Rick Hansen at the Inauguration: 'We Were in a Crowd of A Million Happy People'
The Democratic state representative for Mendota Heights, Lilydale and West St. Paul talks about waiting in lines, the president's speech and Beyoncé lip-syncing the national anthem.
Why did you want to go to the inauguration?
I had gone to the national convention and was on the rules committee for the national convention, and we had gone to the first inauguration to support the president. It was a tremendous historical event to watch the transfer of power from one administration to another—even when it’s the same administration.
How would you compare this inauguration with 2009?
I thought the speech had more content in it and I was pleased by the themes the president raised—particularly climate change. There were fewer people, but people were still passionate. People are just happy. People will take pictures and pass cameras around. ‘Oh, here’s somebody from Arkansas,’ or ‘Here’s somebody from Illinois.’ It’s a great American fixture to meet with people.
Did you meet with with any constituents while you were in Washington?
There weren’t too many Minnesotans here. I met with Congresswoman [Betty] McCollum [D-Minn.]. That’s where we got the tickets. We were in the orange ticket standing area. There was a Minnesota reception, but it was on the opposite side of the Capitol from where we were. We just couldn’t get there: It took us over two hours to get through security and get to our spot. Logistics can be a challenge. But I met some folks who I went to college with in Iowa. There was an event with Sen. Franken at the Willard Hotel.
What do you think about Beyoncé lip-syncing the national anthem?
We were unaware of any scandals or any controversies. We were in a crowd of a million happy people wearing flags, taking photos. About a million iPhones and BlackBerrys raised so people can get a panoramic view of the swearing in.
What are your main goals for the legislative session?
I have to look through the governor’s proposed budget, but I think looking at jobs and how best to promote jobs and have a [responsible] budget into the future so we don’t have these wild swings of budgeting that we’ve had the last ten years. Personally, I also will be working on a lot of water quality issues.