Although the issue of race has been a defining element of the election of Mr. Obama, for many of us this inauguration is not about the swearing-in of the first minority or African-American President. This inauguration represents something much greater and bigger than mere issues of black and white. The ascendancy to the highest office in the land by Mr. Obama is for me, and millions of others, a keystone event in the history of this country because on January 20th 2009 this nation stood upon the precipice of a converging of several mountains of disaster. The last eight years have witnessed an administration that has held the very foundation of this country, the Constitution, in utter contempt.
The economic crisis, the crisis of believing that we can actually win a war against abstract ideals rooted in a millennium of concrete evil and misunderstanding, and the larger crisis of accepting that the Constituional powers of a single man should be unchecked and not subject to the oversight engendered by the balance of powers framed with foresight by our Founding Fathers, are all related to the misplaced conception that America should have fought a revolution against aristocratic rule over 200 years just so we could revert back to such a state of lapsed and absentee rule.
The inauguration of Mr. Obama is not special and unique because of the color of his skin, but rather, to paraphrase Dr. King, the content of his character. The problems of this country faced by Pres. Obama on the afternoon of January 20 will not be solved easily nor they will be solved quickly. What is important to understand is that it is only through the rejection of antiquated ideas that are antagonistically applied to the very basis of what America was intended to represent that those problems can be solved. This inauguration means the reintroduction, after eight long years, of a government in Washington that is responsive to the rule of law not just as it applies to others, but as it applies them.
America deserves a President and Cabinet that immediately tests its policies against the tenets of the Constitution rather than one that is so contemptuous that our Chief Executive refers to that stirring document in profane words as just “a goddam piece of paper.” Watching Mr. Obama inaugurated as President should not make one swollen with pride simply because this country elected a man whose skin happens to brown; the collective being of America should be swollen with pride because it will be the inauguration of a return to the foundational principles upon which the radical concept of America as an idea was constructed. This new President represents America’s best hope to push aside the ravages of decency that have been the rule in the Oval Office for the last eight miserable, hopeless years.