Ten Years Ago Today: Barack Hussein Obama Becomes President of the United States
As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah (God) Be Upon You
Ten years ago today, Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address as the 44th President of the United States of America. Seems like a different universe from the reality of the Office of the Presidency of the US presently.
The turnout to elect Obama President was enormous! The children of many of those young and older adults are now 10 years older. It is stated that a tide is being turned right now in which (if the hackers and electoral cheating were to be eradicated out of the election process) the future for the GOP and right wing politics does not look good for the future-- young people are more liberal now than Conservative like some of their parents. Maybe; maybe not.
But, really? As a youth/teen in the 60s, and a voting adult in the 70s (18 year olds became eligible to vote via the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution in an extension of the Voting Rights Act in 1970) the first President, I contend, to benefit from an invigorated youthful voting population of that era was James Earl (Jimmy) Carter, a former graduate student in Nuclear Physics at Union College with some time served in the Navy. He had endured a failed candidacy for Governor of Georgia. However, he was also a down to Earth peanut farmer from Georgia. Notwithstanding that Nixon, who attained the office of POTUS in 1968 (after having served as a Vice -President, thereafter losing the 1960 election to John F. Kennedy) following Lyndon Johnson's (POTUS, Dem. 1963-1968) decision not to run for re-election. It is worth exploring the issues that plagued the Democratic platform and convention in 1968, a year in which fifty years ago was indeed a turning point for the US. Nixon campaigned against George McGovern, a democratic Senator from So. Dakota whose platform called for an immediate end to the devastating Vietnam War. Nixon won in 1968 and the 1972 election as the incumbent. Watergate ended Nixon's presidency after close to two years of lunacy in the office and investigation after investigation (like we are now experiencing with Trump) for issues related to his campaign. Nixon preferred to resign rather than to become impeached and likely knew in advance that Gerald Ford, his Vice-President and successor was going to pardon him. Yet, look at what Jimmy Carter, a Democrat who won the 1976 election has done for the US and for the humanity of people around the world since his one term in office. Jimmy Carter encouraged people to read the Holy Qur'an during the Iranian revolution of 1979 that involved 52 US citizens (designated as hostages) held in Iran for 444 days. The campaign of Ronald Reagan manipulated the foreign affairs negotiation process and release of the US hostages to not occur until after the election of 1980 when he defeated Carter. Reagan announced their release on the day of his inauguration on January 20, 1981. Trump's candidacy is not the first that employed techniques and tactics that were injurious to the electoral process and skirted the intelligence and knowledge of America's voting citizens (among others).
The point is... those youthful Americans born in the mid 1950s are today's Baby Boomers. They lived the history recounted above. In the election of 2008, a little more than ten years ago, along with an excited movement of Gen X/Y aka Millennials, US Sen. Barack Hussein Obama, who by name and complexion many believed to be an impossibility to become POTUS, became just that.
Prior to the 2008 election, Baby Boomers had laid low in 2000 when the election was stolen from Al Gore via "hanging chads" in Florida where the eventual POTUS (GOP) candidate George W. Bush's brother Jeb Bush was Governor (GOP). Again, in 2004 when there were already shenanigans going on with voting machines i.e., Diebold in Ohio and potentially elsewhere in the US likely caused Kerry the Presidential election. It is apparent, if not clear, that the GOP has been operating to steal elections in order to win Presidential office in the past. Obama's campaign understood what had happened in the prior two elections and knew that only a massive turnout of excited voters would result in his becoming the victor. And with finesse, Obama along with a cadre of professionals, small dollar donors and the purposeful use of social media campaigning accomplished elective office as POTUS twice. The first African American to become President (some dispute this, not that Obama was not African American; leaving you to do the research on why: hint: JA Rogers) of the United States.
The US is in the gutter now with Trump, the upended GOP, the Electoral College (read the history on how and why it came about), Russian manipulation in US elections, corporate media excesses before and after Citizens United and capitalist profiteers all having been involved over the last 40 years, at least, in taking the country back to a place where leadership that was making inroads globally can disconnect from it. When Nixon went to China to so-called "open doors" it was about capitalism not about making new friends (and who is eating the US' lunch now?) At least, efforts to protect the environment, less so to stop the "stupid" wars that Obama appeared to be against but supported in ways some would have thought unthinkable once he was in office remain critical issues going unaddressed. Multi-nationalism, as it was referred to in the 70s was about resources the US lacks and where they could be found. In the mid-70s there were projections that the US was going to become predominantly "brown" by 2050-- the projection at that time which has now been updated to 2040, so it is not surprising that the progress of the 50s and 60s civil rights movement and its gains have been rolled back as if part of a stealth mission in the last two years under Trump. The neo-cons and the old regimental GOP has gelled together to tear stuff apart and they have not been kidding around about it.
Today, however, to look back on what Obama stated after he took the oath of office of POTUS, about which the same oath that has not changed appears to mean little to nothing to the current President who has done things in the office of POTUS that Obama would have NEVER been allowed to even attempt to do (and knew better than to try or he would have been attacked viciously) is an appreciation of an America that is still possible. In 2008, people of every persuasion came together thinking about hope and change in America.
How the Trump/GOP presidency will end, no one knows at this time. Allah (swt) knows best. As someone who somewhat became disappointed in Obama, realizing his limitations while President-- it can be stated without a doubt, that he is seriously (and sorely) missed. Those who elected him, all Americans with the exception of the current 1-3% of the population who are benefiting significantly from the major tax cut of 2018 were in a better place then than currently. We remember and know what that America was like, albeit not close to the "perfection of this union," President Obama used to refer to. There are enough Americans still, and children of those Americans and others residing in this country who can remember the tenure of President Obama i.e., the lack of drama, lies, insecurity and pomposity for the course of eight years of his service to America. And it was indeed service-- his hair greyed like it was all the fashion though he was a young man when he entered office in 2009 reaching his 50th birthday while in his 2nd term.
Some of those youthful Americans from the 60s and 70s mentioned earlier who were busy fighting (on campuses and in organizations and in government and via the courts) for this country to break from its war mentality and racist policies-- became the Wall Street tycoons and real estate magnates/monopolizers we see ravaging the economy of America presently. Was it money that changed them or were they swayed by ugly and often ignorant and unprincipled language (rhetoric) that was hastened along and repeated ad nauseam via the growth of social media (controlled mainstream media included) and technology that heretofore had not existed so much so until the tenure of G W Bush? After the stolen election of 2000, an element in America tore into the more decent and democratic principles held by this nation at the time. Bill Clinton had helped to undermine the office of POTUS and soiled it a bit during his presidency and Newt Gingrich, his GOP counter puncher was abominable during the mid-90s, but Gore would have made for a much better President than W. Gore should not have conceded the race as he did persuaded that an orderly transition of government was more important. He should have fought the unusual media initiated contention of his election from Day One. Gore has admitted to being the example of what a tampered with election culminates in, since. Let it not go unsaid, as a result of that election that Bush (W) and his GOP cabal brought the US the costly and scatterbrained war that is still being fought 17 years later in many regions of the world.
Want to feel good about something today (after reading the reflection above of the last 50 political years in America)? Go to the page of Obama's 2008 Inaugural speech transcript at the New York Times and read it and the comments from readers shared 10 years ago. What optimism and hope is easily expressed and shared! Obama's election changed America. Some argue for the best and for the worst. Some say that Obama is the reason why Trump is in office now (and not only because Obama ridiculed Trump embarrassingly at the White House Correspondents Dinner of 2011). The growth of White Supremacy in American society is likely more the reason how Trump arrived (notwithstanding that 53% of white women voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton, a woman in 2016).
America needs change again and now! But, will any of the impending Presidential candidates for the 2020 presidential election be.... trustworthy? President Obama was not a Muslim, as he was falsely assigned in attempts to malign him, but he definitely had imprinting from his exposure to Islam as a youth. Obama also had a Mother who was an absolute Progressive for her time, al-hamdulillah.
This year, 2019 is the year that millennials will top the number of Baby Boomers in the voting population of the US. Millennials may not have as much money or do as well as their parents did financially (while some will as a result of a tech economy where start-ups are created by young entrepreneurs), but it is their future and that of their children (Baby Boomers' grandchildren and even great-grandchildren) who will depend so much upon what kind of America this nation becomes after Trump. Please see the Pew Research data after reading the transcript of former President Obama's Inaugural speech. It is quite interesting.
There are links at the side of President Obama's Inauguration transcript found here if you'd like to watch Obama deliver the address via video or listen to the audio version of it. It is a trip down memory lane; kind of like a jolt from today's political pain during a government shutdown that is severely hurting a lot of people after 30 days.
Saying, "And, God Bless America," stated always at the end of political speeches has always kind of bothered me. If the rest of the world goes into an abyss, what good will it be to be in America? We share the same planet and everyone senses a strong will to survive. Insha'Allah, we will learn how to survive together or the world will be imperiled for everyone. We will have earned what we deserved if we won't/don't or cannot change. In time.
May Allah (swt) help us and bring us back to a sound and conscientious America that embraces all people of the world and speaks to the humanity of engaging the global reality that faces us all. Ameen (Be It So).