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Local Democrats in D.C.: 'Jubilation everywhere'

Inauguration Eve on King holiday

Posted: January 19, 2009 6:27 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2009 7:01 p.m.

Street vendors like this one are set up throughout Washington D.C., hawking merchandize emblazoned with Barack Obama's image.

"It's jubilation everywhere," said Bruce McFarland, former president of the Santa Clarita Valley-based Democratic Alliance for Action, and among the SCV residents who journeyed to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

"We were in the downtown area about five blocks from the parade route near the Metro station today, and everybody's happy," he said, adding there are vendors everywhere hawking Obama merchandise, as well.

McFarland and his wife, Zoe-Anne Fitzhugh, made the trip with local friends Phil Althouse and Diana Shaw, and met up in the nation's capital with McFarland's sister and nephew, both from Los Angeles.

"It's really thrilling to be here," said McFarland, who attended Bill Clinton's second inauguration in 1996. "People came from all over the country. We talked to a lot of folks ... telling stories about how they got here."

McFarland said people in his party and others he's spoken with are hopeful.

"Obama does not walk on water, but everyone's hopeful he will be the right person for the job," he said.

"We've seen a lot of black folks and kids coming to the inauguration," he observed. "We saw a black teacher talking to his students about participatory democracy. A black man coming into the presidency makes it real for those kids."

McFarland, also a contributor to the "Democratic Voices" series of columns appearing Tuesdays in The Signal, said has been politically active since the 1960s.

"When I was young and in the civil rights marches and anti-war demonstrations, we thought (a black president) it might be possible someday, but as time passed as I got older, it seemed less than more possible," he said.

"In one sense, we have to thank George W. Bush, because people have realized that you want the smartest person in the room to be president," McFarland said.

"I think Obama has a rare blend of political savvy, raw intelligence and good judgement, and he is the right man for this job right now. And I do think (his presidency) will change race relations forever."


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