The Final Hours of the Disaster and The Second Great Emancipator

I’ve been com­plain­ing that late­ly it’s tak­en me a long time to write these entries, and I’m not sure why. Per­haps I’m try­ing to cram too much into them, or I’m fuss­ing too much with the word­ing or details, or per­haps I’m get­ting dis­tract­ed more often (by Twit­ter, Face­book, or per­haps some task I should actu­al­ly be doing). In any case, I think that I’ll work on this until I don’t want to any more, and then just hit the Pub­lish but­ton, whether it’s a pol­ished epis­tle or not. Call it blog­ging Ker­ouac Style.

First, impres­sions of this spe­cial week in the con­text of his­to­ry: So much of the past cou­ple of days and com­ing hours is a reminder of how our life changed, how it took a dif­fer­ent turn main­ly because of a change in gov­ern­ment. Some friends and fam­i­ly were sur­prised that we did it: “You’re leav­ing because some guy got elect­ed? What does that have to do with you?” I think that per­haps those who were skep­ti­cal that any admin­is­tra­tion in Wash­ing­ton D.C. could have any direct influ­ence on the way their lives went may now be recon­sid­er­ing that assump­tion. The wrong peo­ple at the top, and you can poten­tial­ly lose every­thing. While I’m not sure that the par­tic­u­lar peo­ple who ques­tioned our emi­gra­tion from the Unit­ed States actu­al­ly lost their homes or sav­ings, I’ll bet that they have shak­en their heads in the won­der of just how much dam­age a few key peo­ple — Pres­i­dent, Vice Pres­i­dent, Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury— can actu­al­ly do.

Back to the images on the TV and the com­men­ta­tors on the radio and Inter­net: It seems as though now, the US is at last let­ting out it’s col­lec­tive breath. With the peo­ple around the Mall in Wash­ing­ton (and also the throngs of peo­ple con­gre­gat­ing by the rail­road tracks between Philadel­phia and Wash­ing­ton D.C. ear­li­er in the week), I think I see some­thing more than fan wor­ship, or even, as some cor­re­spon­dents seem to be char­ac­ter­iz­ing it, pride main­ly on behalf of the black com­mu­ni­ty. There is an irony that US Pres­i­dent Elect Barack Oba­ma took the same train route to the White House as Abra­ham Lin­coln did, and it’s not the irony that you might think I mean (that it’s because he is black). No, it’s because Lin­coln was called The Great Eman­ci­pa­tor’, for his act of sign­ing the Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion, which freed the slaves and ush­ered in the War between the States. Oba­ma’s tremen­dous pop­u­lar­i­ty is also because he is act­ing essen­tial­ly as The Sec­ond Great Eman­ci­pa­tor. He’s not free­ing the slaves; he’s free­ing the Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ry from eight years of sub­ju­ga­tion.  There have been the begin­nings of reck­on­ings, includ­ing this page, which attempts to tal­ly the score of all the wrong Bush and his hench­men have car­ried out or let hap­pen on his watch. And also the spokesman for the out­rage that Bush has pro­voked, Kei­th Olber­mann, who almost suc­ceeds in com­press­ing the eight years of Bush into 8 min­utes (it real­ly is more like 9), and ends up sound­ing curi­ous­ly like the 1989 Bil­ly Joel song, We Did­n’t Start the Fire, which lists his­tor­i­cal events in the same rapid-fire style. The effect for the past 8 years, is more nau­se­at­ing then enlight­en­ing, but here it is:

With all of these reminders of how bad things got, I’m all the more con­vinced that this is not the time for us to return to the US. Our move to Cana­da was not an extend­ed vaca­tion from the US, no mat­ter how much Pres­i­dent Oba­ma renounces and attempts to reverse the deci­sions and screw-ups of the past eight years. For one thing, as I’ve told some, it would be a bad time to be look­ing for work in the US, no mat­ter where we moved. Rats don’t jump on to sink­ing ships. The econ­o­my here in BC, while not immune to the glob­al down­turn, is prob­a­bly about as good as it gets in the world these days. Sec­ond­ly, we pre­fer our life here, for rea­sons I’ve often laid out in this blog. We like the ener­gy and vital­i­ty of a young city that is grow­ing, rather than Boston, which was actu­al­ly decreas­ing in pop­u­la­tion. (I haven’t checked if this is still the case). We have new friends, new places to explore, Pam is embark­ing on a new career in Immi­gra­tion Con­sult­ing, and I’m hop­ing that my new posi­tion (which I admit I’ve not writ­ten about much, part­ly because it still has­n’t paid me a cent) will final­ly result in our get­ting some mon­ey com­ing in. There have been oth­er improve­ments that I know I’d miss if I returned to liv­ing in the US:  a cou­ple of weeks ago I got my first colonoscopy, which is some­thing that men are encour­aged to have when you get to my age. My doc­tor was thor­ough, the pro­ce­dure was as quick and pain­less as pos­si­ble, and the most expen­sive part of the whole event was park­ing at the UBC Hos­pi­tal park­ing lot. ($9). Uni­ver­sal Health Care, the new holy grail of speech­es and dis­cus­sions by pun­dits is a real thing here, and it works pret­ty well by me. I also don’t have to hold my tongue in my sup­port of same-sex mar­riage, or my antipa­thy toward reli­gion as I would be forced to do in the States.

In the final reck­on­ing, the dread­ful train wreck (as chron­i­cled above) that was the Bush Era may have been the force that pro­pelled us here to Van­cou­ver, but in the end, what has us stay­ing is a bet­ter life no mat­ter how much the US crawls back to the coun­try it once was, at least in our life­times. We are still stay­ing put, and I’ll be hap­py to write that here, on Face­book, in the LA Times (as I did the last time some­one asked me to write about it), or any­where else. The ques­tion is often posed almost jok­ing­ly (as if the ques­tion­er knew that the answer would be no even before I said or wrote it).

Oh, one last part­ing image of schaden­freude for Bush and Cheney: I just learned that Dick Cheney pulled a mus­cle in his back mov­ing box­es out of Blair House, the Vice Pres­i­den­t’s res­i­dence, and will have to appear at the Inau­gu­ra­tion and oth­er final pub­lic appear­ances glow­er­ing in a wheel­chair, like Old Man Pot­ter of It’s a Won­der­ful Life, (which I wrote about a cou­ple of weeks ago), hat­ed and feared. Life imi­tates Art.

3 Replies to “The Final Hours of the Disaster and The Second Great Emancipator”

  1. It was a won­der­ful sight­ing, to see Oba­ma con­duct him­self in the poised, ele­gant, self-assured way in which he con­duct­ed him­self. He IS a class act. I am very much look­ing for­ward to his future accomplishments.

  2. I agree. He looked (although I admit the adjec­tive is tau­to­log­i­cal) very Pres­i­den­tial. So much is on his shoul­ders, but if I had to pin my hopes on any can­di­date for the job, he’s the guy I’d choose.

  3. As David and I were dis­cussing the demise of the bush admin­is­tra­tion the oth­er night, I not­ed that there was one big pos­i­tive thing about the whole expe­ri­ence. He was ques­tion­ing: “What could that be?”

    It was the fact that with­out bush being the cat­a­lyst for us leav­ing the US, we would still be there.

    Grant­ed, Oba­ma is an improve­ment, but the US is still the US. Not Canada.

    I rest my case .…

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