Entries Tagged 'Partisanship' ↓

Election Results: Road Work Ahead

Ever heard of the saying “be careful what you wish for and you just might get it”? I’m wondering who might be muttering those sentiments a few months from now. This damn election could actually force some folks down a road they weren’t exactly prepared for. Because moving forward requires pulling down some carefully constructed barriers. After all, isn’t tacking up a collection of fancy signs with fancy slogans demanding folks not to go that way a whole lot easier than actually making the road itself?

Let me back up a bit.

After unloading the kids from the car after baseball, after feeding them quick “before bed” bowls of cereal, stripping their muddy clothes off, and bathing them and after eventually shooing them to bed, I finally turned my attention to the election coverage.

My husband, who had spent his evening waiting in line at the polls to vote, was already watching the coverage. Things didn’t look good.

I’m not sure I feel like hashing out how badly Florida just screwed up. It makes me feel ill. And in this current state of mind, I have nothing very constructive to say about it all. So I will leave it to Deb on the Rocks, who said it clearly enough last night on Twitter.

And it certainly was not just Florida who lost its ever loving mind. The House lost it’s democratic majority and the Senate barely, baaarely, held on to theirs. Seats were filled with Tea Party newcomers and, I’m sorry but let’s get real, some shady cats.

And John Boehner wept with majority leader anticipation.

My husband fixed himself a stiff drink. I lept at the Halloween candy bowl. And then made myself a stiff drink. Sorrows were drowned if only momentarily.

But I kept thinking about John Stewart this weekend at the Rally for Sanity. (Because, shocker, I was grasping for a little sanity while those results ticked across the TV screen.) I kept thinking about his tunnel traffic analogy. How all of us with different ideals and hopes and religions and political persuasions manage to make our way through traffic jams every day.

“And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river.  Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences.  And they do it.  Concession by concession.  You go.  Then I’ll go.  You go. Then I’ll go.  You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car?  Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness.  And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey.  But we do it anyway, together.”

Yes this country has decided they want change again. Sure, I could go on here about our impatient, disposable, drive-through society with no apparent attention span and a love for all things bright and shiny. And how if we don’t get what we want right NOW, we give up and move on to the next one.

I gather there is no convincing folks that after 8 years of outrageous screw-ups, 2 years of scrambling won’t make it all right again.

Anyway, so we want change again. Fine.

But sticking with Jon’s traffic analogy, there is no doubt that Obama has been up against one frustrating Republican road block after another. No, no, no. You will not make change happen. We will stop you. You are wrong. Always wrong. No we won’t compromise. Nothing constructive will happen under your watch. Never never never.

But now everything has changed. And those roadblocks? Those bright orange cones in the road and reflective signs and Jersey barriers demanding that this administration STOP!!! … Yeah, those? They have now been elected AS the road. Now, they have been elected to figure out which way we are going. They actually have to buck up and help find the path of least resistance WITH Obama. They need to push aside those Jersey barriers and flags and such so this nation might have some damn hope of inching forward. They have to learn to make room for YES, and OK, and LET’S COMPROMISE so that something, anything can progress. This is, in fact, where the rubber meets the road.

Strap on your seat belts, my friends. I’m afraid its going to be a very bumpy ride.

Stop the Hate and Do Something

I’m currently watching news coverage about the President’s arrival in Tampa. On the day after his State of the Union Address, he is here to announce a new rail system between this city and Orlando. It will create jobs, it will expand the area, it will help traffic, it is entirely needed and very exciting.

Of course, I’m excited simply because he’s in town. I wish I had been able to call in sick from my stay at home mom duties to stand in line and possibly get a ticket into the town hall meeting hosted by the University of Tampa.

But TV coverage will do. It’s all good.

This morning, I took my three year old to open hours at a local indoor petri dish bounce play place. He was excited and I was excited for him to toss himself wildly about until he crumpled into a nap-ready pile that I could carry out of there.

But as I was wrangling shoes, signing in and dealing with my 3yo, I heard this conversation between two of the women working there – one in her 40s and one college aged.

Woman #1: I can’t believe he’s coming here. He’s just going to make traffic a living nightmare downtown.

College-aged Woman: I know. I can’t believe anyone wants to go and even see him. I am going no where near campus today.

Woman #1: I wouldn’t. Plus it could be dangerous. Someone could try and take a shot at him.

College-aged Woman: I know and Biden is with him too…

Woman #1: Well, that would be two for the price of one then wouldn’t it?

Laughing… or maybe it was cackling.

College-aged Woman: Yeah, I wish! …*snort*… I totally hate that man.

While this conversation was happening, my three year old had finally been de-shoed and, as his friend had ran by, I found myself on my feet and chasing him into the room filled with inflatables.

But I felt like I had been slapped in the face.

HATE.

Seething, angry, from the soul… hate.

It’s everywhere.

Before I even had the chance to sit down and write this post, I was watching news coverage of the presidential motorcade speeding through Tampa. And protesters, in all of their tea bagging glory, were booing and giving our President the finger.

HATE.

To say that I am discouraged by our country… to say that I am exhausted by our financial slump… to say that I am disillusioned by politics… to say that I haven’t felt very hopeful recently… well. Yeah. But I’m nothing unique. My frustrations are about par for our county’s course these days.

But I am so sick to death of the negativity. I am so tired of certain political pundits, organized groups and news sources gleefully green-lighting hateful discourse. I am so tired of destructive, spiteful words. I am fed up with a party whose sole purpose is to simply stop any and all bipartisan efforts to fix what we have ALL played a part in dismantling one way or another.

Enough.

I didn’t like Bush in office. Shocking, I know. And sure, I may have been a little seethy towards him. I may have disagreed with pretty much everything that came out of his mouth. And I may have said my piece about that too. But I sat myself down to listen every time he had something to say. I wanted there to be something for me to go on, to be hopeful about. I WANT to like our leadership and SEE positive steps forward, no matter whose party is at the helm. I knew we had to work with what we had.

I see so little listening. I see too many minds made up. I see very few attempts at kind of trying to work it out, you know, for the sake of our country.

And there is certainly no doubt in my mind that all of this frustration and loss we’ve experienced as a nation has fueled a very dangerous vein of anger. Its coursing along and gaining speed rapidly as one person whispers to another that its ok to hate a party you don’t agree with, its ok to hate a president you didn’t vote for, its ok to hate something you aren’t familiar with, its ok to hate something that doesn’t exactly fall in line with your super special beliefs.

All of this frustration, loss and anger should be directed into constructive channels, ones that force us all up off our asses and MAKE us take some responsibility for our neighborhoods, our communities, our towns, cities and ultimately our country.

We’ve only been with this administration for one year. And there are a lot of agenda items trying to go down – because they must go down – at once. It’s not going to be served up to us on a silver platter in a matter of 12 months. Especially while we sit on our couches, snap nasty retorts at our televisions and do nothing positive to fix any part of it.

Get over yourselves.

Don’t point fingers.

STOP HATING.

DO something. Anything.

Take care of one another.

Move forward. Up and out.

It’s on all of us.

Enough already.

Damn.

One Day No Hate on October 6th

I’ve been a little burnt out on politics recently. And why is that? Hate and anger have become a normal, tolerable part of political and partisan discourse. Slinging words such as “Nazi” are considered acceptable and perfectly justified. Folks crow about misusing the racist card, but I’ve never seen so many examples of racism and fear in my country before. Not to say my party is innocent of lobbing hateful verbiage at the other side. Keith Olbermann has been making me cringe recently, and I usually love me some Keith.

We are locked down in division, partisan hate and discourse are at an all time high and there seems very little hope of any forward momentum between parties.

And you know what? It exhausts me to even post about this. If you want to know more about my thoughts on our partisan woes, read them here. Because I’m not up to rehashing it any more than I already have right now. It plain old bums me out.

But it’s not as if I can just turn away from politics and standing up for what I believe in either.

Last weekend, Joanne Bamberger (aka Pundit Mom) lead a panel on politics and blogging at the Type A Mom Conference. Not surprisingly, the topic immediately turned to the negativity in current politics. People on both sides are angry and nothing is being achieved with the one upping, the name calling, the seething hate, the taunts that “you lie!”

Folks, nothing is getting done this way. Nothing. Not when there is so much disrespect for one another, not when you or I must prepare for personal assault if we dare offer up any slice of our political persuasions. Not if the space for discourse isn’t safe, isn’t open, isn’t respectful or isn’t mature enough to tolerate differences.

So while we all left our discussion with visions of “safe, bipartisan political spaces” dancing in our heads, the fabulous Down To Earth Mama let me know about Jane Devin’s effort coming up next week. What she proposes is this.

One day with no hate.

On October 6th, Jane suggests that we allow ourselves one day where we drop our pretenses, our built up prejudices, our grudges, our self-righteous “I’m better than you” crap. One day where we quiet down, breathe, look over to the other side and LISTEN. Maybe we can use it as an exercise to find common ground with those we feel so polarized from. Maybe we try the whole “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” thing. Maybe we can find some peace somewhere in the middle of this whole mess.

Because if we can’t accomplish ONE day of no hate, we’re in big trouble.

But if we can accomplish one day, maybe that means we can try out a few days without hate. Or a week. Or longer.

So let’s try one day. What do you say?

The twitter hashtag is #1Day0Hate . And go over to Down to Earth Mama for the code for the button I have pasted above and in my sidebar.

One day people. Can we do this?

My Top 20 List of the Best Women Political Bloggers

This is my third post in a series written to honor Women’s History Month. My life has been profoundly influenced and affected by women writing and advocating on my behalf. And now, as I spend my days in a thinking, blogging, posting frenzy, I fancy myself a writer of sorts too. So, it’s high time I acknowledge the women that inspire. Here is my list of top 20 recommended women political bloggers, in no particular order.

Before we get started, please note that I did ask my fellow bloggers and readers who they read also. So this list includes my favorites along with those who have been recommended to me.
Ok then. Here we go.

1. Momocrats: While this is in no particular order, I still must put the Momocrats at the top of my list. As hardworking mothers and progressive thinkers, it often seems as if these women are speaking and advocating exclusively on my behalf when I read their posts. They are amazing writers, they know what they are talking about and the world is sitting up to listen to them.

2. Punditmom is my “go to” political blogger. When something is going down, I want to know what a smart, liberal minded, feminist pundit has to say about it. PM comes through for me every time. And sometimes you’ll even catch her speaking her mind on CNN and Fox too.

3. Julie Pippert is probably smarter than all of us put together. She’s extremely well informed, passionate about her politics and is a mother like so many of us.

4. Queen of Spain is kind of political blogger celeb in my mind. She landed an interview with President Obama during the election and has been seen on TV and at major political events ever since.

5. Writes Like She Talks is a fantastic political blogger and has written for Newsweek.com, has made several appearances on CNN and is a columnist. She is certainly a political blogger to be reckoned with.

6. Sairy is a Momocrat who’s found herself reporting from a White House Press conference, amongst other things. Here is her full bio – she is an important voice worth following.

7. Angry Black Bitch: Straight forward, very brilliant and never afraid, I met Shark-Fu on my first day of BlogHer 08 and have been reading her ever since.

8. Viva La Feminista writes as a feminist, Latina and mother – her voice is powerful, her message is important.

9. Mombian is an established lesbian family blog which discusses political topics affecting rights (or lack thereof) for same sex parents.

10. Feministing “is an online community for feminists and their allies.” The women here have created a talented and diverse community as they advocate for equal and human rights.

Other blogs recommended to me:

11. Citizen Jane Politics is described as an un-partisan, independent, political blog from women.

12. Blonder Than You is a DC blogger shooting straight from the hip, so to speak.

13. Women Wired In is a blog created for and about women, politics and technology.

14. Bang the Drum describes herself as a die-hard democrat and political junkie. She’s also a mom of three and lives in CA.

15. Working mom, Democrat, Patriot is exactly what her name suggests. Check her out.

16. The Feministe: To quote directly from their bio, “Feministe is one of the oldest feminist blogs designed by and run by women from the ground up.” Now go read it.

17. The Little Pink Clubhouse claims that she has a “consuming interest in politics” and writes from a small town outside Seattle.

18. HeartFeldt Politics is written by Gloria Feldt, a women’s activist whose voice is heard – and read – everywhere from the Huffington Post to the New York Times.

19. Womanist is written by a mother who describes herself as a pacifist, anti-racist and humanist – oh yeah, and a woman-ist.

20. The Political Voices of Women: If 20 women political bloggers just aren’t enough for you, check out the Political Voices of Women where you will find over 500 women telling it how it is.

For all that these bloggers do to keep me informed and advocate on my behalf, I am grateful. Happy Women’s History Month to all of these political bloggers and the women they reach.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

Is Obama’s Hope for Bipartisanship Possible?

It’s week one for President Obama and he faces an overwhelming to do list; a tangled rats nest of diplomatic, economic and environmental issues – all of which are deemed an absolute priority. However, our President has made one thing very clear. In order to succeed at untangling any of this mess, our country must unify, shake off bad partisan habits, and move forward as one nation. But after all the anger across party lines over this past year – heck, over this past decade – is national bipartisanship actually possible?

During President Obama’s historical inaugural speech, he turned to the nation and announced:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Bipartisanship was clearly his priority the night before his inauguration as Obama attended a number of dinners, one honoring John McCain, where he aimed to demonstrate his intentions to unify this country.

And while President Obama’s stimulus plan only needs the majority number of votes to pass, he hopes for more. Obama is aiming for at least 80 votes to demonstrate to the nation that our government acts with one voice working together to solve our economic issues.

Before and since Obama was sworn in as our new leader, he has prioritized efforts to reach across party lines. There are an endless number of examples and Jonathan Martin at Politico lists many of them here. However, many are still skeptical whether these bipartisan efforts will actually work – and for various reasons.

Jake Tapper, an ABC White House correspondent, pointed out examples where Obama critiqued McCain during the election year – and at the time, he was clearly not in a bipartisan frame of mind. Will conservative citizens forget his criticisms and allow this water to pass under the bridge?

And that stimulus plan? Well, even if it is likely to pass, folks on both sides of the fence think such an idealistic goal of 80 votes is unlikely. Jay Newton Small from Time Magazine explains that Obama will either have to reach much further over to the Republican camp, which would disappoint supporters – or push the plan ahead going against his bipartisanship ideologies. Newton-Small writes:

“Obama may quickly find himself forced to choose between betraying his party and betraying his principles.”

Ed Kilgore wrote about Obama’s bipartisanship goals at the Huffington Post – and he too recognizes those that are skeptical his efforts will work. He writes:

“Call it ‘bipartisanship,’ ‘nonpartisanship,’ or ‘post-partisanship,’ this strain of Obama’s thinking is impossible to ignore, and has pleased and inspired some listeners while annoying and alarming others.”

Kilgore explains further about the possibility of Obama’s bipartisan intentions:

“Among self-conscious progressives and conservatives alike, there’s a prevailing belief that Obama’s ‘bipartisan’ talk is largely a tactical device without real meaning — and a lingering fear that he might really mean it. “

So, critics seem to think Obama’s bipartisan efforts are not genuine but some underhanded method to get what he wants? Or worse still, if he does mean it and politicians drop their baggage at the door, where does that leave both parties? Will they have to (gasp) compromise and listen? Have open discussion and actually tolerate differing opinions? That’s just not how Washington works. Right?

FireDogLake.com goes so far as to say that Obama cares more about bipartisanship than a stable economy. RealClearPolitics.com explains that bipartisanship is not such a great idea after all because it requires both sides to work together – and if one side has got it all wrong, the entire effort will be diminished.

And let’s not forget Rush Limbaugh. Like him or not, he has a huge conservative audience that hangs on to his every word. What are his thoughts on Obama’s bipartisanship efforts? Well, go see for yourself. But he certainly doesn’t think conservatives should “drink the Kool-aid”.

So what do everyday people think? Well, I was discouraged looking back at the comments of the Politico article I mentioned above. But not everyone considers Obama’s efforts impossible. Corina Fiore from Down to Earth Mama explained to me:

“Obama’s bipartisanship agenda is possible. As a nation, we know that with hard work, determination, intelligence and common purpose, anything is possible… This task, though, is difficult with so many egos and so many different ideals to consider.”

And then another blogger, Wendy Piersell from Totally Her, relayed to me that:

“I hope/think the Obama administration will change the dynamic between parties forever. But politics will always be partisan.”

I agree with both. Opposing parties and differing opinions are important for this country to check and balance itself. Our country is defined by its diverse perspectives – we don’t all agree and it’s our right that we don’t have to. That being said, President Obama simply wants to keep the door open. No idea or suggestion aimed at fixing our nation’s problems should be ignored based on party affiliation. Let’s keep an open mind and sit down to fix this together. We may all not get exactly what we want but, if our country is better off for the compromises we’ve made in 5 years, it will all be worth it.

And bipartisan efforts should extend even as far as Type A Mom. Please make sure to jump over, welcome and read future articles by our new Conservative Mom Editor, Krista Herling! Welcome Krista!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

Plan a Party to Celebrate the Inauguration

inaugballoons

Picture from Obama’s First Day

The countdown in on – there are less than two weeks until Barack Obama is elected president! And this liberal mom thinks the occasion calls for a celebration. If you are as excited as I am, and game for a get together, here are some ideas to host your own fabulously patriotic inauguration party.

Plan the Party

First thing’s first however: unfortunately, the date and time are not exactly “party-worthy”. The inauguration will be held on Tuesday, January 20th and President-elect Obama will officially be sworn in at noon. A parade will follow that afternoon and of course, all major networks will be covering the event. (Even Nickelodeon will be covering the event with young reporters!)

But back to the issue. Noon on a Tuesday is not exactly the time to host a hugely impressive gala. So there are a few options to consider.

  • If you are home that day, host a fun get together with other parents who are home also
  • If you usually work, consider playing hooky – and tell your partner to do the same
  • Have a Tuesday night BBQ or early get together to celebrate
  • Host an inaugural ball of your own the weekend before or after

Invitations

Now that you have decided what kind of party works best for you, it’s time to think about the invites. Sure, it’s a little late, but if your friends are as fired up to celebrate this event as I am, they will leap at the chance to ring in this new presidency. But since the date is coming up fast, consider sending evites. My Punchbowl is my favorite alternative to Evite and it has some fabulous invites at their site.

Regarding who you invite, obviously invite folks who share your own political views. But please consider inviting those that don’t also. In the spirit of bringing this nation together to solve these upcoming issues as Americans, make sure your invites go out to friends of yours on both sides of the political fence.

Decorations

Obviously, as we are all feeling patriotic, you should decorate in red, white and blue. I would also consider adding some sparkle to your event, especially if you hold your event at night. Get creative and recycle red table cloths you may still have from Christmas or some glittery decorations from New Years. String up a few Christmas lights with your red, white and blue too!

Food

The possibilities for food options are endless. You could go with traditionally American foods such as hot dogs and apple pie. Since Obama is from Hawaii, you could serve traditional Hawaiian foods. Ehow offers some great ideas:

“You can choose fun themed foods such as ‘Buffalo LEFT Wings,’ or how about some ‘Campaign Trail Mix?’ Other ideas that are clever include: ‘Lipsticked Pigs In a Blanket,’ ‘Sloppy Joe Bidens’, ‘Barack of Lamb’, and ‘Shredded Pork (Barrel) Sandwiches.’… Keeping the fun theme going for the drinks, why not create a shot and call them ‘Cheney Shooters.’”

I would also consider serving some of Obama’s favorite foods. He is a big fan of Italian pizza. Also, NPR found recipes for some of his favorite Mexican dishes.

Don’t forget Michelle’s favorite shortbread cookies for dessert! And, of course, serve “Yes Pecan” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Drinks

Apparently Obama’s favorite beer is Bud Lite which is easy enough to serve. And I would throw in some Busch beer too, just for fun. But what are some other patriotic, theme appropriate drinks to serve? You can find 10 “all American” cocktail ideas at Fine Living.com. Also, here is a fun recipe for Patriotic Punch. And then Hawaiian themed cocktails are also fun, and probably very welcome in the midst of winter.

Music

Considering that Aretha Franklin will be singing at the inauguration, her music must be a part of your playlist. Other options for Obama favorites can be found on his Facebook page:

“Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johann Sebastian Bach (cello suites), and The Fugees”

Games

DivaGirl offers some fun Inauguration games including having guests participate in some presidential trivia. While your group watches Obama’s speech, Ehow shares Bingobama. Print out copies for everyone!

Don’t forget about the kids – they may want to be a part of the inaugural fun as well! Kaboose.com has some excellent ideas such as making your own parade stick, presidential coloring pages and fun family quizzes.

More party ideas can be found at any of these sites:

And finally, if you are serious about hosting an inauguration bash for your entire community, visit Move on.org for more information about how to set one up.

Further Inauguration information:

Happy January 20th!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

Maintain the Grassroots Momentum and Make Change Happen

On November 4th, we elected Barack Obama to become our 44th President. And on that evening, as a democrat, a woman and an American citizen, I could not have been more proud of my country. In a couple months, we will celebrate his election with an Inauguration, as he’s officially given the title “President of the United States of America”. But afterwards, with confetti still falling to the ground and his pencils freshly sharpened, we will be left to wonder… “Now what?” It’s time for change, right? So how does that happen? One thing is certain: Obama will have to work very hard to right this sputtering, smoking plane that we call our country. But we’re all passengers on that plane, and its up to all of us to fix it.

Over the past year, I think what amazed me most about Obama’s campaign was the unique, unprecedented support he received from individual voters. He made an effort to interact with voters in a way no other has. Yes, his outstanding speeches and a well thought out policy for change certainly resonated with citizens. Those two points were impressive in their own right. But what truly inspired me was how many people took charge and decided to give this election momentum by their individual actions.

Patrick Levine Rose wrote an insightful article about his experience working on the Obama campaign. Once again, it is a testament to how many people went door to door, how many phone calls were made, personal emails sent out, new voters registered, millions of donations (offering as little as $5.00 a piece) were given, large rallies and small get togetherswere organized. There is no doubt in my mind that this election was won because of powerful, individual grassroots efforts. He will be President not because of one brilliant campaign manager and a ton of loot – he will be President because thousands of regular people heard an important message and were called to action. Regular folks, with hardly much political clout other than their right to vote, are the ones who ushered Obama into the White House. What an inspiration.

So now we live in a country that has seen the power of individuals focused on a common goal. We know a grassroots effort can work. Thanks to every individual involved in his campaign, Obama will become President at the start of this upcoming year. And he has one hell of a mess on his plate. Obama Zombies aside, should we retire our Obama pins, put our feet up and breathe a sigh of relief exclaiming that everything will now be taken care of? Um, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. If we ever needed to get organized and do our part, it would be now. In my opinion? We have to keep up this kind of momentum if we want to get our plane running smoothly on all cylinders again.

Here’s the first step. Consider some of these questions and think through ways you might be able to make a difference on a local level:

What do you expect of our country? What do you expect your responsibilities are as an American citizen? What can we do as individuals withbusy lives? What can we do as mothers? How can we come together with Americans who didn’t vote for Obama? (Because guess what, we need their help too.) What can we do on a daily basis to change our environment? Can we stop hate on a local level? What can we do to fix this economy? (I can’t help but wonder if more shopping will stimulate our economy or just get us all in more debt?) What do we teach our children or how do we involve them at their schools? How can our place of business make a difference?

Now I need your feedback. I am going to list some spots where we can go online to get involved and make this exciting new concept of “change” actually start to happen. But these are certainly not the only places we can go to make a difference. Check out my list and then comment back with some of your suggestions. Think about those questions and remember that individuals working on a grassroots level can actually move this country forward. Yes we can because… yes we did.

Change.gov: Obama is offering Americans a platform to “Tell their story”. Take some time to write your perspective, your ideas and how you might want to see change happen.

BarackObama.com : If you volunteered for his campaign or would like to volunteer in the future, log in and take the survey offered.

Momsrising.org : A bipartisan group promoting mother’s rights.

MoveOn.org : A progressive, liberal group bringing individuals into the political process.

Dividedwefail.org: The AARP, SEIU and NFIB have created this group to bring about bipartisan change.

Wecansolveit.org: Founded by Al Gore, a non profit, bipartisan group focused on climate change. There is currently a petition asking you to support the EPA’s regulation of carbon monoxide pollution. If you are interested, click here. You have until Friday, November 28th to sign the petition.

HRC.org : A civil rights organization advocating on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens.

What groups or websites would you add to this list?

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

Yes, We Did It: My Thoughts the Day After Obama’s Victory

It happened. Obama was elected president last night. How could I possibly express how extraordinarily proud of my country I am right now. It is a new chapter in our history and a moment I will never forget.

But I gotta tell ya. I am completely overwhelmed and utterly exhausted by it all. Its as if my emotional mainframe has been entirely blown out. There is so much to process about what this all means for us. In fact, as soon as I start thinking about all of it, I get choked up and totally distracted. So I stop myself and stay on task. Life must go on here – off to drop of T. at school, off to wal-mart for a new trash can, off to get flu shots…

Still, I can’t resist saying a few things today. Just a few thoughts. And then I will be on my way, to regroup and be back refreshed to post on another day.

First of all, I am struggling to really truly understand the depth of what it means to have finally elected an African American president. As we watched Obama’s speech last night and Congressman Lewisthis morning, my husband said he never thought he would see the day. I thought about it and said I had thought I would see such a day. Then I wondered why I have been so optimistic about that possibility. Well, I think its because I have seen another impossibility happen before.

On February 11, 1990, I happened to be in Johannesburg visting friends (I lived and went to high school in Swaziland at the time). Do you know what happened that day in history? Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I will never forget the sound of that entire city raised up in celebration. During my years living in its neighboring country, the impossible happened for South Africa: Apartheid was abolished, Nelson Mandela was freed and he became president. While I certainly can’t really compare the politics and complexities of the United States and South Africa, I can compare the utter joy of that day. And since then, I have believed anything is possible.

Another fleeting thought in my mind right now is how much repair this country needs. This election tore us all apart. While I listened to the radio this morning, it was as if the DJs thought Obama being elected was a sign of the end of days. There are grumblings about socialism and terrorism and baby killing. While ridiculous, I feel its a sign of fear and misunderstanding about Obama’s potential for leadership. We need to figure out a way to reconnect again and, even if Obama was not your choice, find the strength to bring ourselves back together immediately.

The realist in me won’t let me forget another very important point either. Why is it so damn important that do we bring ourselves together right now? No doubt about it, we have a hell of a lot of work to do to fix our problems. While Obama will be president, it is up to ALL of us to take responsibility and put our country back together again. Lets stop pointing fingers (Bush, Obama, McCain, Karl Rove, Cheney, either Clinton) – enough already, lets get focused and fix ourselves.

And one more thing. Bans on gay marriage passed in California, Florida and Arizona. Discrimination lives on. This is a wake-up call for all of us that nothing can be fixed over night – even a night as amazing as last night. We need to keep working and pushing forward to assure equal rights for every American. It’s only a mandate in our constitution after all…

Finally I will leave you with this video of Obama’s victory speech last night. What a moment in our history. Once again, I am deeply proud to be an American this morning.

(Phew. And I am really so damn tired. More from me – more fun stuff from me, I promise – once I reboot this worn out, run down, over thought system of mine.)

Are Liberal Citizens “American” Citizens?

It is not the first time that my patriotism has been called into question for being liberal. However Governor Palin’s recent comments caught me in a vulnerable moment. On the cusp of casting what may be the most important vote of my lifetime, I have never felt more proud to be an American citizen. And yet, with a mere two weeks left in the campaign, my party and my beliefs may be deemed yet again as un-American. And I think it’s time I stand up for myself as a proud citizen of this country.

We believe the best of Amierica is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and goodness and courage of everyday Americans.

Governor Palin said these words at a fund-raiser in North Carolina recently. Now, I would not argue that those she was speaking to were, in fact, ”American”. But those folks at the fundraiser were certainly no more American than the families living here in the suburbs of Florida, or the Burroughs of New York City, or even on the icy plains of her own State of Alaska. Assuming that one group of citizens are “more” American than another is simply ridiculous. But her speech comes across as one more undeserved swipe at citizens who don’t fit into a certain narrow ideal of “Americanism”. In fact, liberal citizens (such as myself) have become quite used to questions about our patriotism. And raise your hand if you’ve heard the mumbled implication that you might be (cue the disgusted sneer on the accusers face): a communist. What is UP with this?

Throughout my life, I have continued an American tradition of sorts, something my forefathers did before me: I question those in authority. It is my right to do this and I consider it about as American as apple pie. And while I may have disagreed with certain politicians or some of their policies, I have never faltered in my own confidence as an American. Sure, I didn’t grow up in small town U.S.A. (I lived abroad in High School) or attend a senior prom or date a Joe Six-pack type. But I am still American, right? My perspective and background have just added to that whole “melting pot” idea, right? And as for questioning those leading this country - well, isn’t that the beauty of being American? As a democratic nation, I can question, I can express myself, I can be whomever I want to be here. God Bless this place, for real.

After September 11th, our country became very afraid and for good reason. We had been attacked and thousands of innocent people lost their lives. But the fear and hate which sprung from this attack has been frightening to witness. As the years passed and war was waged, the message was very clear: “You are either with us, or against us”. If I didn’t agree with the war, the policies of the current administration or my President: I was considered un-American. During these past few years, my American round peg has not exactly fit into this very limited, short-sighted variety of patritotic square hole. Our country’s definition of “Americanness” should not remain so simplified or single minded any longer.

I am a liberal American. I believe in equal and human rights in a democratic nation. I believe in protecting the limited resources on our planet and in our country – not destroying them. I believe in freedom of speech of every form – not intimidated silence. I believe in the right to vote, as a collective nation, to determine our leader – never denying any citizen this opporitunity. I believe in the unique diversity of this country – not polarized sameness, or fear of the unknown. I believe that all citizens, of every background, are in fact 100% American – no matter how I much I may agree or disagree with them.

Early voting has begun in many states around this country. It is time for our nation to excerise it’s right to choose it’s own leader. In the spirit of a new, redefined and multi-faceted brand of patriotism, please go out and do the most “American” thing you can do right now: vote. Let’s see what the “real” America is all about.