Editorial: A cheaper inauguration

Inauguration day marks the fulfillment of a long journey for President-elect Barack Obama; as he is set to take office on January 20, 2009 with the country in economic crisis, the likes of which have not been felt in the U.S. in over three decades.

The economy is now officially in a recession with government bailouts soon to reach the trillions after all is said and done with the automakers and investment banks. It is in this climate that Obama is taking office, and these problems will be a part of the first things on Obama’s agenda to solve. However, the problems cannot wait until then.

This year, as many people fear the possible job loss and all the talk dominating conversations centers around foreclosures and bailouts, the president-elect has taken notice. With the present economic state, Obama’s inauguration should take a more relaxed tone.

The idea of a subdued inauguration is not a new concept in presidential history. Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office under what was the worst economic crisis in the history of the country. His inauguration, therefore, was not filled with expensive dinners and celebrations because that was not the tone he wished to depict. Now facing a similar time, Roosevelt’s example should be followed as much as possible.

Obama ran a campaign promising change and it appears that this change will be felt in the first official day of his administration. According to a report from CNN.com, President Bush’s second inauguration cost a record 42.8 million dollars and much of that was raised by donations from corporations and executives. This record sum was raised in contributions which could have reached up to 250,000 dollars per person.

Obama has preached distance from lobbyists from the start of his campaign and it appears he is now walking the walk to back up his talk. The Presidential Inaugural Committee has already set a limit for contributions at 50,000 dollars per person, despite the fact that there is no law restricting the amount which can be contributed.

The only question seems to be, was this really a surprise to anyone? Having an expensive inauguration which served the best food and drinks while so many are struggling, would have been as much a contradiction as a group of executives showing up in their private jet to ask for a bailout. In the month of November, 533,000 people lost their jobs – the highest number in 34 years. It does not exactly seem like the time to celebrate with million dollar parties.

With that being said, the event should not be totally forgotten or subdued. Obama’s victory was a historic event in American history and should be celebrated amongst the millions of people expected to pour into the city on inauguration day. The day marks the fulfillment of a dream many millions of Americans felt could never happen. That should be what is remembered; not a celebration with lavish decorations and the best food.

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