We are now officially into the second term of the 44th president of the United States. Despite all odds, Barack Obama was reelected in November and sworn into office on Sunday, hoping to fix what ails the world in his second four-year stint as president.
I was lucky enough to attend Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 and had hoped to attend his second one — the public version, at least — on Monday, but as happens, life got in the way.
I didn’t vote for Obama. Not the first time around. And not the second. And while I don’t think he has the answers to everything, I certainly hope he does well.
This country needs help on a variety of matters and we’ll need to pull together to do so. We’ll need to remember that there is no Democratic States of America. Nor is there a Republican States of America. Red states and blue states all end up with the same president. And for the next four years, that president is Obama.
We may have fundamental disagreements as Americans. Everyone has their own interpretation of what this country is, what it was founded on and what it should be in the future. There is plenty of room for disagreement. In fact, it’s quite heartening to see that we can disagree and still all stand for the same flag.
Of course, during his inauguration address, the president laid out a basic framework of what he wants this country to be. Just as predictably, his opponents on the right came forward with why they disapproved of his vision. Again, these disagreements are to be expected and are very healthy.
What’s not healthy is the amount of hatred and vitriol that each side continues to lob at the other. From the right’s point of view, anyone who supports Obama is anti-American and must hate freedom. From the left’s point of view, anyone who doesn’t support Obama is anti-American and must hate freedom.
I wish we could have taken the day off to just be American. There are very few days when we simply get to celebrate what it means to live in the best country of the world. Even the days that should be set aside to do that — Independence Day, for example — have been tainted with partisan rancor.
Four years ago, standing on the Mall with my then-11-year-old daughter, I was awestruck by how awesome it was to be an American. I was overwhelmed with patriotism as we installed Obama — despite my having not voted for him. And I was hopeful that the bitterness of the Bush and Clinton years may end.
The past four years proved that the bitterness and division remained. But this Sunday we began anew — again. And I hope we can unite. Before we fall apart.
Scott Leffler is incredibly naive, but in a cute, childlike way. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.