Thoughts on the eve of Obama’s inauguration

Ruby Clemmons
I am sure that as I watch the inaugural rites on live television, I will also remember Mitt Romney and how he killed his lifelong dream of becoming president

LOS ANGELES, California – On Sunday, January 20, as Barack H. Obama is officially sworn in for his second term as president of the United States, I and the rest of the “47%” segment will once again be reminded of the ear-splitting noise that we helped create, and which led to the political death of a reckless politician.

I am sure that as I watch the inaugural rites on live television, I will also remember Mitt Romney and how he killed his lifelong dream of becoming president by making an irresponsible comment about my “class” at a private fundraiser in Florida that fateful night in May.

And with this flashback will come the hurt that I felt when he said, with his trademark smirk, “There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims…These are people who pay no income tax…and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

I will be reminded, too, that when this secretly recorded speech went public courtesy of the website, Mother Jones, I was weeks away from turning 47. Forty-seven and a victim. Thank you very much!

And of course I will remember the very day when I, the distant observer, got tired of — and really fed up with — hearing the mudslinging and watching the political ruckus. I then decided to go to Facebook, to publicly reveal my political color.

My FB status on midnight of November 5, the eve of the elections:

“I held on to my green card, which I got thru my late father, for 15 years before I decided to become an American citizen last July. For over a decade, I chose to go through the hoops of getting Schengen visas and being dealt with contempt at European airports as a traveler carrying a Philippine passport. It was my choice because I wasn’t ready yet. I wasn’t ready to surrender my passport, with George Bush as president. This last summer though, I was ready. I thought that if I were to cast my first vote in the land of the free, I’d rather that Barack Obama is still president. A few hours from now, I will join the rest of America in exercising this right. I hope people will go out and vote. And I hope Barack Obama wins a second term.”

Surrendering my Philippine passport, participating in the polls and choosing to vote for Obama was my formal farewell to that era of personal history, when I looked at America in such an awful way.

Those idealistic youth days, flashbacks of which would still fill my head; they come in torrents. But this is a Martial Law baby’s  fate! And I chose to bid that era good-bye because  finally I was ready to accept the responsibilities required of an American.

Admittedly, this more accepting, more tolerant nature came with motherhood. I am a mother now (two girls, aged 8 and 5) and honoring their country of birth is a parental responsibility.

Accountability culture

It is actually not that hard to appreciate the American system. Although it’s not perfect, it works. Government officials — from the president down to the lowly clerk are accountable — and this “accountability culture” is what I admire the most.

An FB status summed it all up:

“The final US presidential debate will happen in about an hour. As a newly-minted American, I am looking forward to this event. And because I rant here and there, liberally at that — a lot of people think that I am a card-bearing Democrat. I am not. I have no party affiliation. My parents -in-law are as red as a Valentine card. The friends that I hang out with regularly are Republicans, some of them are gung-ho, while others consider themselves fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal. I also have friends that are bluer than blue. I pal with everyone. I don’t have a dog in the fight in the local polls. I am an independent voter. I am a first time voter who goes for a candidate who has a solid plan, a clear vision; someone who tends to the poor and the middle class, and who truly cares a lot about equality and social justice. I am voting for Pres. Barack H. Obama.”

And I’d give another direct, almost simplistic reason why I chose Obama. The guy gets me. Michelle gets me. She is just like me, she orders Malia to do her own laundry and Sasha to make her own bed.

I am one of those who firmly believe that the last election was not a referendum on the Obama administration’s economic policy. It was just all about picking the guy who could relate to my life — right here on Planet Earth. I also pinned my hopes on the future — that the President will buckle down and work, really work, because he doesn’t have an election to worry about anymore. I am convinced that as he works for his legacy, he will be much bolder.

And speaking of life on Planet Earth, after all the hallelujahs had been exchanged on FB posts, I wrote my last entry the night Obama was declared the winner:

“Rock on, J. Crew!”

Like I said, Michelle gets me! –

Ruby Clemmons is a former Manila-based journalist. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband James, and their two girls, Isabella, 8, and Annika, 5.


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