It’s been more than eight years since the American people elected President Barack Obama to the Presidency, since we put our faith in a semi-unknown senator from Illinois, and since we made the decision to commence a new age. The nation was still reeling from the effects of the economic downfall. Every day we were minded of the tragic state of our once proud country; we saw it in the eyes of the ashamed fathers who had lost their job in the auto industry, in the tired hands of the elderly forced out of retirement because of sudden realizations that they didn’t have enough to survive, in the children rushing to their schools for their one meal of the day, and I saw it in the exhausted forehead of my father who didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. He lived on his toes, readily acknowledging that this could be the last day that he stepped into his beloved office. I remember hearing the word “layoff” so often that I assumed it was a pay cut; so many people couldn’t have lost their jobs at once right?
I was eight at the time, and I was terrified, purely because my parents were terrified, my country was terrified and the world was terrified. Every day in the last few months of the election I was told that John McCain had our family’s interests at heart, that he would be the president to save us, but it turns out that my country didn’t. The Wednesday on the day after, other eight-year-olds called me a traitor for supporting the Republican candidate, but I couldn’t fight them; I didn’t know what made the two candidates different from each other, except for the fact that McCain was my candidate and Obama was not.
I quickly forgot about my annoyance and when, on January 20th, we were all piled into the lunch room to watch the inauguration on the projector in the lunch room, I found myself possessed by nationalism for the first time in my young life at the powerful words of my president. I complained about him many times after that; never the less, I still respected him, and any criticism from my mouth came not from his character, but in whatever way his financial decisions might hurt my family. I respected him; I felt American.
In contrast, the strongest scene of the recent past is our current president gliding down an escalator at Trump Tower. I, like, many Americans acted like his entire presidency was a joke; a bit of comic relief to commence the election ahead. As months went by I wish I could say that I thought it was less of a joke and started to take him seriously, but I can’t. Even on the night of the election, I laughed at the prospect of his presidency. I couldn’t respect him; years earlier when I hadn’t agreed with President Obama, I certainly respected him – as an orator, a politician, and as a man.
Yesterday, as the man I could never respect took his place in the in what Lincoln described as “just a white house,” a stark contrast to Trump’s gold-plated Manhattan palace, I felt that a symbol of our country was being defiled. As much as I would like to say that the New York is the rightful capital of the United States, I have come to realize that the White House, not just Washington, has birthed movements and brought life to this country through the very feeling it inspires. Judging at least by his inaugural speech yesterday, there is no reason to believe that Trump could begin to appreciate or comprehend the sanctity of that image and of that house.