After so many primaries, so much hard work and so many examples of democracy at its finest — the time has finally come.
Tuesday, at long last, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America.
If there is a Lord, now would be an opportune time to thank him (or her). At the very least, now is the perfect opportunity to take a moment to consider the much-needed breath of life Obama’s presidency will pump into a system many have long considered broken and corrupt.
American democracy. Turns out it works.
Tacoma’s Leonard Haggarty — brother of Tacoma artists/filmmaker Teddy and a local entrepreneur — couldn’t be happier. After “living and breathing” politics for what must feel like eons, since Obama’s campaign captured Iowa and never looked back, Haggarty is finally face to face with the reality of his dream — seeing Obama take office.
Thanks to his hard work and unique story, he’ll get a chance to see it in person.
In 2005 Haggarty was the proprietor of a cigar accessories wholesale business — a business located in New Orleans. Everything was going pretty well, that is until Katrina hit and changed Haggarty’s life forever. Soon his business was under nine feet of water, death and despair — and Haggarty’s perspective on his country and its shortcomings were significantly altered.
“What Katrina showed me was how broken this country was,” says Haggarty, whose experience with the massive hurricane led to heavy involvement in the campaign to get Barack Obama elected. “I saw first hand just how devastating having the wrong group of people in power can be.”
After coming back to Tacoma and licking his financial wounds, Haggarty took note of a politician unlike any he’d seen before — Barack Obama. Before long, Haggarty was volunteering for the candidate — traveling to five states during the course of the primary season and general election, ringing doorbells, posting signs and even acting as a precinct manager in Texas for the senator from Illinois.
“When I first saw him I thought he was a funny looking guy, but I liked what he was saying,” says Haggarty.
In Great Falls, Mont., during a small Obama rally where the candidate spoke to a room of roughly 3,500, Haggarty got a chance to meet the man he’d dedicated so much time and energy to.
“I shook his hand and said ‘I’m a Katrina survivor and I’ve volunteered for you in five states,’” recounts Haggarty. “He paused and said, ‘That means a great deal to me.’ It was very genuine.
“It was a priceless moment.”
On Tuesday, Haggarty, his brother, Teddy, and another famous Tacoman — Justin Peterson (who tends bar at Hell’s Kitchen) — will be in Washington, D.C. to see Obama’s inauguration first hand, with help from tickets provided by Congressman Adam Smith’s office — a reward of sorts for Haggarty’s hard work and unique story.
“In my lifetime there will not be another event that comes close to this,” says Haggarty of the historical importance of Obama’s election.
“We still have a democracy.”
Yes we do.
Check out www.weeklyvolcanospew.com for updates from the Haggarty brothers and Justin Peterson during Tuesday’s historic inauguration.