Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This day in history

We officially have a new President, ostensibly -- hopefully -- to lead our country to better days...at least, better than they are right now. This is a truly historic day, but of course it isn't just because we have a new President. It's historic because of the incidental fact our new President is of partly African ethnicity. (You don't want to know what I've read from some fools who aren't satisfied with that, that he isn't black enough. Chances are you might have come across those comments here and there online.)

That incidental fact alone of his ethnicity, many say, is alone reason for hope.

I hope you'll pardon me but I don't hope based on politics. Or incidental facts. Or on this massive advertisement for better days called Inauguration Day.

My thoughts turn dark and very cynical when it comes to politics. I wouldn't be overstating the fact to say I hate politics and what they've done to the process of electing one person or another to a given office. And politics have only gotten worse since the 1950's, since television (love it or hate it) began showing up in American living rooms.

Today, strangely enough, I got to watch something on cable as I ignored all of the fanfare, pomp and circumstance of Washington after Barack Obama was sworn in. "A Face in the Crowd", 1957, wasn't exactly appropriate viewing considering we're supposed to be so optomistic today, but if you want to see how politics and advertising (one and the same thing) really work it's required viewing. It predicted that image would become more important than the message, and those with the most money decided who got the most television exposure. Money, political and corporate, decided that Andy Griffith's Lonesome Rhodes would become a power -- a would-be President-maker -- in his own right, and he has never been scarier.

And that's the reality of politics in the modern day. Image and money, from special interests and big business, is what talks. Or at least approves the speeches and charts the course of campaigns. Bullshit walks.

The irony that our new President's swearing in comes the day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday hasn't been ignored. I definitely haven't ignored it, or one of the greatest lessons he had to teach us:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."

No one voted for Barack Obama just because he was black, and the incidental fact that he is black shouldn't matter in the context of his being President. One great man dreamed that character would be judged before one's skin color one day...but according to our political process, now more than ever, it's how one looks when they make their speeches that must be judged. But hopefully, even though the political process I've learned to hate brought him to the highest office in our country, I hope that his character will shine through and indeed bring our nation to better days.

Good luck to you, Mister President.

Good luck to all of us.

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