I'm counting the hours, minutes and seconds until the end of the "Dubbya" Presidency. It was a painful eight years for me, a woman living on the "verge of a nervous breakdown". If you've been living with HIV for as long as I have, you're either passionate about what's going on in politics, wonderfully clueless (as they say "ignorance is bliss"), genuinely out of touch with reality, in a protective bubble of illusion or a narcissist.
My friends tell me that I read and watch too much world news. They can't understand why I'm horrified about the suffering in Gaza (Does anyone else see the connection of how Israel stopped bombing right before "W" leaves office?), the water-boarding and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo, rendition, illegal wiretapping and other atrocities when I have my own issues to think about. I try to explain that I believe we're all connected. If we're spending billions of dollars a day on war, encourage excessive pay for incompetent CEO's who run companies and entire industries into the ground, cut taxes for the top 2% of the population (trickle down economics), the rest of society (including people with disabilities such as AIDS) will suffer the consequences.
The policies of the past eight years have tarnished our reputation around the world. There has been a large distribution of wealth, shifting it upwards, towards the higher echelons of society. It has created economic turmoil comparable to the "Great Depression" and increased the number of people living without health care. But one of the most devastating effects of this administration was the slashing of federal funding for science and research - and allowing religious ideology to trump both. The Federal ban on stem cell research has set back the hands of precious time. The Federal syringe exchange ban has most certainly resulted in a plethora of new HIV infections. The abstinence based HIV policy is unrealistic and has done more harm than good.
I've been weathering the violent storm of the past eight years of this administration, trying to bide precious time by tirelessly treading water. At this moment in time, I'm barely keeping my head above the surface, gasping for air, clinging to my life raft until this tempest passes. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to make sure that I'm still alive. (Yes, I sure as hell am) Were the past eight years of diminishing health care, lower income, lowering of the FPL, increased unemployment, outsourcing of jobs, the eradication of Pell Grants for higher education, stagnation, inflation, recession and incomprehensible deficits just a really, really, bad dream? Will I survive long enough to see a policy change that will ignite a stealth resolve to FINALLY cure this damn disease? I fantasize about waking up one day to breaking news and headlines in all the papers that reads, "PRESIDENT CREATES MANHATTAN PROJECT FOR AIDS. BIG PHARMA ADMITS COLLUSION TO HOLD BACK CURE" Ah, just the thought gives me goose bumps.
I'll breathe a little easier when our next President is officially sworn into office. I'll be watching and I'm sure crying tears of joy. The world will be watching this historical moment in our nation's history. I watched the We Are One celebration and cried watching Springsteen sing "The Rising" accompanied by a Gospel Choir. I felt my spirits finally lifting out of a recent extended bout of depression after seeing the real face of America I know still exists. It's an America that is inclusive of all races, colors, creeds and persuasions. People have travelled from all over the country and the world to take part in this historic celebration.
"President Obama" has a monumental task. He's got to try to undue the mess we're in. The President sets the agenda, Congress must approve it and "We, The People" need to pay attention and be involved in the process. I know he won't be able to solve all of our problems, but if anyone has the capacity, intellect (a refreshing quality not seen in eight years) and demeanor to get things done, he's got it. I trust that he will "protect and defend" the Constitution, since he actually read the document, studied and taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago.
As I watched President Bush give his "Farewell" speech to the nation the other night, my emotions were torn between euphoria and disgust. I'm so tired of empty promises and ideological words such as "freedom", "justice", "democracy", "truth", "terror", "evil-doers" and "compassionate conservatism". I don't hate the man. I actually have empathy for him, but now I just want to see him wave goodbye, leave and never come back. I wish him and his family the best of health.
Goodbye President Bush. Farewell. Sayonara. Arriverderci. Au revoir. Please go back to your ranch, enjoy life and clear brush... Just don't take any more calls from Cheney or Rumsfeld.