Having covered the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention as well as the Green Party Convention, I figured it would be worth it to cover the Inauguration too. Yet, so far, it's a non-event and that's because the Inauguration was never meant to be some three or four day extravaganza like this.
The atmosphere seems stilted and fragile. Everybody is here for something. It's like they've come to claim some entitlement.
It may seem like one is severely infatuated with the man, the myth, the legend---Barack Obama---but upon second thought, it's clear people want something more out of this president than they have ever demanded out of any other president before.
Today's big event, "We Are One", happened in front of the Lincoln Memorial with crowds gathering around the Reflecting Pool. The crowds stretched back to the Washington Monument. It was a scene constructed for the picturesque and historic qualities it could evoke.
From Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” with a gospel choir backing him up to the finale “This Land Is Your Land” being led by Pete Seeger with other musicians, the celebration, which attracted over a million people before it was over, kept the mantra of hope and change flying high with a line up of songs which would make Americans think compassion and patriotism.
It’s difficult to reflect since I am here in D.C. as a production assistant for CitizenKate.TV. CitizenKate.TV, besides shooting footage for the story of Kate, is working with Shepherd Fairey (who created the now famous Obama artwork) to collect “Hopes for Change” video postcards to be posted on Fairey’s website. [I will post an article on doing production for Citizen Kate after the Inauguration when I am no longer frantically on the run from event to event and barely sleeping.]
Shooting these reveal more about what is going on in D.C. than any observations from my self ever will.
I cannot specifically describe all the details comprehensively without a transcript of the comments in front of me, but I do know that health care, fixing the economy, restoring American leadership/America’s reputation, and (occasionally) stopping the wars in the Middle East are on the top of American’s minds.
Yet, many people come to these events awash in thoughts devoid of political thinking. Some of them are also thinking about how Barack Obama could not possibly do it all.
The line that “Barack Obama could not possibly do it all” is one propagated by the media and is also one that Obama has used. Yet, he never stops with this line. A bold statement that the people need to be the change always follows so people think if they do what is needed---if they make the sacrifice---change will happen.
Obama’s events where the jumbotrons roll out and the stars come out to sing are brilliant events that give the people what they want, essentially, but having been to many marches/rallies to protest the war, I can confidently say more change would happen if we were marching and rallying to solve issues instead of rallying to recall history.
Obama’s final days of creating the narrative, which are building up to Inauguration Day, reach back and pull bits and pieces from Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan to create a hybrid president that will be able to take on all the disasters and oncoming pratfalls facing America’s incoming president.
In the music world, one could say the Obama Transition Team is creating a “mashup.” Pieces of different “songs” (presidents) are having the best parts or the most appropriate parts removed and placed into sequence to form a storyline to restore faith in a country whose outgoing president has a 34% approval rating.
Bottom line is that as much as I want to hope for change like everybody else, I cannot help but feel like I am in some parallel universe. I am tempted to go ahead and say the Obama Transition Team is creating a “Twilight Zone” for Americans every time they do this. I also am reminded of parts of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 whenever I look at the jumbotron screens.
In Obama world, tempered idealism ebbs and flows. Obama controls the population majestically and molds the despair, anxiety, and desire into hope for change and a willingness to consult not the “People’s History of the United States” but the “Time Life History of the United States.” Through this consultation, Americans are supposed to find it in their hearts to engage in acts of charity, which soothe one’s heart but do little to bring about real change.
In reality, Bush is leaving office. Wall Street gangster capitalists continues to be granted taxpayer money while Congress and the people have no idea what good that will do. Wars in the Middle East rage on and a troop surge supported by Obama is underway in Afghanistan.