I’m not a particularly political person, so I didn’t expect the feeling of loss that hit me on this Inauguration Morning. Not foreboding of things to come, but of the end of the administration of the best President I can remember.
I’m 40 years old. When I was born, Ford was president, and would be for less than another year. I have zero memory of Ford’s or Carter’s administrations, and the only thing I really remember about Reagan was my family’s disgust when a presidential address would interrupt our normal television schedule. George H. W. Bush was president while I was in junior high and early high school. I remember being worried about the Gulf War, but otherwise still pretty unengaged politically.
The Clinton Administration was high school and early college for me. I thought he was cool — hey, he plays the saxophone! — but he also had sex scandals, impeachment proceedings, didn’t inhale… I didn’t think he was The Best President Ever, but he wasn’t bad, either.
George W. Bush was president while I was finishing up my undergrad and moving onward into the working world. I had started to become more aware of and involved in social and political activism, and the aftermath of 9/11 (during my final semester) served to strengthen that. I’ll just say that, like many others who shared my social opinions, I had a poor opinion of President Bush.
My college friend Eric tipped me off to this Obama guy, a young Democratic senator from Chicago. You should keep your eye on him, Eric told me. I didn’t really look into it at the time… but when the nominations came in, I recognized the candidate.
This was a guy I wished I could meet, talk to, hang out with. I resonated with him as I’d never resonated with another politician. I could give the laundry list of reasons why, but I’ve already gone on long enough with this political retrospective.
The point is, I’m going to miss having a president I feel a connection with. It’s back to politics as usual — or not, since the incoming Trump Administration is, true to its word, shaking things up in Washington. As I write this, the Cabinet is still being finalized, but mostly consists of CEOs and businesspeople and very few people who seem to know how the United States Government functions.
President Obama is leaving office with a very high approval rating, and Trump is taking office with one of the lowest approval ratings of an incoming President (or so I’ve read).
It feels like mourning. Maybe later it’ll feel different — defeat, depression, anxiety, foreboding — but, right now, in this moment, I’m mourning the end of an era.