The Change Is Going To Do Me Good

At what point did the inauguration “get” you?

You know, at what point did the whole spectacle of that whole thing last Tuesday get to you in that break-down-sobbing “There’s hope for this country after all” kind of mood, where you clutch to your loved ones and look around at the world with new eyes? At what stage along the way did it finally get to you–that rush of release at the personal sensation of having an immense weight lifted off of our national karma? Did that happen for you?

Got me about the third day, I clearly remember the moment.

Understand I am a professional cynic. I don’t give-in easily to the idea of trust or hope in my government. As a child of the 50s, I’ve been lied to by said government about the Kennedy assassination, the King assassination, the other Kennedy assassination, and oh yes, the Kennedy assassin at Chappaquiddick, and that’s just the Ks.

Vietnam, Cambodia, (nukes, oil, banks, sex, drugs, AND rock n roll), Russia, China, Watergate, Chile, Afghanistan, South America, Central America, the Schools of the Americas, Iran-Iraq, Iran-Contra, Star Wars, the S& L Crisis, the Gulf War, Gulf War Syndrome, New Taxes or the lack thereof, Clinton’s Women, and on and on; and all that was last century before the real pros took over. As the man says, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” And that slave rapist was supposedly one of the good guys.

So, despite the inauguration fever all around me, I was slow to embrace the possible joys of living under an actually democratically elected well-intentioned leader as opposed to the mass murdering kleptocrat I’d been enduring. I was duly awed at the sight of a million and a half people on the National Mall. So much happiness it was contagious. And, I admittedly took pleasure as I analyzed Obama’s speech with one of my classes to search for clues of intentions and condemnations and nodded at their admiration as they stared at the screen at a black man they wanted to be like who was not limited to doing something with a ball, swilling champagne while mumbling obscene rhymes, or capping someone’s ass with a nine. It felt real good, I admit it, but still—

The liberal in me had already tapped out a long laundry list of various Obama positions to be wary about. Still, I hummed along with my wife’s recurring mangling the “Obama, Obama” song as we watched ball-watching commentators gush. And I smiled proudly at my four year old granddaughter when she squealed with delight, “That man is Obama” as she pointed at the TV screen throughout the following days.

Then that Thursday night after watching my wife continue to pour over the newly Obama-fied website, I heard her gasp with excitement, “New executive orders!” as she leaned into the screen of her laptop with wonder.

Now, having been a frequenter of the Bush Whitehouse site while showing students how to write research papers over the last eight years and a peruser of Obama’s site, I could not recall ever having a moment like that when I felt such joy about any page I’d ever found. So I had to give a look.

And that’s where I got hooked. It was the Jan. 21st presidential records executive order that first set my heartstrings a-twittering. After clawing my way through the boiler plate I found this nugget in section 3 (b), “The Attorney General and the Counsel to the President, in the exercise of their discretion and after appropriate review and consultation under subsection (a) of this section, may jointly determine that invocation of executive privilege is not justified.”

For the first time in eight years I saw it written in plain English that someone with the power to do so might actually tell Bush “No.” That moved me I must say; but I think it was when I opened the agenda menu and read that the first item was Civil Rights, that I first realized I was falling in love.

End racial profiling, civil unions formalized and equalized, equal sentencing for all forms of cocaine? A president who not only knows what the term LGBT means and has an entire set of policies on LGBT issues beyond something along the lines of “Well, equal rights may be OK for some of us, but the Bible says them folks is sinners.” Was this to be an America I was familiar with?

When I scanned my way to the other end of the impressively long alphabetical list and saw the word “Women,” I was genuinely curious instead of smirking as I had whenever the words “Clinton” and “Women” were juxtaposed or, groaning as I had during the Bush years when the term “women” only came up in the GOP’s policy considerations as it related to ways to overturn Roe V. Wade.

The tears finally began to well when I opened the Immigration page. It opens with a quote from Obama’s senate days that ends with the line, “Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should.” — Barack Obama, Statement on U.S. Senate Floor, May 23, 2007. Instead of Bush’s stall, this felt like a good start on an under discussed ultra urgent issue. As I read through the details of how to deal with the millions of undocumented émigrés already with us I started to balk, till I looked again at the words “Bringing People Out of the Shadows.” There was something about the humanity in those words. Maybe I didn’t agree with some of his methods, but at least now there’s hope.

And in the instant I realized I was feeling hope in America because of my president, not in spite of him, that’s when I got “got” by that inauguration feeling and that’s the moment I cried.

They were stored up bitter tears. I’ve been grieving for my country a long time. The change is going to do me good.

Mikel Weisser teaches social studies and poetry on the left coast of Arizona. He can be reached at Read other articles by Mikel.

9 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 30th, 2009 at 10:20am #

    one cld have vaticinated that the world plutos wld restrict freedoms, lower wages, and even wage wars once the planet gets poorer.
    and the planet, the source of all our wealth, was never shared equally.
    it may never be shared equally; even peace/safety/security of some nations won’t be the same quallity as of the some other lands’.

    in this, maintainance of terror for some lands and keeping the working class dwn, world plutos are united like never before against their enemies.

    already many laws are evanescing/shifting; crimes by nations are lauded; plutos protected by large terrorist org’ns; nationalism going the way of the dodo bird, etcetc.
    yet the life on earth will end one day; it is an ergodic event; i.e., has zero chance of not occuring. thanx

  2. RG the LG said on January 30th, 2009 at 11:24am #

    Oh fiddle-dee-dee!

    The change may do some of us some good. But, if all that is REALLY nothing more than a return to the status quo ante, then what?

    O’Bama (our Irish President) has made it clear that the Empire will continue to support our surrogates (Israel) … and that imperial wars are going to continue (Afghanistan) … his economic policies are designed NOT to make changes, but rather to avoid collapse of an entirely corrupt system.

    What we really need is a REAL depression … one that will bring the elites down to the level of the $2 a day worker who makes the clothes on your (and my) back!

    Now THAT would be change I could live with.

    RG the LG

  3. bozh said on January 30th, 2009 at 3:01pm #

    i used to believe i was the stupidest person on earth; then i run into bush; it made my day. thnx

  4. blowin' in the wind said on January 30th, 2009 at 11:48pm #

    Well, Americans do repentence better than Mary Magdalene. In fact they do repentence precisely like Mary Masgdalene. But you’ve got to hold this guy’s feet to the fire starting with a no to the destabilization of Pakistan and the liquidation of the Gazan ghetto. More prophetic witness, less restored virginity!

  5. MrCynic3 said on February 1st, 2009 at 2:23pm #

    Mikel Weisser,

    Please don’t call yourself a cynic because yor are not.!!
    It is obvious you are seeing what you were looking for and not
    what is actually out there.
    There will be no change in Washington D.C. and business will be as
    usual there.
    Just look at obama choices for his cabinet. He picked the same people
    who got us in this mess to start with.
    Does gate for the defense Dept. look like a change for you??!!.
    Does Summer , Rubin and Geithner who engineered the deregulation
    of Wall St. that paved the way for the current economic debackle
    look like a change to you. These are the same people who got us in the current economic debackle.
    Does H. Clinton sound like a change to you.
    All you are getting is good oratory and make belief bull-shitting like
    closing Gitmo and keeping secret renditions and secret prison and not
    saying anything about trials for its inmates according to due process!!??
    Please stop your wishful thinking.

  6. mikel weisser said on February 1st, 2009 at 3:15pm #

    Yes, yes, yes, to all of you who have noted the reasons to remain wary and critical of Obama and thanks for writing. I admit it; it was unusual for me to write something positive about a US president. Forgive me; i’m going to blame it on intoxication.
    Like tens of millions of Americans and probably additional hundreds of millions around the world, i was particularly intoxicated on Tuesday Jan. 20, 2009. It was indeed the “Mission Accomplished” with an actual mission actually accomplished; there was no flight suit cod piece either.
    This next week’s piece intends to be about the choices of the bail-out package and their perpetuation of the status quo instead of a reshaping of the economic system which is possible and was ripe in this juncture. Obama could’ve sold the American public a lot of things, but he didn’t. So there are plenty of reasons to be critical and i shall be.
    However, last week the daily count of Bush reversals coming out of the Whitehouse WAS good news and after18 something years of trying to write something entertaining about our government while being disgusted with the actions of my president, it really seemed worth the challenge to try to describe my tapping into the positive wave that was coursing around our country and all over our planet that day.
    While i am a professional cynic, i am not a false one. To not acknowledge that sense of positivity on that day, that profound world feeling in my written record would have been false of me personally and untrue to history, like writing in 1969 and failing to mention men on the moon.
    I’ve been doing this since 1990 and to my values, and it seems the values of you readers, I, we, have justly been unhappy with much of what we hear out of our government. Right, left, many of us are pissed and with good reason over these last 8 years for sure. Once upon a time i enjoyed a brief honeymoon with Clinton that evaporated right around the scuttling of his “thermal tax,” but that was a long time ago.
    There is a potential strength in a country when its people can like its president as in 1930s America, but there is also potential terror as in 1930s Germany … or for that matter 2001-2005 America.
    I would like to like my president. At least like the things he does that i had liked in the first place–
    Blowin’ in the Wind is right BTW, this militarist foreign policy opening salvo of Obama’s is clear proof that peace activist work is far from done.

  7. Max Shields said on February 1st, 2009 at 3:21pm #

    mikel weisser

    Peace activists? And the planet is?

  8. The Angry Peasant said on February 1st, 2009 at 7:34pm #


    It’s easy to get your hopes up, my friend, but…well, don’t. Let’s not forget all the crooks, lobbyists and corporate duopoly mainstays Obama’s selected to run our lives for another humdiggity eight years. A few initial in-good-faith actions in his first week in office doesn’t mean Obama is anything other than what we’ve already seen. It sounds to me like good P.R. People by and large tend to remember the first things and the final things a president does, much like remembering the lyrics to a song. The first and last lines you always remember, but damn that second verse! So five months or two years from now, after Obama has screwed working people to the wall like he’s bound to, people will look back on his gracious gestures when he first took office and think he’s just the bee’s knees. I’m not going to fall into that trap like I did with Clinton. I just know too much now.

  9. Phil said on February 2nd, 2009 at 11:23am #

    All good things, all ages overdue. Great. But let’s not get carried away. This is still nothing close to Change We Can Believe In, let alone the change we really need.