Our American Inaugural

Paul Evans

Inaugurals in America are both instrument and ornament: a ritual that we should all prize – a reality we should cherish.

January 20th is Inauguration Day in the United States.

Though we will celebrate the public ritual on the 21st this year because of scheduling conveniences, the public spectacle is less important than the rites associated with a peaceful transition of power from one duly recognized administration – to the next.

This year we will not “transition” a President but make no mistake about it: we will transition our expectations.

We will witness a different Barack Obama today and tomorrow.

Though I cannot be in DC this year, I was in the crowd four years ago.

It was an amazing moment. America witnessed the peaceful transfer of power from the son of political dynasty to the untested hands of a multicultural son (and grandson) of the middle class.

Watching the time honored rituals unfold was something that I will not forget.

Despite sitting alone in the massive crowd of well-wishers – I felt a part of something bigger than a quadrennial political ceremony. We did not know what would come but we knew that Barack Obama provided us with a very different course. America celebrated that promise.

On a personal level I reveled in watching the men who had sent me to war three times in pursuit of empire hand over the reins of government (and the full spectrum of war-powers) to a man elected to end the wars they began.

It could have been far different, but it happened without incident – without malice.

We take this peaceful transfer of power for granted, and I am proud that we live in a nation where we can do so.

The Second Administration of Barack Obama will be quite different than the first. We elected a man tested and worn, but we elected a leader that has found his voice – and his purpose.

Since the election of Barack Obama I have maintained that his initial time as president would likely be filled with moments of unfulfilled promise – as he learned how to navigate the labyrinth of modern American Politics.

I argued that once President Obama found his step – he would be an extraordinary leader – for an extraordinary time.

This assessment has proven surprisingly close to what we have experienced. For those frustrated with the policies of his initial years in office, there has been an undeniable shift in the President's perspective as well as policy.

Barack Obama has grown while in office. He is more comfortable with his duties, more confident in his choices of when, where, and how to engage his political opponents for measurable (if not always satisfying) gains.

President Obama was a good president during his first term; few could have handled as much – and fewer could have done much better.

America did not collapse into a Great Depression. America did not witness the end of the auto industry, the gas/oil industry, or the financial markets.

America kept our word at home and abroad, perhaps at a slower pace than we wanted - but we did not retreat, nor stop our advancement of democratic ideals or human rights.

The last four years saw far more promises kept than broken - with many still in the works. Unfortunately the scale, scope, and size of events these past four years has clouded the accomplishments. This first term was a success, it was an important chapter in US History.

But this next chapter will be far more interesting.

Consider this:

Obama has already transformed the manner in which we facilitate progress abroad through supporting our allies without launching significant enduring military commitments, without losing ground against our sworn enemies.

Obama has already implemented a national health care structure and system that cannot – and will not – be easily undone (ref: recent comments by governors – even Republican governors). It will require adjustment over time, but the reality of universal health care for all is within our grasp.

Obama has already sustained an economic and industrial restructuring that was two decades in the making; a strategy that if continued might well provide the means for an American Renewal in global manufacturing and industry.

In 2012, Obama secured the opportunity to advance these efforts throughout the next four years.

Imagine the country we can, must become, if we are to answer the challenges of our times. Barack Obama is a better President now, and he has nothing but history to answer to.

I am excited about where we are headed...

There have been several moments along the way where I have differed with the strategies and tactics implemented by President Obama and his team.

Truth be told, I remain an 80/20 Democrat (I agree with about 80% of the positions advanced by President Obama). I maintain a few concerns over a handful of certain and specific initiatives favored by the Obama Administration across the spectrum of policy spheres.

But I have faith in the President Barack Obama can become, faith in the America we can become with the right leadership.

We live in a nation that celebrates the rights and responsibilities of citizens to advocate for and against ideas in order to secure a better America.

It is a blessing to live in a place where I can speak, think, and act without fearing retribution from my government. I have spent a lot of my life in places where such freedoms cannot be celebrated.

Here in America reasonable people can differ over both means as well as ends. This is the great value of a free state with free people.

And as a citizen of this free state I am proud of our President. I am hopeful that he will continue to make our America a more perfect Union. And I am comforted with the knowledge that Barack Obama and his team understand the weight of their charge: to advance America as a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Regardless of partisan stripe or ideology, we should all celebrate this moment as something special. A renewal of our national spirit – a reawakening of our national purpose.

Inaugurals in America are both instrument and ornament: a ritual that we should all prize – a reality we should cherish.

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