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Bruce McFarland: Say goodbye to the honeymoon

Democratic Voices

Posted: February 2, 2009 8:06 p.m.
Updated: February 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Bruce McFarland Bruce McFarland
Bruce McFarland

Two weeks ago, my wife and I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready for a 45-minute train ride to Federal Triangle Station, Washington, D.C., - about five blocks from the Washington Monument and three blocks from where we would stand to watch Barack Obama be sworn into the presidency.

That day was the culmination of weeks of anticipation, months of campaigning and years of living in fear that such a day might not ever happen.

The pre-inauguration mood in D.C. was as positive, jubilant and joyful as I've ever seen. Everyone was in great spirits - talking about the big day, laughing, smiling, telling tales about how and why they came to D.C.

Eyes were sparkling. Faces were glowing. We were all just one big happy, diverse family of Americans coming to D.C. to help usher in our new president and a new future for America.

We left our hotel in Springfield, Virginia, a little after 5 a.m. and made it to the Federal Triangle stop about 7 a.m., and to our place on the National Mall about 8:30 a.m.

That was, of course, us and about 2 million of our closest new friends. The train trip was much more arduous than the rides we took on the three prior days, but we arrived relatively unscathed.

We had heard that Inauguration Day temperatures would improve and likely exceed freezing. Nonetheless, we wore multiple layers of socks, gloves, longjohns, shirts, sweaters, scarves, jackets and hats.

They did quite well keeping us from freezing while we were walking, but they were less effective once we stopped.

The show started a little after 9 a.m., with a replay of the concert from the day before. At some point, the rerun turned into a live feed of all the important people arriving at the Capitol for the ceremony.

The camera focused on stars and politicians as they worked their way to their seats. When very important people were announced upon their arrival, everyone was there for this very American spectacle.

Then the day's official program began and before long, the skinny kid with the funny name and the improbable path to greatness was saying, "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear. ..."

And the rest was history. The crowd roared and danced arm in arm in approval.

I thought President Obama gave a great speech that outlined his plans for restoring our country to greatness and expressed his methods for governing that would be bi-partisan, transparent and would reinstitute the Constitution as law.

Most folks I talked to were quite impressed and pleased with the amount of detail given and number of subjects covered.

But then it happened - a little post-ecstasy depression. Maybe it was the fact that the immediate goal was accomplished - everything people had hoped for and prayed for and dreamed of was real - or maybe it was the harsh reality of seemingly insurmountable challenges facing our country's leaders, or maybe it was just that it was bleeping cold and it seemed like a million people were trying to get into the same train station as we were.

I don't know if others felt it or not, but I felt a little lost, wondering where we (the people and Obama supporters) would go from here.

I was, however, heartened and re-encouraged the next couple of days to see President Obama in the Oval Office, hard at work making decisions, issuing executive orders, and making changes that would make the United States a better place.

Considerable time has passed, and now the reality of Santa Clarita is beginning to take a toll on my euphoria.

I ran into a local citizen at the market the other day and told him about my inauguration experience. I knew he was a Republican but didn't think he was one of those ultra-partisan ones who can't say anything nice about any Democrat in power.

This man has been active in the community and was trying to accomplish some significant changes in the city. We have been on the same side on several issues, so I was most surprised to hear this "patriot" say that there was nothing good he could say about the new president or the new presidency.

He seemed to be echoing Rush Limbaugh's and some other Republican reprobates' desire to see President Obama fail.

What kind of political party wants to see our country fail? What kind of American citizen wants to see our country fail? What kind of human being wants to see more Americans suffer for political self-righteousness?

Fortunately, Barack Obama wants to include all Americans, even Republicans, in the process. Too bad some folks only want to inject partisan negativity into every discussion.

I think most Americans want to, and will, give our new president a chance to solve the problems facing our country. He needs our support to accomplish his goals. He needs the support of Republicans and Independents and Democrats to accomplish his goals.

After 9/11, the country and the world came together and gave George Bush a chance. Unfortunately, that didn't work out too well.

But Barack Obama is an entirely different kind of leader. Now it's time to give him a chance.

Bruce McFarland serves on numerous Santa Clarita Valley charitable and political organizations and represent the 17th Senatorial District at the California and Los Angeles County Democratic Party. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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