This past week was really interesting.
First of all, I have never seen something like this Obama win. Even though the result itself was not surprising (solid victory on electoral votes, but not a landslide in the popular vote) the reaction all around was similar to a world cup victory in Brazil. Reporters openly cheering (shocker), parties on the streets and people high fiving each other at work. Really amazing and a bit scary too.
I had a chance to speak to many people who voted for Obama. There was always one thing in common when I started to talk about reasons why they voted for the chosen one: Bush. I don’t think the Republicans could have won this election no matter what. It was just one of those times when the weight of power crushes whoever is on top, and this time it was the Republicans (we were lucky not to get 60 dem senators…). The race factor also was huge. Some of the white people who I spoke with had basically told me that this election was in a way an affirmative action on steroids (by the way, it’s no coincidence that Colorado voters said no to a ban on affirmative action). One guy told me that seeing Obama at the top was “our message to the world”. Never doubt the power of white guilt.
However, the really interesting part came when I started to ask these same people about what they expect around Obama’s policies: They think he is not going to be a lefty! They think that his rhetoric was needed just as a marketing stunt and now we are back to business. Another guy who works with me even said: “A Harvard graduate would not be stupid and raise taxes and destroy the economy”.
Interestingly enough, this seems to be the talk line of the Democrat leadership. This is really funny because McCain couldn’t really pin Obama as lefty during the campaign… but now people are apparently recognizing that he is what he is, and maybe trying to put some pressure to make sure he doesn’t go crazy on us.
I’ve never doubted that Obama is a true believer of the left. But I am not as concerned as I would be if some other lefty, say Howard Dean, had won the presidency. I do think Obama is smart but the reason I think he will not go pinko on us is because he has something much bigger than his ideology driving him: his ego. Some people might not have noticed, but this guy has a big, very big thirst for power. No one goes from state senator to president in 3 years without that. So my thinking is that now that he has the most powerful job on earth, he will do his best to keep it. That means, he will play it safe.
So what I expect here is basically a classic populist. That does mean we can expect a few very bad decisions for the economy (increase in union power, protectionism, bigger safety net) but overall he will have to follow the American mainstream, which is clearly divided but on average is center-right.
I mentioned on a previous post some of my other concerns (Fairness Doctrine and The Freedom of Choice Act), but honestly I would be shocked if he came through on either of those things.
Differently than our whinny friends that couldn’t get over Bush’s victory, I am willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I am keeping a positive attitude and most of all, I respect the fact that the majority chose Obama to lead the country. That is the spirit of Democracy: you fight hard to get your way but if you don’t, you have to give the other side a chance to prove you wrong.
You take what you can get in this type of situation. I am still happy to see a black American president, even though I think he was elected for the wrong reasons. The same way I respect religion without actually being able to believe in God, I have to respect the power of the image Obama represents. That’s life.
Most of all, as the new president I respect Obama (also something that our friends on the other side could never do for Bush). Of course that doesn’t mean I have converted to a Democrat or that I will not criticize whatever policies I disagree with (by the way, watch this CNN video – apparently these people can’t even understand this concept of respecting and supporting the president even if it is not your party that holds the job – partisanship has completely blinded them!).
So now the ball is on the other side of the court. I am very curious to see how they deal with our current problems (will we be in Iraq this time next year? Is an Afghan surge on the way? How will our economy look like in 2 years?) and ideology aside, I do hope Obama proves me wrong and turns out to be a great President.
Being part of a truly democratic country is not that easy…but still well worth it.