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January 18, 2009 06:55 PM UTC

The Pilgrimage

  • by: dslater

(What an exciting trip – looking forward to updates.  Please disregard idiot Sankore’s posting on thread. – promoted by Laughing Boy)

(Cross-Posted to DemNotes at

I’m in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this morning. Yep, Harrisburg. Yesterday, we spent the entire day hopping from airport to airport to end up here – just a couple of hours north of our final destination: Washington DC.

It is a little reminescent of my first trip to Washington DC, way back in January 1993. Back then, a few of us Young Democrats from my school packed into a compact car and made the 20-hour drive from Norman, Oklahoma to watch the President we helped elect become, well, President. It was a breath-taking and exciting experience. But it was nothing like this time.

This time, I’m feeling a lot more emotional.

I wasn’t this emotional on election night – mind you, I was excited, happy, cheerful, just like on any other successful election night. But the sense of history this week seems much more palpable; it seems even more palpable than when we stood there in the Pepsi Center and nominated Barack Obama with tears streaming down so many faces.

I think, perhaps, this is more emotional because of the mass travel – from all colors, from all stripes of society – to Washington. Yes, it truly seems like a “pilgrimage”.

Heck, my presence in Harrisburg this morning is emblematic of that mass movement. Airline tickets here were about a third the cost of tickets to any of the three DC-area airports. It was a whole lot cheaper to fly here and rent a car to drive to DC than to fly directly there.

And we are not alone. On the final leg of our flight, from Chicago (how appropriate!) to Harrisburg, our flight was full – not a seat to be found – and it was full of folks whose final destination was not Pennsylvania nearly as much as it was Pennsylvania Avenue.

So, I’m getting emotional. Reading the special section of the Rocky on the plane yesterday – reading about those who are also making this trip, whether as a journey of personal fulfillment, or because they’re in the parade – I became a little teary-eyed. This is why we get involved in politics. Indeed, this is why we are Americans: the peaceful transition of power; the orderly transition from the status quo to an era of Hope. This historic nature of this is not lost on anybody around here.

Thanks to our wonderful Fremont County Vice Chair, Alain Chamot, we are staying with his incredibly hospitable and generous mother in her home in Northwest D.C. I’m not sure whether we will have Internet access, but if we do, I’ll try to write about what we do and see for the next few days. Tomorrow night, we attend the Colorado Ball here in D.C. Tuesday, of course, is the Inauguration and the Western Inaugural Ball. Finally, Wednesday will be filled with official meetings, both of the Association of State Democratic Chairs (in the morning, where we will elect a new President of the organization) as well as of the Democratic National Committee (where we will formally elect Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as our Chair).

But you don’t have to be in Washington to celebrate this history. Celebrations are going on in nearly every community in Colorado. Go to and use the comments section for this post to let everybody know what you’re doing and what this week means to you!  


41 thoughts on “The Pilgrimage

        1. So if I’m black I must need a hand-out from some spoiled white Republican kid? You think I’m one of your boy Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens”?

          I might be a queen, but not that kind. You ignorant racist honky.

          1. I suggest that you look in the mirror for ignorant and racist.  And by what superior morality do you get to call hima a “honky?”

            You are a really disgusting person, to say nothing of posting here. The good news based on several years of experience, is that you too, will one day stop. I guess your ilk move to greener pastures or something.  

            1. I think it’s Nancy Underpants.  

              No black man that I know would actually use the word “honky”, particularly not as an insult.  That’s a term probably used by folks whose main interaction with the African American community is watching “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons” on Nickelodeon.

              Kiss my squirrel, tool.

              1. Weird how “honky” never really caught on. “Cracker” either. White people don’t have good nicknames. I think “paleface” might be the best one we have, which isn’t saying much.

                Would be funny if it were Nancy, but I really think it’s RockySnark.

          2. .

            Please meet Barron X and give it to him; he will in turn get it to me.  


            all due respect.


            (nevermind that this is posted over someone else’s name.  I was over at his house and he was already logged in when I made this post)


  1. .

    Some of your peers deny that they’re religious, when what they really mean is that they have a new religion, one they helped create to meet their own spiritual needs, but which is very different from more traditional religions.  

    That’s just as much a religion as Christianity.

    Thnx for the honesty.


    1. rational, traditional, and charismatic. All of them can be useful, or dysfunctional, in various circumstances. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday (though both overshadowed and accentuated this year) we are about to celebrate, certainly utilized his charismatic authority to great effect. It is not necessarily a bad thing, whether in a secular or religious context. But the word “religion” evokes a set of defining factors, not just (nor always) emotional energy stoked by a charismatic leader. That there is some overlap between the emotional euphoria felt by people inspired by a charismatic leader and the emotional euphoria associated with certain religious rituals does not mean that they are in all ways identical. To be sure, there is some similarity between the emotional euphoria experienced at sporting events and rock concerts and that experienced in religious rituals, and yet few would claim that the former experience and the latter institution are in all ways identical.

      Religion can be a wonderful, progressive force in society. It can be a vehicle through which people feel and express enormous compassion, and experience the awe and humility from which wisdom grows. But religion can also be a vehicle of organized and assertive ignorance, and of militant divisiveness. Religion is not the problem; dogma is. Political dogma is just as toxic, and non-dogmatic religiousity is completely benign.

      Of the many impressive virtues Obama has already displayed, his tendency and commitment not to be dogmatic is prominent among them. So, if the phenomena surrounding his ascension to the presidency resemble religious phenomena in some ways, they do not resemble those aspects of religious phenomena which those “peers” who “deny they’re religious” would find cause for concern.

      Reality generally comes in finer gradations, and benefits from greater resolution, than is accomplished by words like “religion” and “pilgramage.” Sometimes, perceived hypocricy is a function of the coarse perceptions of the perceiver rather than of the inconsistent beliefs and actions of the perceived.  

      1. .

        you don’t think of Mr. Slater as highly dogmatic.  

        Maybe the problem is me.  Maybe that is a function of the coarse perceptions of me, as perceiver, rather than of the beliefs and actions of the perceived Diary author.  

        But my earlier interactions with him have reflected those dogma.  

        And I might take issue with your definition of “religion.”  I believe there is a “Obamania religion,” though not all of his supporters are necessarily adherents.  

        But count how many of them are looking to him for some sort of salvation.

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply.  


    2. and I worry about all the people out there who haven’t learned the only person who will do what you want every time, is you (even that’s not true, I rarely follow my own good advice).

      I hope Obama will be great, but I don’t see him being The Best There’s Ever Been or Will Be.  Most of what needs to be done shouldn’t be done quickly; where there are economic booms there are busts, apparently a drastic Iraq withdrawal isn’t doable (he already made a concession, so he must know something now that he didn’t before), even the closure of Camp Delta can’t come overnight, etc., etc.

      What happens if in ’10 there are still enough force in Iraq for people to think of it as occupied?  Or if there is an all out war in Afghanistan going the way of Iraq?  If the stimulus plans don’t work and we are much worse off?  All of these things are possible, probable, and maybe understandable, but a lot of first time voters are going to be heartbroken.  That’s, of course, why worshipping politicians, or celebrities for that matter, just isn’t a good idea.  I can absolutely guarantee that if those things happen none of the new Democrats are coming out to vote Ritter, but angry conservatives will be there to vote (are you ready?) Tancredo.  Gives me shivers and nightmares.

      1. there’s a balance to be struck between promoting rationality, and promoting socially useful myths. Two examples: “Natural Rights,” and “The Rule of Law.” “Natural Rights” is what I call a useful fiction: There are no rights in nature, period. They are completely and utterly a human invention, a product of political history. But the concept is a reification of a set of values that have developed that most of us here agree with and wish to promote. So reference to “natural rights” to which all people should be entitled, and the project of aligning our current reality with that ideal, is something I am 100% behind, even though I don’t believe that “natural rights” actually exist. Similarly, “The rule of law” is a fantastically useful myth, but the closer you examine how laws are made and interpreted, the more you discern the inevitable prominance of human subjectivity and caprice. Yet by channeling that caprice through various distilling processes, and by exaggerating the degree to which there are “laws” which “rule” us, we pacify domestic conflicts to some degree, to our collective benefit.

        I agree that the enthusiasm surrounding Obama is exaggerated, just as our belief in the power of the president to control events is exaggerated in general. But that enthusiasm is useful in itself. Just in regards to our current challenge, economic crises are mostly psychological phenomena, and their remedy is equally a function of psychology. Furthermore, an energized populace is a very valuable resource: People, not governments, make things happen.

        Having said all that, I do think that it is entirely possible (though too early to predict with confidense) that Obama will become, either while in office or in retrospect, one of our nation’s Great Presidents. In large part, precisely because he is able to generate such large quantities of emotional energy.

        1. …because the times require one. Our great presidents all faced perilous times – Washington faced could a Democracy work for such a large country, Lincoln the Civir War, FDR the depression & WWII, and Obama 8 years of Bush/Republican devastating administration.

  2. Wave to my niece – if she’s not frozen.

    WASHINGTON – The Punahou Marching Band practiced outdoors in Washington for the first time to get ready for the Presidential Inaugural Parade and a cold reality hit them hard.

    The students said they are excited about being in the parade, but it is serious business. The extreme weather makes it more challenging to stay in tune, march to the beat and even think.

    For its first practice at a park in downtown Washington, D.C., members of the Punahou Marching Band bundled up for the cold and some of them were unrecognizable. “I can’t feel my face anymore,” said Calla Chang, Punahou drum major.

    Apparently when they sent in their app to be in the parade, they got accepted immediately. Apparently having a graduate as president gets you moved to the top of the line 🙂

    1. …with the UF ROTC Billy Mitchell Drill Team. Largest crowd up to Tuesday’s.  Johnson was looking to someone on his right, not at us.  Oh, well.  

  3. Thanks for the report.  I wish to hell I could have figured out a way to go…walker and all.  However, I am hearing from friends from almost fifty years…everybody is trying to get to DC.  It is going to be a great day in the neighborhood.

    If you get a chance to see the whole parade..look for a group waving over 138 nation’s flags…it is the Returned Peace Corps Community….I have a friend carrying the one from Colombia…they promise to stop drinking and dancing long enough to march…

    Way to go, America.  

    PS. WTF is Sankore???  and why here, why now???  Philiadelphia has a large African-American majority…

  4. This rock concert/glitteratti atmosphere is completely inappropriate.  We have two shooting wars going on right now.  Unemployment is at a multi-year high with no sign of diminishing in the near term.  What is this guy thinking?        

    1. An unwarranted war, trashing the Constitution and doing a fly-by while New Orleans drowned? “Trusting” the financial wizards to act in the best interest of all?

      Was that appropriate?

      Why not let the new kids on the block have a party?

    2. that he doesn’t unilaterally dictate the nature of this event nor the actions of those who wish to participate, that citizens in times of crisis need and want national celebrations of unity and common cause, that there are expectations being placed on him that he would be unwise to simply disregard, that an important part of his job is to rally and motivate people, that symbolism is important, that history is being made, and that there is an established tradition of which he is a part.

      1. Obama people and the DNC have planned all of the extravagent events outside of the traditional parade and swearing-in ceremony.  This includes over $100 million in concerts, balls, parties, and fundraisers.  We are fighting two wars abroad and facing nearly unprecidented economic challenges at home. The new president sends the wrong signal by the unmatched and over the top extravagance of the sideshow that he is overseeing along side his inauguration.

        I guarantee John McCain would not have allowed such a spectical surrounding the inauguration during these challenging times.

        1. which is why he lost.  The election was a repudiation of the Republican party and the wars and economic misery caused by its irresponsibility and incompetence.

          so damn right, let’s get down and partay!

          1. Actually, McCain pulled 47% of the popular vote.  I’d be careful not to overreach.  It seems as if a lot of Obama’s acolytes have adopted his hubris lately.

            1. I don’t remember any of them talking about it in 2000. As far as I remember, what was important was the electoral college outcome, since that’s how the campaigns had actually been run.

              By that perfectly reasonable Constitutional standard, Obama won in a mind-boggling landslide which was almost enough to guarantee me free beer. In particular, it was a thorough repudiation of Republicans, not just in states like Pennsylvania and Iowa, but in Republican states like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada.

              Landslide, baby. Get used to it.

        2. Yes. Yes, it indeed did: the amount of money for the inauguration of the man who got us into two ground wars and turned us into a debtor nation was $157 million, when you consider the cost of security:

          However, buried in a recent New York Times article published one week before the controversy erupted over the cost of Obama’s inauguration, the newspaper reported that in 2005, “the federal government and the District of Columbia spent a combined $115.5 million, most of it for security, the swearing-in ceremony, cleanup and for a holiday for federal workers” [emphasis added].

          You read that correctly. The federal government spent $115 million dollars for the 2005 inauguration. Keep in mind, that $115 million price tag was separate from the money Bush backers bundled to put on the inauguration festivities. For that, they raised $42 million. So the bottom line for Bush’s 2005 inauguration, including the cost of security? That’s right, $157 million.

        3. “calling the shots” and having absolute power over events. If the enthusiasm surrounding Obama’s inaugeration were all fabricated by his executive decisions, then he would deserve even more credit than he already receives for his extraordinary skills. The fact, however, is that much of the enthusiasm is organic rather than contrived. Could he deny people the opportunity to express that enthusiasm, cultivating disappointment, ignoring the historic significance of his election, squashing rather than mobilizing the energy of the populace as a resource for promoting the public good? Sure. But that would be an incredibly stupid and collectively self-defeating thing to do.

    3. yet another concern troll spewing today’s right wing talking points.  See for the article. Not only are wingnuts joyless, they totally lack originality.

      And frankly, after eight years of fear, torture, anger,pestilence, small-mindedness, and paranoia, we could use a good party.  Not to mention a fumigation of the White House.

  5. This is all so damm much fun and Obama made it look easy.

    So, there was a real danger that kids today might not be appropriately aware of how god damm horrible prejudice has been in this country….but leave it to KOA….its talk show hosts have been on  a jag dragging up every racial stereotype about African-American families (black) welfare queens, no morales,etc.etc.etc….lest anyone forget what hate sounds like…just check out right wing radio…playing exclusively from Jim Crow America…..and get an idea of how long and winding and dangerous the road has been…

    I remember hitting peace corps training back in 1963. The men were from all kinds of relatively upper middle class backgrounds…given the draft in those days.  But the ladies?  disproportionately Irish Catholic….Kennedy was special for that community…….

    I see African-Americans just beaming in KIng Soopers and on the bus….and it makes my old heart glad.

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