Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's a new day

Perhaps I am the only blogger who didn't post on the momentous and historical occasion yesterday. However, you won't begrudge me forgiveness when you learn that I scored reservations at the posh (does anyone use that word anymore?) 21 Club for restaurant week (a week of discounts at select uber-fancy restaurants), and was busy indulging in game terrine, braised beef, and a half-bottle of shiraz all night. And then promptly falling into a satisfying, full-belly stupor upon my return home.

That said, I am glad that I waited to post, because today I realized that I feel something different than what I felt yesterday. Yesterday I felt proud, excited, almost giddy. For the first time in my adult life, I was actually proud of my government. When President Obama danced with his wife, I wanted to dance along in my living room. Today, however, I felt something different: Safe.

I realized that for the first time in eight years, this country is controlled by a competent, qualified person. A person who earned his position, rather than inheriting it from daddy. A person who is educated. A person who recognizes the importance of serving the disenfranchised of the nation. A person who can read (read this Vanity Fair piece. People were asked to avoid giving Bush long memos, because he's "not a big reader." This among other, more serious travesties, like, um, ignoring 9/11 warnings?).

This administration is not interested in forcing the tenants of conservative Christianity on the masses (shout-out to "non-believers" in the inaugural speech, anyone?). It does not want to tell me what to do with my uterus. It does not want to serve the interests of the wealthy, or large corporations, or the oil industries before the interests of the people. It does not want to start frivoulous wars. It does not want to model this country off of the plot of The Handmaid's Tale.

Already we have seen change, and it's only been a day. President Obama ordered Guantanamo closed within the year. He showed support for Roe V. Wade on its anniversary today, stating that it "not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters." He is expected to reverse the "global gag rule" that banned US aid to organizations that perform abortions or refer women to abortion clinics. He started talks with his national security team to pull troops out of Iraq in 16 months.

But there's more. The Obama administration website has been overhauled, and there is an entire "agenda" section that clearly states future plans, organized by categories such as "poverty" and "civil rights." Some of my favorite highlights:
President Obama and Vice President Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. (side note: as I write this, the senate has just passed Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We got this shit locked down). They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

President Obama and Vice President Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.

President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
There are more promises. Clear-as-day promises, in 24 categories. President Obama has four years to make good on them. I am not naive enough to believe that he will fulfill every single one. I am not naive enough to think that he will always make decisions with which I agree. But I know what I saw today from the Obama administration. I saw potential. For now, that's enough to make me feel like an American.


Lucy said...

I love inauguration day and the beginning of a new Presidency. It always has the feeling of hope and togetherness. The country needs that right now!

Herding Cats said...

I love that he is already on top of things. It truly gives me hope.

Herding Cats said...

By the way, now that I successfully tried to publish I comment, I have to say that I've tried to comment A LOT the past few entries but sometimes your safety code thing doesn't work. Just fyi - I'm sure it has happened to others as well. ;)

Phoebe Caulfield said...

hmm, thanks for the FYI. I'm not sure what's up with that, please let me know if it persists.

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