Two days ago, on the morning of January 20th, many of us in this country woke up with a feeling of excitement, joy and sheer relief — he who shall not be named was no longer the President. Let’s rewind two weeks, to January 6th, when on another Wednesday morning we saw the nation’s Capitol under siege by rioters. The live telecast was scary to say the least and I am sure all of you, around the globe, saw the disturbing images from the event. Over the past five years, we watched various videos of supporters and a common factor we noticed was a blind devotion that they have for him. Don’t get me wrong, politicians can have that impact on people, and I have seen it a LOT in India too. But somewhere, I had this belief that we lived in a developed nation with educated and reasonable folks who did not stoop to such idiocy. Those people at the Capitol proved me wrong by breaking in, rummaging through official documents, stealing laptops and defiling valuable property. And all this for what? For reinstating a president who had very clearly lost a fair election.
I had never been interested in politics until last year, but this election was different. Mr. P and I followed the debates, picked a few favorites from the list of candidates, saw the long list dwindle and finally settle with one name, Joe Biden. And like a cherry on top, he picked Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential candidate. If having a person named Barack Hussein Obama in the White House was exciting, having a Kamala Devi Harris as our VP is ‘vere’ (different) level exciting. I am glad that this country has finally found the gumption to elect a woman, not to mention a woman of color with an Indian heritage as its Vice President. India was way ahead in that aspect and I am proud to say that I hail from a country that has had women serving in the highest positions of the land right from the mid 60s (an even earlier if you count legendary women including Rani Lakshmi Bai, Queen Padmavati and Rudrama Devi).
Coming to the historic inauguration… to start with it good to see the Capitol building restored to its glory after the attacks. It was unfortunate that 25,000 troops had to be brought in to keep the city safe, but I am also glad that it was peaceful and beautiful. While the entire event was powerful, I was particularly impressed by some parts. One of which was the recitation by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. There was so much power in the words uttered by the 22-year old, that I had to go look up the poem just to read it again. You can find it here.
The new president’s inaugural address was equally impressive, especially because it was so strikingly different from his predecessor’s. He quoted Lincoln to say, “When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, “if my name ever goes down into history, it’ll be for this act. And my whole soul is in it.” My whole soul was in it today. On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.” What more could a country ask for, especially when it is still battling Covid surges, economic losses and natural calamities everywhere?
Coming to the highlight of the day, Kamala Harris, or Kamala chithi as she is now popularly known among desi communities: she created history and did it with style. As with any big event, the media was talking about the beautiful dresses, stunning winter coats and striking Ralph Lauren suits at the event. And then one thing caught my attention, the reason why Kamala, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama were sporting shades of purple. According to some articles that I read, purple has been associated with the suffragist movement that ensured women’s right to vote. Along with that, it also subtly points to royalty and most importantly, bipartisanship in the US (red+blue=purple). The VP’s choice of purple was also an ode to Shirley Chisholm, who was the first the first African-American woman to be elected to the Congress in the late 60s and the first ever African-American to run for president in 1972.
After a day of many firsts and new beginnings, all I can say is let the “untrumpening” (sourced from MSNBC news) begin.
As I conclude my first ever political post, I leave you with a few lines from Ms. Gorman’s poem:
“…Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one…
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”