Al asked me during the show today what stood out most to me during the inauguration. I hadn't thought about it before he asked, and my answer sort of surprised me. It was the way in which Obama seems to have inspired young people to get involved and re-engage in our political process.
My mom has told me that she was very much inspired by Bobby Kennedy. That when he was killed, she didn't vote for years. I've heard other people in her generation talk about being inspired by the RFK or JFK. I don't think my generation has had somebody like that.
I'm 37, so I guess that makes me Generation X. Watching the crowds watching the inauguration yesterday it occurred to me that people my age didn't have a larger than life inspirational figure like either Kennedy or FDR or even Reagan when we came of age. Our first presidential choice was between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Our first political experiences mostly had to do with scandals and petty party fights.
You could argue politics has always been that way, but every once in a while a politician takes the stage, seems to rise above it all and asks citizens to do the same. It makes a difference whether you're 17 when that happens or 37. If you're younger, I think it sticks.
We've talked about the election a lot with our 7-year-old daughter, Lea. She's been interested and curious since she realized "a girl" was running last year. She ultimately voted for John McCain in her school's Kid Vote election – she liked that he had more experience.
We had a snow day here, so when I got home from work Slade had the kids in front of the TV. That was terrific. I walked in right when Obama was starting his speech. Lea came over and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream came true." She sat down next to me and we listened to the new president. Two minutes later, Benny had enough and that was that. But I think Lea will remember this election and the promise of this moment.