My daughter is leaving today for D.C. She was a staffer on the Obama campaign so she has tickets to several inaugural events and parties. I'm excited for her. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and after all of the long hours and hard work everyone who worked on the campaign endured, they have earned the celebration.
I am also excited that this country is finally coming out of eight years of total disaster. I would feel incredibly sorry for anyone stepping into the Presidency now. It is such a mess I can't imagine that the worst of it can be cleaned up in only one administration. We will be dealing with the aftermath of our blind stupidity for many years to come.
I admire Barack Obama tremendously, and if anything my admiration has grown deeper since the election. I've watched him do what every politician who has gone to Washington in my lifetime said they would do - reach out to the other side, to those they don't agree with and look for commonality. It appears he is the first that will actually do it. If he is able to at least prop up the economy, get us out of a war we should never have gone into, begin to restore the rule of law and meet even a quarter of the other goals he has cited, I will be terribly, terribly impressed. I am not sure that I believe anyone can do this.
I have been mulling something over in my mind for months and have struggled with how to express it effectively in words. I still am not certain I can, but here goes.
What if the mess we have today is the natural evolution of a Democracy that is approaching 250 years old? What if this is what it is supposed to look like by now? What if this is the best we can expect? While the style of Democracy we practice is far from perfect, it is the closest thing to a true, ongoing Democracy this world has ever seen.
What if this grand experiment truly is experimental in it's life span? As experiments go, lasting 250 years is an awfully long run. It might be that it is tired, worn out, and zapped of its strength to carry on. What if it was never meant to last this long?
If that is the case, then regardless of who is in charge, saving the United States form of Democracy would be a futile effort. It would not be salvageable. Something else, hopefully as good as and perhaps even better could be formed, if there is a commitment on the part of everyone involved. But the form of governance adults remember so fondly from their youth (admittedly being viewed through rose colored glasses) would be out of our reach forever.
I hope this is not true. I hope that the United States is just nicked and dinged a little, not damaged beyond repair. But I am absolutely certain that the only way we can hope to restore our government to the level we all deserve, or craft an even better one, is to look and move forward. We need to learn from our past, not live in it. And that is a lesson I think many, many people in D.C. have yet to learn.