Today was John Lewis’ funeral. John Lewis was obviously a truly great member of congress, renowned for being part of the March on Selma, and remembered just as strongly for being a stalwart in the United States House of Representatives, the conscience of the nation, a life long civil rights activist who ascended to the highest levels of government, using his conscience to serve his country which he loved so very much.
Three presidents spoke at Representative Lewis’ funeral today at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The first to speak was President George W. Bush. He gave a short speech, and I personally found it rather boring. The second to speak was President Bill Clinton who talked in detail about working with John Lewis when he was the President, and how great a man we know John Lewis was.
Nancy Pelosi spoke as well, and she had worked with him longer than anyone else there today.
Obama however stood above every other major political speaker. He talked about how in order to truly honor John Lewis we need to continue to support the same policies which he does. Most importantly, Obama supports abolishing the filibuster if it gets in the way of passing civil rights reform, decrying it as a relic of the Jim Crow era.
Soon after, #MyPresident was trending on Twitter, and when you saw what people were talking about, you would find they were talking about President Obama.
I don’t remember President Clinton stealing the show when Bush was president. I remember he was there during the Reagan funeral of course, but people weren’t looking at it and remarking at how his eulogy was the best of them all. As soon as Bush left office he almost disappeared from public life. When I was a young child, George H. W. Bush was almost never talked about.
President Obama is different. Not only is he the first African American president in history, but he also continues to be a leader for our nation long after he finished his two terms. As I went for a walk today I thought, “He was right when he said he would probably win reelection in 2016”. This is the problem with term limits, if you look at 2016, the probable candidates to run for President were HIllary Clinton and Joe Biden, both of whom has serious foot in mouth disease, Elizabeth Warren who chose not to run, and that is about it. This NBC article didn’t even mention Elizabeth Warren. Very few candidates had the national name recognition, and since Obama was ineligible, there weren’t any other household name recognition candidates left in the country.
On top of this, President Obama has the grace, tact, and style which made him one of the most effective and consequential Presidents in the United States. He is highly unusual that even after being President he continues to be a public figure, with high approval ratings which give him the power to move the national needle of public opinion.
Senators across the country are going to have to respond to President Obama now, and it is going to be a campaign issue this November for Senate races. This is a good thing, and an obviously calculated move for President Obama. Forcing Democrats to announce they support a major reform which will make a significantly more functioning government is going to make a massive change in the next Congress which starts on January 3rd. Senators could potentially end the filibuster by January 20th which would allow President Biden to pass major reform, or deliver major progressive legislation to President Biden’s desk which he will have to sign.
To President Obama, thank you for your service to our country. Our country is a better place because of you.
To the late Representative John Lewis, may you rest in peace. Our nation owes a debt to you which will probably never be repaid. You made our country a better place, and you will never be forgotten.