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The Great Wave of Hope

January 20th, 2009


Amazing. No, stunning. As many as two million people have swarmed over the capitol, a sea of people, most of whom brave the cold and the crowds knowing that all they will see is an image on one of the large screens erected, but coming and staying nonetheless simply because they know that this is history in the making, and they want to say that they were there.

As Obama enjoys record pre-inauguration approval ratings, and has the support of the people in that they do not expects miracles nor do they expect everything to get better soon, these massive crowds can only act to cement Obama’s influence in Washington D.C. right now. In a city where numbers speak to greatest effect, this cannot fail to give a deep sense of pause and caution to the members of Congress in attendance: this president has the support of the people.

As much as the people are willing to be patient for solutions, I have a very strong feeling that they will not be supportive of obstructionism. They know that the problems we face will not be swept aside easily, and they are willing to bear down and suffer through tough times–but that does not mean that they will be OK if bill after bill is filibustered yet again by a Republican minority, as has happened for the past two years. If you recall, Trent Lott famously said, “The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.”

Well, after the 2008 elections, with Obama winning and Democrats making huge gains–again–in Congress, I don’t think obstructionism worked very well for them after all, did it?

With Republicans in Congress having the lowest ratings of anyone in Washington and Democrats enjoying much better numbers, with one more cycle of past Republican Senate wins ready to be swept clean and replaced with Democrats in 2010, with Obama being so astronomically popular–the Republicans may now obstruct at their substantial peril. Minimum wage hike, making a hard life barely livable for millions of hard-working Americans, blocked by Republicans? The ability of government health care agencies to use their buying power to negotiate lower drug costs, saving Americans billions of dollars, blocked by corporate-bought right-wing politicians? Improved health care, work bills, bringing soldiers home, closing Guantanamo, giving the middle class a long-awaited tax cut while the wealthy finally pay their share, shoring up Social Security–the list goes on and on. If the GOP believes that it can filibuster its way to popularity, then it is sadly mistaken.

One has the sense that things are going to get done. Whether they are enough, whether they will work, remains to be seen. But seeing this day as it unrolls, it is hard to imagine that things will not move.

Things will, for lack of a better or more appropriate word, change.


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  1. jose sueiro
    January 21st, 2009 at 12:00 | #1

    I was down there in that sea of humanity and it was wonderful to see. We were on the grounds of the Washington Monument and therefore couldn’t actually see the stage, but the Jumbotrons were fine and the sound was clear. What was exciting is that each time Bush came on the screen thousands and thousands booed. Some folks commented that was unkind. Funny, when the boos thundered down when Cheney came on the screen, nobody mentioned the unkindness of it or protested the booing.
    The crowd control was ridiculous. We walked from Adams Morgan about 2 miles away, but had to go completely around the downtown area from 18th St. west to 23rd and back east to 14th St. We walked the entire west side of the Mall and ended up very tired and cold. No balls for us tonight, just a coctail at a local night club in the neighborhood. You have no idea how many formally gowned and attired couples are out on the street.
    All in all an amazing day in DC.

  2. Luis
    January 22nd, 2009 at 09:28 | #2

    Jose, great to hear from you! Lucky you to be there at that time, I really envy you. Fantastic.

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