It's hard to believe but it's been just about fourteen years since William Jefferson Clinton was sworn in as the President of the United States. I keep track by gauging the age of my oldest daughter who just turned thirteen. Mrs. Wormer was pregnant with her when we went to Washington D.C. for the inauguration.
Mrs. Wormer and I had been very politically active - working to defeat a couple of horrendous anti-gay ballot measures - and she had purchased the trip to the inauguration as a surprise. The trip represented the fulfillment of a lifetime dream to see Washington with opportunity to be there live to see the Reagan era unceremoniously booted out the icing on the cake.
It was an incredible, one-in-a-lifetime experience. There were hundreds of thousands of like-minded progressives and Democrats strung throughout hundreds of tents on the mall and attending the various public inauguration ceremonies. Oddly enough the part that really sticks in my mind all these years later isn't the actual swearing in and Clinton's upbeat speech, but a public concert at the Lincoln Memorial a couple of days before.
Performing that night were Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Tony Bennett and Bob Dylan. But what sticks in my mind aren't those performances so much as an offhand question by emcee Whoopi Goldberg. At some point in the evening she asked the crowd "when's the last time you felt welcome in Washington?" We went nuts. It'd been a long damned time.
If you believe the polls and the chatterboxes on tv there's a pretty good chance we might be welcome in at least some parts of Washington again starting this January. I'm not as optimistic about our chances, having been burned pretty good the last couple of times out, but I really do hope they're right and the Democrats take congress. That feeling that D.C. actually belonged to the "we the people" and that it was okay to hope again was pretty wonderful.
I'd love to feel that again.