Saturday, January 19, 2013
The significances of Obama's 2nd inaugural to me
I have been pretty hard on President Barack Obama in my diary in the past year and I will continue to be in the next year.
My next diary will call on him to veto the $500 million the UN is planning to give Syrian President Bashar Assad and a future diary, already in the works, will show, in the kind of detail I provided in Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad, how, while leading the most powerful nation in NATO, he hung back when it came to using that power in defense of the Libyan people,
But today I am cheering what may be his most important accomplishment -> getting elected to a second term.
It is most fitting that we celebrate President Barack Obama's second inauguration on the same day we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The reason that I think this is so important, is that quite apart from Obama's various personal strengths and shortcomings as a leader, is that he is our first black president, and that is of historical importance.
I won't harp on the centrality of racism as a defect in a country largely built on the backs of black slaves and the land of the indigenous people. It should already be clear that after 200 years of so called democracy without a black president, there was glaring inconsistency.
Barack Obama's first term in the presidency changed that, but his second term seals the deal!
The election of a black president didn't signal an end to racism in this country, as some tried to claim. In fact, in some quarters, it became more virulent and entrenched, as an examination of some of the more extreme Republican tactics in the last election will quickly show.
With Obama's election to a second term it can truly said that the US finally elected a black president and the least that can be said about him is that he was no worst than any other president we've had and better than a lot, and the people have certified that by returning him to the White House for a second term.
Had he not been re-elected and instead the right-wing Republicans ruled the day, they would have continued to talk trash about Obama while they dismantled the good works he's done. I'm terribly afraid that the narrative they would have tried to create around the question of electing a black president would have been: "We tried that once. Remember..."
That can't happen now. We have a black president and in four more years we may have a woman president.
There have been many comparisons made between the Obama presidency and the Lincoln presidency, even I have made them in my diary before, and I would now like to make one more.
Lincoln's first term election got the ball rolling on ending slavery, and it ruptured the union.
His election to a second term ended slavery and saved the union.
In that sense, I think Lincoln's second presidential victory was more important than his first.
And so it is with Obama's.
Like Lincoln, he made the sometimes unsavory compromises necessary to win that crucial second term but he is free of those restraints now, What he does with it is up to him.