I went to a holiday party this weekend thrown by my friends Kate and Amy. They have it every year and it is always a great opportunity to catch up with old friends. And while the food, drinks and ambiance were fun and festive, the small talk had a different feel this year. When any group of young professionals get together “How is work going?” is usually one of the first questions asked, but this year the question was asked with hesitation. Many of the party goers had already lost their jobs and others feared that they would be next, myself included.
I was chatting with a friend who I always enjoy because she has opinions and is very passionate. I was saying how sad I was about my smart, hardworking friends getting laid off. I hadn’t turned on the news in the past couple days because I couldn’t bear to hear about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have also lost their jobs. “There is no hope” I said (not very positive, I know). My friend smiled and said proudly “Except for President Elect Obama”. And while I too am excited about our new president, I wondered aloud if Obama would remain a source of hope and inspiration to the country once he takes office.
There have only been a few presidents during my lifetime. I obviously have no recollection of how I felt while Reagan or the first Bush were in office. I was a teenager during the Clinton years but I can’t really remember how I felt about him either. My recollection is clouded by all the controversy that surrounded his presidency. So the only real frame of reference I have is George W. Bush and to say he has not been a source of hope and inspiration for me is an understatement. I pose this question to my older readers or to my younger readers who paid more attention growing up than me: Is it possible to be proud and uplifted by your President? I’m not talking about opinion polls or approval ratings. Lots of people will say they support the president, but what I am wondering is if the President of the United States is a figure that people can be excited about. Or is the president sort of like a high school principal. The student knows he has their best interest in mind but they all think he is kind of a jerk.
I know that we can be inspired by ex-presidents. Growing up I had a picture of the Lincoln Memorial hanging in my room (I was a dork) and I have always found Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats very moving. But is the love and respect we have for these great presidents a product of hindsight or is it possible to feel admiration for your current president while they are making the difficult decisions that affect your life right now.
While this may seem like a pessimistic post, I ask this question with optimistic anticipation for the answers I will receive. My hope is that while Obama is president during these unbelievably trying times he will continue to be viewed with the same excitement and hopefulness that he was on election night.
Today's song is the Dixie Chicks' I Hope, something we could all use these days. Enjoy!