At long last. Barack Obama is President of the United States. Intelligence, common sense and decency have returned to the White House. We have every reason to believe the Obama administration will work for all Americans-not just "my base," as W told his oil cronies at a fundraiser.
There is every reason to believe the Obama administration will be far friendlier to the arts than the previous administration. It is notable that the Obama campaign had a detailed position paper on the arts, while the McCain campaign had none. I am heartened by many of my fellow musicians and artists who are speaking out now about the need to promote the arts in our country, and the creative energy being expended to determine the best course of action for helping arts groups facing hard times-and educating our country as to why the arts are important (e.g., the economic impact of the arts).
In the meantime, the reality of the new Obama administration is finally beginning to sink in. These past few days I have been alternating between giddiness and pinching myself to make certain this is real. My friends and colleagues have had the same reaction. Perhaps this is a reaction to going from the ridiculous to the sublime, the experience of feeling beaten down by eight years of the Worst President Ever (not to mention his policies favoring the privileged class), of having a President I whose candidacy I supported from the day he announced his bid, my personal pride in having a President from my home city of Chicago, the rapture of our fellow world citizens at Obama's presidency-to the promise of a person of color being our Commander In Chief.
I won't go into the myraid of issues to be addressed-that would require several more blog posts! Suffice it to say that I agree 100% with conductor Bill Eddins' assessment of the Bush administration in his January 20, 2009 post to Sticks and Drones that "(i)t has been a horrible 8 years for this country for a lot of reasons."
Finally, for all the yammering of the "Christian" Right about "Traditional Family Values" (which usually means subordination of women to men and/or denying the right of same-sex couples to marital rights and responsibilities), the new First Family exhibits true family values. In the coverage of the inaugural balls I was touched by the very obvious love displayed between Barack and Michelle Obama-and by Joe and Jill Biden. Throughout the campaign I have observed how Barack reacts to Michelle when she's speaking-how he looks at her, listens to her and obviously respects her opinions and considerable intelligence. January 20, 2009 also displayed, for the world to see, the great love Barack and Michelle have for their daughters. How refreshing that we have a First Family that doesn't need to talk about Family Values, because they live those values every day.
Welcome to the White House, Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and Marian (our new First Grandmother). We're thrilled you're there. Thank you for stepping up to serve our country when we need you the most.