I did it.

Political heresy, outright treason, an unconscionable act — I, Courtney Weaver, vice president of the UCSB Campus Democrats, feminist, and intern for Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, attended the second inauguration of President George Walker Bush. I learned one thing: I can’t wait to come home.

Democrats in Santa Barbara and California are fortunate. Despite seeing our governor fraternize with Condoleeza Rice and Karl Rove today, I accepted that although I didn’t vote for him and won’t in 2006, no matter who the Democratic nominee is, he’s a hell of a lot better than George W. Bush. I am proud to be a Californian and proud of our Democratic legislature and the protections we are afforded regarding the environment and civil rights. I realized, now more than ever, that all Americans are not so fortunate. The ignorance and disrespect of rank-and-file Bush supporters shocked even me. The entrances of former presidential candidate John Kerry, former President Bill Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi drew jeers from the crowd, while the Kerry-Edwards lapel pin on my hat brought on an array of commentary. A fur-clad woman wearing a pin, which spelled out “Texas” in rhinestones, even asked, “Who cares what foreigners think?”

Over the course of my relatively short time as a party activist, I have learned to deal with Republicans. Sure, their ineffective and unfair tax schemes, war-mongering and social intolerance irritate me, but everyone has a right to their opinion. I had become complacent and accepting of our differences. The inauguration changed all of that. President Bush’s speech was rhetorically equivalent to “Hooray for the USA.” With corporate donations to the inaugural committee at a record high, I have no hope for a unified and more prosperous second term.

The best news is that the pendulum will swing, and that the next four years will not be easy for George W. Bush. Senator Barbara Boxer has already proved such with her courageous opposition to both the certification of the electoral vote and Condoleeza Rice’s nomination as secretary of state. With a dangerously ill Supreme Court chief justice and Republican congressional attempts to privatize social security and rewrite the tax code, Democrats will have plenty to fight about.

Fear not, Californian liberals. If all else fails in 2008, there’s always secession. Arnold isn’t so bad by comparison.

Courtney Weaver is a junior history and political science major.