January 24, 2009 in Washington Voices

Inauguration celebration

Local residents gather to discuss, toast new president
Sandra Babcock Correspondent
 
Photo by Sandra Babcock photo

From right, Harriett Jacobson, Judy Janes and Joyce Tucker offer a toast to President Barack Obama at an inauguration party Jacobson hosted at her Spokane Valley home.
(Full-size photo)

Step aside Washington, D.C., inauguration partygoers because on Tuesday the “other” Washington celebrated the promise of change with equal enthusiasm thanks to people like Harriett and Lloyd Jacobson.

The Jacobsons, members of moveon.org, opened their Spokane Valley home to such a celebration. Harriett, a retired teacher of the Central Valley School District, is a consummate community volunteer. “When I first read about having an inauguration party I thought, ‘What’s that all about’,” she said. The idea, however, piqued her interest, “So I did it.”

The small gathering of seven people arrived in good spirits and actively participated in a lively conversation about America’s future under its new president, Barack Obama.

“He (Obama) seems to be calm and in control. He has excellent organization and his history has been very admirable of what he’s done since he graduated from college,” Harriett Jacobson said. “He could’ve gone into a corporate place and made a lot of money but instead he became a community organizer. It’s the fact that he put his time, effort and expertise into helping build a community and I think that’s extremely important that we restructure and build communities instead of having them so fragmented. We need to get a common cause.”

At the outset of this presidential race, it was highly unlikely that an African-American with a Muslim name would be elected president. Bit by bit, Barack Obama wowed the masses with his spontaneity, articulate speeches and uncanny ability to remain calm under pressure. It was obvious he could talk a good talk and the country now hopes he can walk an exceptional walk.

“In the ’60s we had the same vision about loving people, opening up and trusting folks, but it didn’t come to pass. It’s not about Barack, it’s about where we are now and can Barack fulfill the vision,” said one participant. “We’ll just wait and see.”

Others envision a new beginning. “This is a breakthrough from the stranglehold on political power,” Jacobson commented.

For Joyce Tucker it’s Obama’s skill at building relationships that puts him a step ahead. “That’s who he is,” she said. “It’s his multicultural background; it’s his heart.”

Judy Janes, whose son recently returned after serving in Iraq, was drawn to Obama because of his opposition to the Iraq war and promise of withdrawal. “The whole thing was a lie,” she said referring to the reasons behind the war.

Those in attendance felt race was not a major factor in this election. “What happened today, this historic event … we say he’s a black man but he’s just as much white as he is black,” Jacobson noted.

There’s no argument that Obama has to confront the difficult tasks of dealing with two wars, uniting a divisive House and Senate and bolstering a failing economy. “It’ll take years before we get out of this mess,” one attendee said.

“It’s not in the hands of the executive branch but in the tenor of the electorate, the House of Representatives and Senate on how they’ll take this moment of change. We’ll find that out very soon,” said another.

“It’s not going to be perfect. It can’t be. I always said that the science of politics is the science of doing the greatest good for the greatest number while doing the least harm to the fewest people. That’s what politics is about,” Jacobson said.

Despite the varied opinions on how America’s problems can be solved, it was evident this group holds high aspirations for the incoming administration. Obama’s inaugural speech was quoted time and again; soon champagne was poured and glasses raised in a toast.

“Here’s to hope,” Jacobson said.

“To hope,” the rest said in unison.

Contact correspondent Sandra Babcock by e-mail at Sandi30@comcast.net.


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