Monday, 17 December 2012

The Monday after the second Wednesday in December

Independence Hall seen from the National Constitution Centre, Philadelphia

We didn't vote for him.

We couldn't; we weren't in the country on election day.  We couldn't apply for an absentee ballot either.  We hadn't registered to vote.

We couldn't you see, we aren't citizens.  We aren't even residents, legal or otherwise.  We live in Scotland.

We would have voted for him if we could.

We don't usually watch the TV news in the morning.  If the TV is on it's for our son to watch cartoons while he waits for the school bus.

So why, that morning in November, were we sitting on the sofa watching the news, our breakfast bowls perched unsteadily on our knees as we punched the air and chanted "four more years, four more years"?  Is it just because the world sleeps safer when there is a Democrat in the oval office?

We chatted about it later over dinner. Her feelings on the matter were much the same as mine.  It was more than sleeping safer in our beds.  More than "The West Wing" making US politics seem so much more interesting than UK politics.  More than wanting the (moderate) left to triumph everywhere. 

It was that, when a black man whose middle name is "Hussein" and who has come out in favour of gay marriage can get re-elected President of the United States of America, it gives us all, wherever we are and whatever our dreams - to re-state the man himself - the audacity to hope.

                         Convention approves late vote -
                         Electoral College

The electors of the Electoral College vote today (the Monday after the second Wednesday in December) and the result will be declared when Congress meets in joint session on the 6th 4th* of January.

                         Come fresh from an election like the last,
                         The greatest vote a people ever cast,
                         So close yet sure to be abided by.

Not my words (I wish) but those of Robert Frost (from the poem he didn't read at President Kennedy's inauguration).  That poem, "Dedication" or "For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration", was to be my recommendation and the subject of my discussion today, but as I leafed through my copy of The Constitution looking for Article II, Section 1, I was reminded of how the words of the preamble to The Constitution never cease to send a tingle down my spine when I read them (found poetry if ever there was), so I shall save discussion of "Dedication" until the inauguration, and instead today's recommendations shall be the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States and one of my favourite exhibits from the Smithsonian American Art Museum: Preamble by Mike Wilkins.

Atrium of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC

"Dedication" or "For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration" © Copyright (1961) the Robert Frost Estate and Henry Holt and Company, Inc.  Extract used under the principle of "Fair Dealing".

* Late correction: the 6th was a Sunday so Congress passed a law allowing the Joint Session to count the Electoral College votes to happen on the 4th this year,

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