This was originally intended only to be published on my Cultural Sn:afu blog, where I’m trying to get back into the rhythm of writing news columns, but then I figured “what the hell”. So feel free to let me know if 1. the words are in the right order; 2. the words are written in English; 3. the general focus is coherent.
President Elect Obama won the election, yet Senator McCain didn’t lose so much as he came in a very close second. The person electors wanted to punish was President Bush, and they have.
The almost-former President’s place in history has been set in stone with this election. There will be no redemption. His will forever be known as the “Idiot Presidency”. Everything he “accomplished” will be forever eclipsed by the absolutely historic election of an African-American president. The Bush legacy will be reduced to books written about the lies used to get into a second Iraq war, and the disgraceful response to Hurricane Katrina.
Ding dong the wicked witch is dead. But she had been on life support for four years and wasn’t expected to live much longer anyway, so taking credit for her death after sticking a sword in a her lifeless body, and dancing on her grave after her body had already been put into the ground might be justified by the amount of relief which needed to be released, but it’s hardly a victory.
President Obama is a remarkable person, with a remarkable personal narrative, and his election to the presidency is an incredible testament to the historical narrative of the United States. But his election owes almost as much to American dislike, even hatred, of a president who would have been gone in a few months no matter who was running.
The strategy of the campaign commercials run on American networks by the Democrats was to tie Mr. McCain and other Republican candidates to President Bush, the least respected President in a hundred years. But after raising US$600,000,000 and spending a record amount of money, after running against President Bush’s mostly inept eight-year record, President Obama’s margin of victory in the national “popular vote” was only five percent.
The political spectrum of the United States is still as divided the day after President Obama’s election as it was a few years ago, essentially there’s only been a six point swing from 2004. It’s the years of Left v. Right hyperbole and rhetoric that have been wiped away, not the problems or issues facing Americans.
President Obama cannot force people to buy cars and houses, so the auto sector will continue to collapse and the housing market will continue to find its bottom. Thousands of jobs will continue to be lost in every economic sector, and thousands more Americans will lose whatever tiny bits of health coverage they had left.
The American debt is over eleven trillion dollars. The ability to erase the deficit, let alone the debt, will be almost impossible during a recession. Which means both will inevitably rise, and the economy of the United States will get worse before it will get better.
The first contact Europe will have with President Obama will be when he tells Spain, Germany and Italy to commit troops to the front line in Afghanistan. But while those governments have already committed troops to Afghanistan, they also refuse to allow their troops leave their bases and engage in any combat roll.
During the election Mr. Obama repeatedly said he wants to renegotiate NAFTA, but Canada has no interest in doing so and the agreement cannot be opened without the participation of the other partners.
As American influence in Iraq wanes, Iran’s will rise. The American military has been abused for sixteen years, from being was cut apart during the Clinton Presidency to spending six consecutive years fighting two wars. Fixing the military during a war will be almost impossible, and every day the American military is in Iraq and/or Afghanistan only adds to the economic deficit.
I imagine there’ll be a great number of people who will be walking on air over the next few months, and maybe even years, but to fix what is actually wrong with the United States will require years, probably even decades to repair.
The “hope” Americans voted for lies in the cleanliness which comes with a new President, and only in the potential for something new. American politics is very much like its own unique brand of Evangelical Christianity in that every four to eight years all of the electorate’s sins are absolved, as long as they admit their guilt by voting in a new direction.
The “change” President Obama promised has come and gone with the election. The United States has fundamentally changed with his election. Now President Obama himself is the “hope”, not his policies. The problems his country faces are large, and will take time to fix, but they are ultimately ordinary. And because the problems are ordinary his solutions to the problems must be standard and ordinary.
The majority of people who voted for Barack Obama did so out of their intense belief in his ability. But he was elected as President based on the fears some had of a continuation of a Bush Presidency, the desire of others to punish a Bush Presidency, and by people who wanted to again feel hope for their country. It will be interesting to watch him work in the mundane spaces. And whether that ordinary work will continue to inspire those who voted for “hope” or against President Bush.