Today is January 15, which means that in five days–I never thought it would be this close–my life and your life and the lives of everyone you know will significantly change, because it will finally be over. George W. Bush will walk away from the White House and short of radical constitutional change or Laura’s sudden and successful emergence into Presidential politics, he will never be allowed to come back (as a resident).
Eight years ago, I watched in horror as it became clear that this guy
may actually be the next president. For weeks after, I watched the news and read the papers in hopes that the right decision would be made, but knowing in my gut that it would not. I remember thinking, If he’s gotten away with this so far, he’ll take the whole damn thing.
In 2001, I watched in terror and disbelief as the Twin Towers were struck and subsequently collapsed, and then the term “horror” was redefined as it became clear that the Bush Administration would use the greatest national tragedy in recent history as an excuse for full-on military violence in as many circumstances as possible, racial profiling, the systematic stripping away of civil rights, fear-mongering, blatant bible-beating and the lining of all of their friends’ pockets with gold.
In 2003, I watched (the sole American in a room full of multinational travelers) from the living room of a youth hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, as my country unnecessarily invaded Iraq, blaming the start of a war that was mostly about oil money on weapons of mass destruction that didn’t actually exist, and a supposed connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda that had not been proven.
In 2004, I cried as the election results came in and it was hammered home just how ignorant, bigoted and religiously stupid more than half of my country was. I kept waiting for Jon Stewart to interrupt the news and say, “Just kidding–Kerry’s no prize, but at least he beat Bush.”
That didn’t happen, but this did:
In 2005, Bush denied the existence of global warming, refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, and then this happened:
In 2006, the Vice President shot someone in the face.
In 2007, Bush said the American economy was in great shape. By 2008, Americans were facing the highest gas prices in history and the worst recession since World War II.
In 2008, just to make sure Americans hadn’t exhausted their potential for political anxiety and terror, the Republican Party presidential candidate gave us this idiot to have nightmares about for a few months:
But then it happened. As evil political genius Karl Rove predicted (and when I read his prediction, I let out the breath I’d been holding for three months because he tends to be right about these things), Barack Obama won the presidency by a landslide. There was no (successful) creative electioneering by the Republican party, no electoral vote/popular vote contradiction, no last minute scandal to suck away our hope once again.
He won, fair and square, and everyone acknowledged it, even George W. Bush. The results were in early by election standards, and instead of getting worse, the numbers just kept getting better. Not only did he win, he won by far more votes than any of us expected. For the first time in nearly a decade, I was completely, overwhelmingly, proud to be an American.
In five days, the thousands of counters that were set around the world in 2000, and re-set in 2004, will finally reach zero. The worst presidency in the history of the United States of America will be over, and most of us will have lived through it. Whew.