I felt a range of emotions this week at a depth I hadn’t previously experienced.  Disappointment in the flaws of our great democracy.  Grateful for living during a historic and admirable presidency.   Fear of a megalomaniac assuming the role of the most powerful leader of the free world.  Hope for the future inspired by a coalition of action.  These feelings are valid.  As are any you’ve experienced this week.

A More Perfect Union

constitutionnoun – the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it

The constitution was written to secure our rights and establish our liberty in an effort to pursue a more perfect union.  Pursue. A. More. Perfect. Union.  Our founding fathers acknowledged that their newly formed republic was not perfect, so they established a framework of government to insure the rights of its citizens.  A government that gives their people a voice through elected offices.  A separation of powers that ensures checks and balances within the government.  The made a document flexible to grow with the country, but defined enough to lay the groundwork of a successful government.  Law of the land, established by precedent when challenged.  They established a form of government that was revolutionary in its time, and is admired around the world to this day.  But not one without flaws, as a perfect union is nearly impossible.

This election exposed some of our flaws, which has disappointed me.  The founding fathers had the foresight to establish provisions to prevent any one person or group from having too much control over the nation.    Provisions such as supreme court nomination hearings, the electoral college, and congressional approval of cabinet members.  The supreme court has an odd number for a reason. I am disappointed that congress never held a hearing for Merrick Garland, breaking precedent for political gain.  I’m sure if the founding fathers anticipated this manipulation of the law, they would have written a provision that would have required a hearing within a reasonable time frame.

I am disappointed that the role of the electoral college has become purely ceremonial.  Political parties appoint delegates as a way to honor the important members of their party.  The founding fathers didn’t fully trust the people to make the right choice, so they established delegates to represent the interests of their state just in case their people got it wrong.  In theory it helped with states getting fair representation in deciding who would be president, which helped small states and rural areas.  It also took some control from the people in case they made a mistake.  It never quite worked as intended, and has become outdated.  It has evolved into a luncheon to honor the big deals of the political party, a pomp and circumstance routine.  Most years, this is fine, except the provision was made for this exact situation, but we are too far gone to realistically ever change the electoral college out come.

I am disappointed with GOP controlled congress double standard when it comes to the president’s cabinet confirmations.  Putting politics before the people they serve by not properly vetting the nominees.  Breaking precedent again for political gain.

Thanks to breaking precedents, complacency of our citizens, failure to compromise and political games like gerrymandering, the balance in the branches of our government is lost.  Without the balances that keep our country in check, our government doesn’t run as intended.  I have faith that there is enough checks and balances in our system to keep America great. Not to mention the power of the people who can bring balance by reminding politicians who they represent, and by voting them in or out when they no longer serve their constituents.  Our country has a history of challenges, and we the people have the rights, liberties, and laws to overcome obstacles that get in the way of our pursuit of a more perfect union.

Thanks, Obama

oratornoun – one distinguished for skill and power as a public speaker

When Obama took office 8 years ago, I was 23, a college senior, and had no job hopes on the horizon.  The economy was bottoming out from the housing crisis.  My degree in Civil Engineer was supposed to guarantee a well-paying job, but the industry is largely driven by development and developers weren’t developing.  I had never followed an election as closely as I did Obama’s historic win.  His inauguration filled me with much hope for the future; as it did for so many others.  Such contrast to the inauguration this weekend, which was unprecedented for different reasons.  I was still looking for a job at the end of 2009, even giving a stab at manual labor by working for UPS loading packages onto 18-wheelers during the Christmas rush.  (I’m not cut out for manual labor.)  I finally got a real engineering job in April 2010 and found myself unemployed again in December when the office closed, a result of the industry still suffering from the economic downturn.  I was able to avoid poverty by collecting unemployment. Thanks to Obamacare, I was able to be put back on my parents insurance plan.  This allowed me to get my final shot for the HPV vaccine before I turned 26, the age that disqualifies you from getting the vaccine.  Something I wouldn’t have done without insurance.  I could tell the economy was turning around by June 2011 when I got 6 different job interviews in the same month, and secured my 2nd job out of college.  I was benefiting from the natural gas fracking boom.  An energy industry that actually flourished under Obama due to it being a cleaner-burning, domestically-available fuel source.  Natural Gas was an important resource for his energy independence goals.  I morally hated it because of the risk to clean water supplies, but it was a stable job, and gave me enough experience to be picky with my next move to my current job.  Now, eight years after graduation and at the end of President Obama’s service, I have a job that I love, that pays me well enough to cover my student loans and allow for savings, and that provides my health insurance.

My story is not remarkable compared to many tear-jerker you hear.  I am very fortunate, and I do have a degree of privilege from being raised in an upper middle class family. I haven’t been turned away because of my health. I haven’t lived in poverty.  I haven’t been pulled over by a cop because of my skin color.  I haven’t had to attend a flagged drapped funeral of a soldier killed in action.  I haven’t wanted to marry someone who the law said I couldn’t.  I haven’t had to use the services of Planned Parenthood. I haven’t had my family members deported, or denied a visa or citizenship.  But I have known people who have needed these rights, and will always advocate for the liberties of all those who are denied them.

Obama has defended our rights in a difficult political climate and deserves a thank you.

  • Thanks Obama, for bringing our country out of the great recession.
  • Thanks Obama, for battling congress on policies that promote the general welfare of the citizens you serve.
  •  Thanks Obama, for reforming healthcare.
  • Thanks Obama, for finally killing Osama Bin Laden.
  • Thanks Obama, for allowing gays to fight openly in the Army and integrating women in combat roles.
  • Thanks Obama, for supporting the rights for people to marry whoever they love, regardless of gender, and for being an advocate for the LGBT rights in general.
  • Thanks Obama, for advocating for women, and putting two of them in the Supreme Court.
  • Thanks Obama, for pardoning reformed prisoners from their excessive drug related sentences.
  • Thanks Obama, for using your executive powers for the benefit of our immigrants, and maintaining our tradition as a nation of immigrants.
  • Thanks Obama, for reopening the boarders to Cuba, I can’t wait to go.
  • Thanks Obama, for establishing 33 national monuments, more than any other president.
  • Thanks Obama, for being a great orator and delivering so many speeches that brought me to tears of happiness.
  • Thanks, Obama, for not being afraid of your singing voice.
  • Thanks, Obama, for largely avoiding scandal.
  • Thanks Obama, for putting up with our back handed congress.
  • Thanks Obama, for protecting the Constitution.
  • Thanks Obama’s, for being a role models to us all.

Thank you, Mr. Obama, thank you.

Commander-in-chief

megalomania – noun – a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur

I think if Obama could take back one thing during his presidency, it would have to be the 2011 Correspondence Dinner roast of the man who lead the attacks on the legitimacy of his citizenship.  President Obama tore his rival down with great humor and comedic timing.  Embarrassed his rival so badly that he seeked revenge for being mocked in front of a huge crowd. The best revenge?  Take the keys to the White House from the black man who publicly embarrassed him in front of all the press.  His ego grew with his TV show.  He ended Season 14 of the Apprentice in 2015, and a few months later announced his long shot campaign for the White House.  Ultimately, a successful campaign that blindsided America, including the man who won himself.

You may have noticed that I am trying my hardest to not use the new president’s name.  He gets power from the use of his name.  Its his main business.  I do think the media is at fault for the overuse of his name.  Giving him more air time, more free advertising supporting both his political campaign and his brand.  His name is his life, it’s the thing he values most.  He validates himself every time his name is spoken, written, reported, tweeted, protested.  He only sees one word, his last name, that is the one word I will attempt to not use for the duration of his presidency.  I will call him the president, the commander-in-chief, POTUS, @potus, Mr. President, Clinton’s Opponent, Obama’s Successor, Ivanka’s Father, Putin’s Puppet, he, the megalomaniac, that guy Alec Baldwin plays on SNL, and any other term or context that helps me avoid using his moneymaker.

Anyway, so when I found out that Clinton was defeated, I was defeated.  I felt a fear that I never truly felt before.  I wrote a list of my fears and put them in a box.  It’s a box that I bought from an Amish roadside stand when I got lost on a dirt road while driving through Indiana on a road-trip.  When you slide the lid open, a spider jumps out and hits your finger.  It scares you when you least expecting it.  I felt it was appropriate spot for the list of my fears from my initial instincts from the election results.  I intend to open the box at the end of his presidency, and see whether he proved me wrong or not.  But this Friday, those fears rose to the surface again. It rained the day after the election, and Mother Nature cried again and left us in a fog again this weekend. If I thought too hard about it, the fear made me cry.  I distracted myself by work.  I could have easily streamed it in the background, but I did not want to give him the viewership.  All I wanted to see was the empty mall in comparison with Obama’s inauguration.  Which I did, and it was satisfying.  I did eventually check out clips.  I saw Bush struggling with his poncho, Michelle’s showing it all on her face, Kellyanne Conway’s ridiculous outfit, and that tiny hand on two Bibles.  Which by the way, still bothers me that Presidents don’t swear on the constitution. I finally brought myself to check out his speech.  It was scary, but I saw this article that compared past presidential inaugural speeches, and some how Trump actually used more positive words than Obama’s first inaugural speech (Obama’s second was a victory lap, so that positivity was in a different league.)  However, his speech used words like carnage, and that evokes fear.  I hope to God he proves me wrong.  I do want him to be successful.  Because the one thing I fear more right now is a Mike Pence presidency and the GOP controlled congress with a looming empty supreme court seat and a number of older judges.  I fear that the foundation of the delicate world order has been undermined.   My one hope is that we the people always rise up to the occasion.  And that is why America is already great.

Women’s March on the World

coalition noun – a temporary alliance of distinct parties, persons, or states for joint action

Before the march happened, I heard some people say that the movement lacked a cohesive vision.  Too many view points, too many different messages.  But what I saw on Saturday was a coalition coming together and the start of a powerful movement.  A diverse alliance united in solidarity for their neighbor.  A common goal of fighting for our Equal Rights, our Women’s Rights, our Civil Rights, our LGBTQ Rights, our Immigrants’ Rights, our Children’s Rights, our Human Rights.  We exercised our freedom to assembly on a worldwide scale.  I was just hoping to see women go to DC and outnumber the amount of people who attended the inauguration. Not only did we shatter the size of the inaugural crowd (we know, size matters), we came out in droves across the nation.  Marches turned into rallies, since the march routes filled to a standstill.  People were united and supportive.  Moreover, it was peaceful, it set an example of how to protest, it gave all walks of life a voice.  (I suspect the high estrogen to testosterone ratio does help mitigate violence and promote listening and communicaiton.)  Farther away, a diverse group of humans assembled all around the world.  I couldn’t find a picture of Moscow, but a few years ago they did it in their own way as the Russians do. Nearly every other country had some support for the movement.  From France, the county that taught us how to be revolutionaries, to Australia, the Land of Oz whose worldwide influence has earned its other nickname “Little America”, every continent, from the heat of the African equator in Kenya to the cold and ice of Antarctica.  It reminded me that the world looks to us as a model, and wants us to succeed.  Our success is their success. The whole day filled me with hope for our future.  I want to be the change you see in the world.

I want to acknowledge the road that was laid before us.  This is not a new fight.  We’ve been through this for hundreds of years.  The suffragettes marched in the “Woman Suffrage Procession” of 1913 before Woodrow Wilson’s Inauguration.  It’s symbolic that the Saturday’s march fell on my moms birthday.  My mother has fought the norms since the 60s and 70s.  She  graduated with a chemistry degree from the first female class at Lehigh.  She tried very hard to be an engineer, but that was still out of reach for many woman.  She traveled the world, she owned a car and a house, and didn’t get married until her mid-thirties.  I joked with her that the worst part of her birthday this year is that she had to put on a bra to go to dinner.  She screamed, “I did! But there is not a snowballs chance in hell I’m wearing one tomorrow.”  At the same time there are those who have been marching for civil rights for centuries. Harriet Tubman and the supporters of the Underground Railroad.  The martyrs from events of “Bloody Sunday “of 1965 during the Selma to Montgomery Marches.  The Million Man March of 1995.  And most recently the Black Lives Matter Movement.  And for those who have fought for gay rights since the AIDS epidemic.  Their movement throws one hell of a parade in support of their cause on a yearly basis.

What made this march  special, was that it united voices that have been quieted in the noise of extremist. This was the start of an alliance that makes us stronger together.  It brought together these movements into a coalition united in solidarity for one another. It also gave a space for quieter voices like immigrates, Native Americans, and Muslims. Women’s rights are human rights. All genders, all races, all nationalities, all creeds are welcomed and loved.  Keep the momentum going, get involved, stay woke, and always vote.  We got this.

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