Not to reveal my age or anything, but Tuesday’s was the eleventh inauguration held since I went to work for the Sierra Club. Over the next 40 years, it was always monumentally frustrating that concerns for the earth were almost altogether missing from the rhetoric during the campaign and especially the inaugural speeches.
Hearing President Obama talk about transforming our energy economy, about restoring our alliegance to sound science, about taking a fresh look at international trade, made it seem as if our work over the past decades was about to bear fruit big time. Not that we haven’t done a lot of good over the years, but, as Dave Brower and others were wont to observe, we’ve mostly just succeeded in slowing the rate at which things got worse.
Now, I truly believe we have a chance, maybe a last chance, to make a sharp turn. Indeed, we must. Whether it’s too late—concerning the climate in particular, and ocean fisheries, and many other matters—we won’t know for a while, but the signs are promising.
It’s too bad we had to get into such a godawful mess before momentum built to the point of making possible bold moves and changes in direction, but so be it.
Like almost everyone else, I’m still basking in the inaugural glow, hopeful, cautiously optimistic, and detemined to help make this thing work.
A last story: Soon after I went to work for the club in 1968, Richard Nixon was elected the first time. He nominated Alaska governor Wally Hickel to run the Interior Department. The club opposed the nomination vigorously and raised such a fuss that the confirmation hearing was broadcast live, nation wide. It was a tremendous revelation. Hickel was not very bright, "thick as two short planks" as my Kiwi friends used to say. I got to thinking that our political system selects people who are clever, wily, and sly, but often without principles or great intellect.
Barack Obama has changed all that. I for one, can’t wait for the next months and years to unfold.