Inaugural blues: more of same

The presidential inauguration is a marvelous tradition. It is an exemplar of the peaceful transfer of power that exists in our democratic system.

But why did President Barack Obama – or any president – need to have a public display on Monday if he’s being sworn-in during a private ceremony the day before?

If Obama were serious about turning the country around, he would have canceled the pompous and egotistical celebrations that took place Monday.

Obama has a lot on his schedule this next term. He shouldn’t be wasting time on a parade, luncheon and inaugural balls. Bigger problems like the spending cuts (sequestration) that could take place at the end of February and the negotiations on the nation’s debt ceiling should be his top priority. Not to mention, the continuing resolution, the legislation that keeps our government funded, is nearing expiration.

It’s comparable to being in college. If you have a big test on Monday, you don’t spend the weekend partying.

I spent the past week in Washington, D.C., attending an academic seminar comprised of college students from all around the country.

Like the city, most of them were caught up in the festivities of the inauguration. They were so eager for the celebrations that they are forgetting the dangers that lie ahead.

My peers’ eagerness is troubling. It’s not even the true swearing-in of Obama. It’s a media spectacle. It’s selfishness. It’s not a day for celebrating change or hope.

This election did not change anything. We have the same president. Democrats still control the Senate. Republicans still control the House. Congress is still extremely polarized. The economy is still stalling. The future is bleak.

The nation’s capital couldn’t care less. Everywhere I went, I saw signs, hats, sweat shirts and T-shirts dedicated to this event. Even my Metro card has Obama on it with the caption, “America Makes History Again.”

As I walked around the nation’s capital, I could only shake my head in disbelief.

It’s incredible that there is so much excitement in D.C. and around the country for the inauguration.

This is the same president who reigned over 43 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent. This is the same Congress that had the lowest approval rating in history.

We put the same people back in office and are hoping they will produce different results. And we’re throwing a party to start it off with a bang. I just don’t see a reason for celebration while we are in the midst of crisis.

Over the past four years, our nation has experienced a lot of devastation and turmoil. On Jan. 21, we can’t forget about everything that happened in Obama’s last term.

Too many Americans were affected and too many substantive issues were pushed off to this second term.

Obama has forgotten this. A day of celebration allows him to escape the criticism of past mistakes. It’s one more day closer to sequestration. One day closer to defaulting on our debt. One day closer to the government shutting down from lack of funds.

Leaders who were determined to put the country back on the right track would have canceled Monday’s celebrations. They would address the nation and then go about their business. They would use the support of the public to push through legislation that would get the country out of the mess it’s in.

Who cares about sequestration, the approaching debt ceiling or expiration of the continuing resolution?

All that trouble can wait another day.

Ethan Wilt is a sophomore at Juniata College and a graduate of Altoona Area High School.