I set my alarm this morning for 7:00AM planning to get up and get out to collect my tickets to the inauguration. A foreign bed and sick kids conspired against me and left me groggy when the alarm went off. For some reason I figured that there probably wasn’t going to be that big of a crowd when I managed to get down to the congressional office buildings, so I went back to sleep.
Standing in the subway at 10:00AM, I fully realized how wrong I was. In the dimly lit D.C. Metro, you realize the precariousness of your situation when there are thousands of others packed into a small space waiting to get out. I eyed possible escape routes (jump off the railing? parkor up the walls?) while I held any traces of claustrophobia back. Eventually I emerged from the Capitol South station into the bitter cold air of a Washington January day.
The lines snaked around the respective congressional office buildings to get through security. Due to security or scalping, there was a decision somewhere that ordered the majority of 250,000 tickets to be distributed on one day. Although I have never waited in longer lines, what was odd about the spectrum of people standing with me is that everyone had a big grin on their face. Nary an angry or impatient comment was heard. I had been waiting the past eight years for this moment, another 24 hours wasn’t going to hurt. What I realize now is that others had been waiting decades, if not the entire history of the United States for the affirmation of equality and freedom that will occur tomorrow. I am fortunate to be present.
This Sunday, at 8am, I will be appearing on Chris Vanocur’s show “On the Record” on KTVX, channel 4. The topic will be the use of the Internet in this political season.
Please join me next Tuesday, the 21st in welcoming Senator Jon Tester from Montana for a reception benefiting the Obama Victory Fund.
I have been reluctant to endorse a presidential candidate up until this time because I think the way our primary system works is utterly messed up. Seeing candidates drop out of the race after 124,000 people caucus in Iowa is not broad democracy in any sense. However, Utah’s primary is next Tuesday and I think now that it is down to two, it is time to make a public choice.
In Barack Obama’s first term, he sponsored a bill that required more transparency on government bids and earmarks. It creates a website that documents government contracts, grants, earmarks, and loans and allows them to be searched and openly inspected by the public. Accountability through technology was a key plank of my 2006 campaign and I was pleased to see Senator Obama write this bill and get it passed. He also took responsibility for transparency in his own office by disclosing his own earmark requests. Regardless of where I end up, the American public is going to continue to demand transparency in order take back the reins of government from wealthy interests. The fact that a first term senator made a major difference was also affirming.
As president, I believe Barack Obama will return accountability to the Whitehouse and international respect to the United States. I will be voting for him on Tuesday the 5th.