Reid Pauly | Guest Room
There is only one window in our office on the third floor of the Rayburn Building, but it could not have been placed any more perfectly. The panes of glass frame a postcard image of the Southwest side of the Capitol Building. It is truly a sobering routine to walk to work in the shadow of two-hundred and fifteen years of American history. Two hundred and eighty-nine feet below the double dome and a towering statue of Freedom, workers have a new found sense of urgency as they throw together this nation’s 44th inaugural platform.
The morning after Election Day I was exhausted, but the excitement and buzz of a new era kept me awake on Capitol Hill. Washington DC, like many other cities around the world, went crazy on Tuesday. I will admit to running down Pennsylvania Avenue in crowds that I would only have thought a Redskins Super bowl championship could have drawn. Arriving at the White House, we became part of a larger scene of patriots gathering to display a renewed spirit of political activism. Emotions and politics: you tell me this isn’t the real America.
I have faith that our new President-elect and his team of executive appointments will possess the kind of spirit and leadership that is required to constructively and creatively address the nation’s real crises. We witnessed a great example of this leadership last Tuesday, in Mr. Obama’s victory speech. His historic address displayed an unprecedented sense of honesty and openness with the American people that inspires a true vocation of social responsibility y —a tone that Americans are ready for, and one that the road ahead necessitates. Given the state of our world, it seems odd to place so much emphasis on public awareness, but if we are to see the reality of the crises facing our nation, it is clear that government cannot solve all of our problems. A new government, therefore, without the means to inspire the people to make personal changes would be every bit as ineffective against tackling our nation’s twenty-first century issues as would be eight more years of a Bush Administration. Our nation must come to terms with the fact that dated approaches to problem solving will simply not cut it in our modern era. The rusted gears of government bureaucracy are aching for creative leadership, and the wealth of political capital that floods the coffers of an Obama administration must be spent carefully to ensure the continued faith of the American people through this realignment. Last Tuesday we broke through a barrier of political apathy that has shrouded this nation for the majority my lifetime, and the vital task of ensuring the sustainability of this social interest falls to Mr. Obama.
As for my office, Representative Oberstar won a resounding victory in the 8th district of Minnesota, carrying nearly 70 percent of the vote. Still, Democratic water cooler gossip on the Hill was predicting somewhere between 20 and 25 pick-ups in the House of Representatives, with the off chance of 30. As it stands today, four incumbent seats were lost to Republicans, and the Democrats have only picked up about 20 total. Nonetheless, staffers here are ecstatic about picking up seats in Idaho and Alabama. I am also truly proud that there was little or no statistical evidence to suggest that Mr. Obama was hindered by the color of his skin. It is inconceivable, however, to think that this election has somehow suddenly fundamentally altered the way we see our fellow man; but what is most important is what the image of an African-American family in the White House will do to the grey-matter in the minds of little children growing up around the world.
To paraphrase the thoughts of modern philosopher Jon Stewart: Last Tuesday, a politician spoke to the American people as if they were adults. It truly is an exciting time for our nation to be growing up.
Reid Pauly is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is currently participating in the Cornell in Washington Program, working on Capitol Hill and taking classes at the Cornell Center in Washington DC. Guest Room appears periodically.