Monday, January 19, 2009

The Presidency

For the first sixteen years of my life, I knew no President of the United States except Franklin Roosevelt. He was elected the year I was born, 1932, and remained President until his death, four terms later.

I do remember the day he died. I was a teenager, completely oblivious to the world of politics. I went down the street to buy myself an Italian hoagie for lunch. (For those who do not come from my corner of the world, a hoagie is probably called a submarine sandwich.) The little old Italian lady in the shop was behind the counter constructing a row of hoagies to fill a telephone order, and sobbing uncontrollably. I asked her what was wrong and between sobs she told me, "He's-a dead! He's-a dead! Ef-a Dee-a Rrrrrr!" I had heard him speak on the radio, and had seen him in the movies (No one I knew had a TV back then.), and I liked him, so I was saddened to hear this news.

I remained pretty much disinterested in politics for a long time. When I was twenty, in 1952, I was dating a boy named Bob. I remember a night after a date when we were sitting in my kitchen drinking coffee. He was very eager for Adlai Stevenson to be elected. Frankly, I could not have cared less, but I enjoyed a good argument, so was coming out as hotly for Dwight Eisenhower. Eventually I tired of the argument and told him, "Well it doesn't really matter. I'm not old enough to vote anyway." Bob nearly dropped his coffee cup and yelled, "You aren't 21?!" He said good-night, and I never saw Bob again. It didn't exactly break my heart. In fact, I was rather amused by the whole incident.

The next year I was old enough to vote. Since my father was a staunch Republican, who thought anyone claiming to be a Democrat was only a step away from treason, I of course registered as a Democrat. I remained a Democrat for many years. My husband was registered Republican. Both of us always voted for the man rather than the party, and we always seemed to agree as to which man that should be. In the election of 1960 I became very much more interested in the political scene, and was very thankful that John Kennedy became our President.

In 1982 I went to work for our local municipality. On the day I started my job there, I also went to the Election Board and switched my registration to Independent. I did not want to be part of the petty - and sometimes not so petty - political nonsense that went on there. I never regretted that decision. Probably missed out on a couple of raises and bonuses, depending who was in office at the time, but I could look at myself in the mirror every morning without flinching. And when the bigwigs wanted a straight answer instead of someone telling them what they thought they wanted to hear, they came to me more than once.


I have never in my life been so aware of the general public being so excited about an up-coming Presidential Inauguration as this one. This time it's different, and it is so exciting! Never have I been so involved emotionally in the election of the President. I think that is true of an amazing number of people. This time, it really mattered, and we all knew it. And we did good!

Barack Obama has before him a truly staggering job. I cannot imagine how anyone can handle it. But you know - I believe he is capable of it. This is a good man! I am sure there will be times when he is all but overwhelmed, and he may stumble a bit now and then. He isn't Superman. But I honestly believe that he will do it, in the end. We have to be supportive, try not to be hyper-critical, but also let him know if he gets off-track and insist that he make good on his promises. It may be that more is expected of this man than any other in our history. But I do believe first, that his intentions are good, and second, that he WILL do it. We have to believe. He may be our last hope after what has gone down in the past eight years.

18 comments:

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

I registered in high school. Didn't know the difference between republican and democrat then. When I got home and told my mom and dad that I registered, they looked at one another. Very slowly the asked how I registered. I told them republican. I guess for them I made the right decision.
I am still republican, but I always vote for the person and not the party.

Barack has a long hard road ahead of him. I do not believe that he will be able to keep all of his promises. He may try, but he will not be able to do it. Don't take this the wrong way, but I just hope that everyone who supported him continues to support him, no matter his decision. Not like Philly fans who will turn on their team in a heartbeat. Lisa

kenju said...

Bobbie, I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph. He isn't Superman. I hope he will be able to keep most of his promises, but I am realistic enough to know it can't be done quickly and it may take years. I will be behind him all the way.

Judy said...

I went to work for state government back in the 60s and was told to go register to vote when I was hired. My father was a democrat and that is the way I registered. I have always voted for the person. I think you are so right about this president, Bobbie. I have never had the feelings I have about him about any other one. I think you said it all and you are right on the money when it comes to Obama.

Lily Hydrangea said...

Bobbie, I'm a registered independent too!
I keep thinking of President Obama's strong mind. he seems incredibly focused which gives me great hope.
Did you see the concert yesterday?
I found it incredibly moving. Everytime they would pan over to the first family I would get chills seeing them there together.
For the first time in a very long time I am proud to be an American.

Tarheel Rambler said...

For the same reasons you have given, I have been registered as an Independent every since I turned 21 in 1973. I have voted for candidates on both sides of the aisle, and a few from third parties. I agree with everything you've said about Obama, and I am hoping that he is able to accomplish most of what he promised.

I am also not just a little fearful, because there are many out there who just don't seem capable of accepting that Obama has been elected. The claims that he is the Anti-Christ, a puppet of terrorists, or whatever. And of course, there are also those that are against him because of racist views. All of these make me anxious and I hope that the Secret Service and the FBI are on their toes.

In the meantime, I cling to hope that President-elect Obama will make a real difference and the problems we face will be effectively addressed.

Dianne said...

I too believe he has good intentions and I am so looking forward to tomorrow - and the days to come as daunting as they may be.

Shelly said...

I feel like we've been on a runaway train for 20+ years...I don't think he can stop it but I believe he can get the brakes to smoke and scream a bit. Hang on folks!

Daryl said...

This is such a good post, Bobbie, tomorrow I am linking to this because you've said so much better than I could just why tomorrow is so important to us all .. the beginning of a return to our core values.

Thank you ...

Deborah Godin said...

That was a really interesting accounting of your political and voting history!! I remember some of the elections before I was old enough to vote. My best girlfriend's father made up a slogan: "I'd feel sadly, our country'd do badly if we elect Adlai" I had no real idea what it was all about, but I thought that slogan was pretty clever. My own first time voting didn't come until 1968, when I turned 21. Nixon and Humphrey - not a very exciting "first time" to remember!!

Sylvia K said...

You've said it all and so well. I too, am an Independent and have been for many years. Took a while to really get into politics, but once there, you don't walk away or at least I couldn't. I said several of the same things in my post earlier today, too. And, yes, we do have to believe because I too feel that Obama may be our last hope considering the past 8 years. Thanks for a beautiful, thoughtful post -- as always!

Marla said...

I am sure his intentions are good, but he has a difficult time ahead of him. It will take many years to accomplish a few of his goals.

Mom said...

Ill be praying that obama fulfills our dreams and hopes. He is an intelligent, charismatic man who seems to motivate and inspire us to be better people. i am excited about the days ahead.
Sue

Cloudia said...

Very important post today!
You also made me miss hoagies, Philly? Me too till I moved to Obama-;and. aloha to you!

magiceye said...

beautiful post!

Mojo said...

I agree with you on pretty much every point, but on one especially. President Obama will be watched more carefully both here and abroad than anyone who has ever held the office before him. His enemies and detractors will put any miscue, no matter how tiny, under a microscope (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Bushist Roberts fumbled the Oath of Office deliberately for that very purpose). But if ever there was a President equal to the challenge, I think we have found him.

And judging from the scene on the National Mall today, I'm in plenty of good company.

floreta said...

i do believe for myself and for this nation. thank you for this great post.

Country Girl said...

For me, and many others, he is a solid symbol of hope.

Wonderful post.

Trannyhead said...

I really enjoyed reading your political memories. My earliest political memory is of the Berlin Wall being torn down, believe it or not!