My Epic Inauguration Blog:
PART 1: Yes, I’m bitter.
Honestly the details leading up to it aren’t that interesting, suffice it to say I did everything I could have done and was supposed to do to get in. I had tickets in one of the best sections, I arrived at the crack of dawn, dressed ready for a snowstorm, ticket in hand. My dear friend M and I made friends with the smartest people in the crowd near our gate- at least we thought it was our gate, as there were NO OBVIOUS SIGNS. it’s not as if 1.8 million people needed to be directed through about 5 square blocks!!!! but I digress. One guy in the group was standing on a fire hydrant so that he could see over the crowd while his friend propped him up- he was able to see a Purple Gate in front of our crowd, which was the best we could do, as were were also on the correct street according to the map. We started calling this guy whose name was Pat, President Pat. As people would walk by, they would ask him to direct them the best way to go through the crowd. He had flown in from London, and his friends had flown in from Oklahoma City. Thank God for President Pat. He spent several hours keeping people from being trampled or getting into fights.
The crowds were NUTS. Thank God we made friends with the people around us, because we were thisclose for about 3 hours. We kept thinking the gate would open, some places said it would open at 8, others 9, so we kept up hope. the police drove cars through the crowd more than once, which I will never understand. they were the ones who created the maps that told the crowds where to go, they were the one who knew there were going to be unprecedented numbers, why the hell did they choose to drive on those streets??!! at one point about 9 a cop got on a megaphone about 2 blocks away, and we only heard parts of his directions through President Pat, who yelled at him to repeat himself several times. if not for Pat we would have had no idea what was said although it was still sketchy. that point was when some people headed to the Purple Tunnel of Doom, as it came to be known later (in the facebook group with over 5000 members). M and I were pretty sure that that tunnel lead to the Blue gate, and didn’t trust the cop’s direction, so didn’t go. As it turned out, it did not lead to the Blue gate but thousands of people stood in that tunnel for hours and didn’t get in.
after a while more, President Pat and his group gave up, and M and I decided that if they were ever going to open our gate, we at least had time to walk a couple blocks to her apt to unfreeze. at this point I had hand warmers in my gloves AND shoes just to try and keep feeling in them. by this time, M and I had made friends in the crowd with a girl who worked for the NRCC. hilarious if you know M and I! but that day, we were all just freezing, frustrated Americans. So we left, unfroze at Monica’s and when we got back to the gate about 20 mins later it was moving!!! so we would move, then stop, move then stop, move really really far, then stop for a long time. and let me be clear, there were never any police or officials of any kind directing the lines, no signs directing us, nothing.
but I do need to give credit to the people in the crowds. the reason there were no riots or injuries at Inauguration is NOT because the police or security did anything right, it’s because there were good people there, who were there for the right reasons. let’s just say those cars driving through the crowds would not have been let through in oakland, they would have been flipped in 30 seconds flat. those people loved America, loved what being there meant, and yes, loved Barack Obama. so because of that, every time someone started to get pushy they were stopped, every time someone needed a doctor they were let out of the crowd, and most of us were talking to each other. many people had worked on the campaign, many people were from out of town.
So the line ended up being a big tease and at 11:35, there were at least 2000 people still in front of us, and M helped me realized it was never going to happen, as the ceremony started at noon. We could see some empty security lines in front of us, apparently one problem was the security equipment ran out of power and they didn’t have backup generators, something like that. again, the number of tickets that were given was well known, I don’t see why they didn’t prepare. I had thought all along that I wanted to stand in line to try to get in until the last minute, so that I could tell my family and my future children that I tried. but when it came down to it, I really just wanted to see it. I was not willing to miss witnessing this event in some form, and I fully believed I never would have got in. So M and I sprinted to her apt, where we arrived in time to see the ceremony and the speech, and thaw out again.
So I’m very dissapointed. I go back and forth between totally letting it go, and being really upset. the more I read about the true organizational disaster that it was, and how at least 5,000 others didn’t get in as well, the harder it is for me to let it go. This kind of thing is exactly why people hate government: government (in this case, Capitol Police, DC police and Inaugural Committee staff) had more than enough time, information and resources to prepare, and for whatever reason chose not to.
I realize that I do live in DC and am getting to be a part of so much of what Obama is about, something i’m excited about. I’m also sure I’ll have the chance to meet him someday, which will be great. I am truly thankful for all that! However, at the end of the day, I didn’t get to se this historical moment, and there’s nothing that makes up for that or changes it.
M: thank you for being the best inauguration buddy ever. Thanks for supporting me while also being realistic about the situation. When I was in a low moment, thanks for helping me focus on the positive and all that I have to be thankful for. Inauguration 2013 is gong to be great!! 🙂
PART 2: Ok, that was awesome
So I slept the rest of Inauguration Day. Wednesday night I went to the Obama Staff Ball, which was open to Obama staff (obviously) as well as people who’d worked at the DCCC (me) or DSCC. Since it wasn’t on Inauguration night, it wasn’t an official ball, so I thought it was sort of going to be an afterthought. I was wrong!!
I brought my super fun friend CH. When we arrived, we realized this party was no afterthought. Security was pretty intense which is when we realized the President was for sure going to be there! and I was extremely impressed with how quickly they got everyone inside despite the intense security- it proved it really IS possible to be safe and efficient at the same time. The huge room was nice, and food and drinks were FREE! When we got there, Arcade Fire was finishing their set. A little bit after they left, the Bidens came out! Joe was sooooooooo excited and happy, he was just radiating. and I really love Jill so it was fun to see her. And yes, we did chant “Jill baby Jill!” at one point 🙂 Then about 15 minutes later David Plouffe came out, and he was great. He’s the man who really made it happen, God Bless him. After he spoke, it was about another 30 mins and then the PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY came out! it was crazy to see them in person. Michelle was wearing jeans, you could tell she was just done with all the fanciness of the weekend. and the President was just wearing a suit. They seemed pretty tired, but really happy, and comfortable being with the people there. Obama spoke and after a few minutes he said “I said I would only speak for a minute, but here I am still talking!” and sort of laughed at himself, and he kept right on talking. He just thanked us again and again, and looked out and said “Everyone’s so young! No wonder you guys didn’t listen when they said this couldn’t be done- you didn’t know any better!” which, if you think about it, is probably true. Anyway, it was so great to see them. then after THAT, Jay-Z came out!!! He was so crazy fun. He’s such a good performer, even though I didn’t know all the songs it was great. At one point they put a big picture of Bush up behind him and everyone started booing. He was like, “ok everyone, I know, I know, but he was our Commander in Cheif, so we’re gonna send him out right.” Then he had us sing along with him to “99 problems” but we changed it to “99 problems but a Bush ain’t one!” hahaha! it was soooooooooo fun….
Absolutely one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.
So yes, the party did make me feel a lot better about missing Inauguration. I do still think the incompetent people who caused so much disappointment and chaos should pay, but yes, I realized I’m incredibly blessed and got to have an awesome, awesome Inauguration experience at the Staff Ball.
oh, and the most important thing: OBAMA IS PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!