My friend John has expressed the sentiment that there is precious little difference between Democrats and Republicans. J. Erwine has said just the same thing in his blog post about the election. I tend to agree with them in theory, but I am also much more hopeful.
My Dad’s view was that politicians should be discouraged from doing anything dangerous or harmful. The best we can hope for is that they don’t screw things up. For eight years we had a dangerous and harmful president backed by a dangerous and harmful minority with a majority who were powerless to do anything but watch. Things now are royally screwed up.
Listening to Obama’s inspiring and beautiful victory speech, I was given hope that an intelligent man might start to fix the mess that is the Bush legacy. Obama might be that intelligent man. I would guess that he has 40 IQ points on “W”. The problem is that the machinery of politics and government is largely controlled by Old White Men, usually overweight and bald. We haven’t replaced the Old Bald Men (OBM) in government and we might never be able to do it. As long as Money and Power are the wages of Politics we will have to deal with the OBM and their special interests.
The press is treating Obama’s victory as a Black victory, but this is only partially true. Of course, it is about time that the country leaves behind the racial and sexual politics of an older century. This is just a small step in that direction. The “N” word is being used privately across America today, and that will not go away easily.
The Obama victory is more of a Republican loss. The Republican Party has evolved into a party of strange bedfellows. The top 10% of the wealthy and powerful have duped the bottom 40% of the stupid and ignorant into believing that Republicans can somehow do away with personal freedoms and turn government into a tax free theocracy where religion can be legislated. If George Bush had not been such an incompetent idiot, the amalgam of money and stupidity might have gone on for a long time and no one would have figured it out. What did happen is that some of the ignorant and stupid woke up, looked around, and decided that things are very screwed up. Not that they voted for Obama, but enough of them did not vote, and that let Obama win. The black vote was impressive, but the youths and blacks did not vote in numbers large enough to make a difference. They talk a good game, but their impact can be discounted. What happened is that the Republican base became just a little apathetic when faced with the uninspiring McCain, the obnoxious Palin, a nasty unnecessary war, and an economy on life support. It was a dearth of Republican votes that won the election for the Democrats.
Why be hopeful, then?
Obama has no vested interest in keeping the War in Iraq going. He has no ties to the oil companies and he has a strong majority in the House and Senate with which to work. The Democrats are much more diverse than the Republicans, with a agendas ranging to the ultraconservative to the ultra liberal, but a good man, an intelligent man, and an inspired man might be able to craft that diversity into a meaningful tool for forging a progressive policy.
I will be happy if Obama manages to do any of the following:
- End the Iraq war.
- Create a universal health care system that manages to reduce health care costs.
- Stop our dependence on foreign oil.
- Preserve our parks and wild lands, and protect our endangered species.
- Repair our reputation as a rogue state, and make us world leaders instead of world bullies.
- Re-regulate our financial systems so that greed will not be able to trump prosperity again in our lifetimes.
- Populate the Supreme Court with enough liberal judges to keep personal privacy and freedom immune to judicial revocation for the next 30 or so years.
I hope that they can do this without taxing the internet, but that is just my own personal agenda talking.
A man on Mars would be cool, but the Democrats might decide to fix things on earth first. The truth is, that neither political party gains much by having a man on Mars. That’s sad.