Whenever a particle A exerts a force on another particle B, B simultaneously
exerts a force on A with the same magnitude in the opposite direction. The
strong form of the law further postulates that these two forces act along the
same line. -- Newton's Third Law
This law is often simplified into the sentence, "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
We sit on the eve of one of the most extraordinary days in American history. It's not often that we know, going into a day, that it will be talked about in history books for as long as America exists. Millions of people, me included, will fill Washington -- to see the spectacle, to be a part of the occasion, but most of all to celebrate the remarkable ascension of our country's first African-American president. But that's not the whole story, is it? It's not just the historical implications of a black president, much less one named Barack Hussein Obama. Obama has inspired the nation, leading to an unprecedented 79% of the country saying they are optimistic for his presidency in the final CBS poll, including 59% of Republicans.
So for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, right? Has the country been so inspired by Obama because he's a brilliant orator? Because he's unflinching under the immense pressure he must face every day? Not a chance. Americans are only inspired because there is some huge obstacle to overcome. We are only immensely hopeful because we have an immensely deep hole from which to rise. That hole's name is George W. Bush.
The joke is that Dubya was such a bad president that Americans were okay with a black president. In reality, his executive putrescence led to Americans actually getting off their collective ass and wanting to do something about it. We didn't just sit idly by and enjoy Obama's speeches, we were ready to work to make a better country. It's why he raised so much more money from so many more donors than ever before. It's why the streets were lousy with Obama volunteers in the weeks leading up to November 4. It's why even today, a day that Congress named a National Day of Service in 1994, people actually did service. I visited two different sites today, the larger one being a conference center in North Bethesda. They anticipated having two thousand volunteers and I wouldn't be surprised if they had surpassed that. When we arrived, three tour buses (the official vehicle of the DC area right now is the tour bus) were just leaving. Even so, the massive ballroom was packed with people of all different ages and races. There were somewhere around sixty different tables with activities plus a very long line to make sandwiches and pack lunches for the needy. We ended up writing letters to soldiers and putting them into donated books to send overseas.
President Bush has done a lot of horrible things to our country. He fought to disenfranchise voters in order to get elected. The use of torture has hurt our country in ways from which we will never be able to recover. His cronyism helped lead to the destruction of one of our most vibrant cities. Many of the aforementioned soldiers would not be abroad if it weren't for a ridiculous war. Bush is responsible for all this and so much more. On the day after the Iowa caucuses (how long ago does that feel?!), I wrote about the darkness of the last eight years and how people will look to overcome that and move on with righting the nation's path. As I write this, there are about fourteen hours left in the Bush presidency. Fourteen short hours after eight long, long years.
These have been eight years (more if you go back to the Florida fiasco) of action that have produced a spectacular, historic reaction. There are two sides to this thing. I'm choosing to focus on the positive. So, on the eve of the most anticipated presidential inauguration in history, on the eve of a day that will be remembered as long as our country exists, I can say that for the first time in eight years, two months, and thirteen days, I am finally proud to be an American.