Market Economics that has lead to the horrendous economic meltdown we are now living in.
However, one of the many myths of the ancient Greeks was that of the Phoenix, the bird that was born again out of its ashes. When the Obama administration takes severe measures to curtail the arrant irresponsibility and greed of the world of finance, it will be very difficult to argue against such measures. One can only imagine the outcry that would have gone up even only a year ago were someone to even suggest the need to regulate the markets. So that may well be a plus for Obama. In any case he is not only rising up out of the ashes but raising America, and the rest of us too, with him. That at least, is the hope. And we should all fight for it to the best of our abilities. If our leader is trying to lead us out of the mess and establish a greater degree of fairness and equality, however painful things may feel at the beginning, we should follow him.