Some people are getting a bit cranky about the fact that I pissed in their cornflakes this morning, so here’s a little more exposition.
A charismatic new face appeared on the political scene, somebody who was honest and sympathetic and intelligent. So he was a little more religious than I liked; he’s still a good man who promises to repair the damage of the former presidency. He’s running against a relic of that previous corrupt administration, his campaign slogan is all about change, and I am so relieved to have a promising choice. I campaigned for him, I stayed up all night with my friends on election night cheering him on, and I woke up the next morning optimistic for the future, glad that we finally had a progressive president.
Obviously, that wasn’t this year’s election. It was 1976, the very first presidential election in which I was eligible to vote, and the candidate was Jimmy Carter, a man I still think was probably the most honorable and decent president of the 20th century. But optimism and good intentions were not, are not enough. What followed Carter’s election was well-meaning bumbling, a dismal and unaccomplished presidency, and Ronald Reagan, the catastrophe that paved the road to our current state.
This election was so much like that one, only even more so. And I dread the possibility that jubilation will lead to complacency, that moderation will produce stasis, and that what will follow an Obama presidency could be something far, far worse than we can imagine.
So no, no ebullience from me, no brief relaxation into celebration. I’m charging up my cattle prod, because I want to goose the Obama administration into actually getting something done in the coming years. I think Obama could be a great president, especially since greatness in that office is measured by the magnitude of the challenges faced (which are off the scale), and the ability of the leader to rise to them. There is reason to have hope, but hope doesn’t get the job done.
Ten years from now I don’t want to be praising Obama by commenting on his generosity and his carpentry skills.