Confessions lead to perspective.
Confession 1: I did not vote for Barack Obama. Try not to be shocked. And yet, a month after his first election I wrote an upbeat essay with a generally positive outlook for the United States and its new president. Remembering 1968; Honoring 2008
I recall very well watching his inauguration, in the living room of our friends, the Kroesens, in Amsterdam. I beamed with pride for my country. I was happy that they saw me glowing. Happy that the world saw our country aglow. We were in the spotlight, and in a good way for a change.
We were showing the world how it’s done. No, not the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural parties, celebrations, balls and lime-light performers. Toss in an eloquent speech. That’s all just puffery. Rather, I was proud of how we had an election that nearly amounted to a revolution; yet the transition was smooth and peaceful.
An inaugural swearing in is a historical event. Obama’s even more so. People of all shades and political persuasions were invited to — and attended — the inauguration. Politically and culturally they were diverse; as citizens they were united. It’s hard to believe now, but President Obama enjoyed very favorable ratings among Conservative and Republicans in his first days as president, per Gallup. How quickly things changed.
Confession 2: I did not vote for Donald Trump. Try not to be shocked. Combined with confession 1, and the fact I vote in every election (but only once), this puts me in a very, very tiny minority. Nearly alone, I’m pretty sure, and with a very special perspective. It’s like I’m perched on high, on city hall’s mezzanine veranda, looking out over a vast and busy city square with its throngs of people: many going about their business in the market, yet many, many others worked up and fussing about in emotional tizzies. The more they talk with each other, the deeper their dithering tizzies become. From this perspective I find it difficult, if not impossible, to be upbeat.
We are as divided as we’ve ever been. Scores of politicians, personalities and pontificating people find it necessary to not only reject the incoming president, but to make it a point to protest and not participate.
I ascribe much of our deep political divisions to the behavior of our last two presidents, particularly #44 , and to the apparent total inability of either major party to come up with a likeable and “clean” candidate.
Yes, Trump speaks, acts and tweets divisively. Even childishly. I cannot condone that. Reacting in kind does nothing to unite us.
I know scads and scads of people who supported and voted for Mrs Clinton. Since I’ve not voted for a presidential winner in nearly three decades, I should be able to understand how they feel. Yet I don’t. I feel miles and miles away — a universe away. I’ve never experienced such depth and breadth of disdain for a president-elect in my entire adult life. This doesn’t bode well. Can’t people at least wait until he’s president, and in the meanwhile celebrate our American democracy, with its bloodless changing of the guard?
I also know quite a few Trump supporters. Not one is racist, homophobic, stupid, unthoughtful, hateful or a Troglodyte. They seemed to me to go about their citizens’ duty with a sort of grim determination, like a detective investigating a grisly crime. “I’m not happy about it, and it’s dirty work — but is has to be done.”
Quite a few left-leaning luminaries will be attending Mr Trump’s inauguration. I applaud them.
Begin with the Clintons. Together again.
And of course, Barack Obama.
And the 200 or so Democratic Senators and Congressmen who will attend. Good for them all. This is not their day to grandstand. It is America’s day.
If we cannot stand united to honor our democratic functions, then we have little chance of uniting when destiny calls upon us to deliver our very best in her hours of greatest need.
Joe Girard (c) 2017
 I almost wear this as a badge of honor. I vote for losers.
 Almost immediately after the 2009 inauguration, President Obama took to belittling, lecturing and (legislatively) ignoring Republicans. With both houses, he lectured: “Elections have consequences.” And “We won, you lost.” And finally, “Eat your peas.”
This demeaning behavior was the cake. The thick icing was a nearly perpetual state of campaigning, and passing of legislation without so much as consulting the other side of the aisle, nor soliciting a vote of support. Message: you’re not needed here.