Nan Hunter

Next Tuesday: too good to be true?

Filed By Nan Hunter | October 27, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, election 2008, Election Day, George W. Bush

Answer - probably. Like progressives all over the web, I'm stopping myself from getting too happy. No one wants to jinx the overwhelming tide of good news for Obama by premature counting of chickens. Despite increasingly frequent use of words like "landslide," "bloodbath," and "earthquake election," the media are simultaneously scrambling to run how-McCain-could-still-win stories.

But deep down, no one - including conservatives - seems to really believe that there is any question left - barring the equivalent of the kind of cataclysm that almost never happens - except how big Obama's victory will be. It now appears that the only genuinely exciting question left in the national races is whether the Dems will achieve a 60-vote majority in the Senate (meaning that a party line vote can block a filibuster), a truly stunning feat which still seems unlikely.

The bigger question is how the why behind the landslide will affect the future. The Obama wave, possibly a tsunami, is not happening because all those folks who voted for Bush, the other Bush, and Reagan have suddenly adopted the mindset of from each according to his means, to each according to his needs. Conversion isn't the game here; Americans are looking for a way to express how fed up and even frightened they are from the Bush regime. Bush loved to posture as the "bring it on" president, but he now seems more aptly characterized as a multi-dimensional failure - from Iraq to Katrina to a desperate bail-out when the economy tanked. In other words, this is an anti-Bush, not a pro-Obama wave. The frat boy hour is over; we need an adult back in charge.

People vote for change for lots of reasons; it's important to remember how ideologically diverse a politics of change can be. Obama embodies an extraordinary combination of intelligence, skill and unbelievable luck. In this economic climate, virtually any Democratic nominee would be headed for the White House. Obama also has the gift of seeming to mean many things to many different groups of people. I don't think that he is any less principled than any other politicians, and he seems to be considerably more principled than most. At the least, he is less willing to pander.

I am, to put it mildly, excited at the prospect of an Obama presidency. But I also know that it's going to include more, not fewer, Republicans than were in the Clinton administration, and more, not less, of some things - like funding for faith-based social services - that I'm less than crazy about. Whatever hype the media come up with, the country is not undergoing an ideological transplant. If only.

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I agree that it's more of an anti-Bush vote than an affirmance of the Democratic party platform. Nonetheless, power has its own strange magnetism. I believe most people lack an internal political compass, and they follow the powers that be as long as their lives aren't disturbed too much. Just as the country experienced a marked shift to the right over the past years, I think there will be a marked shift to the left in the next four.

You're also right that it's not going to be Democrats Gone Wild, because every successful administration needs the support of the other side of the aisle, and people generally can only take a moderate amount of change. That's why the first 100 days are so impactful, and it gets kind of muddy after that.

I don't regret that the Democrats, assuming they get in, can't undo everything the Bush administration did. Some of those things were beneficial. I think this pendulum swing back and forth between the Republicans and Democrats is important. It keeps each party hopeful of winning back power so that extreme radicalism and resort to weapons is unnecessary. The backing and filling from Democrats to Republicans and back again is good, a kind of "tacking" mechanism of the ship of state, which makes our country flexible enough to accommodate radically different viewpoints, and yet stable enough to avoid the radicalism that has engulfed so many other countries.

I find myself wanting to jump up and down in excitement like a child waiting on his birthday. At this point, I could care less if he takes every state or wins by 1 vote; I just want my side to win again. I want to move away from the rightwing nutjob theories of government.

Well, I think this is an affirmation of the Democratic Party Platform, considering that almost everything on there polls higher than their corresponding parts of the GOP Platform.

People want various things, but there is support for what the left in this country wants. We just have to work past the false centrism that the right has been working hard to create.

Thanks for the comments. I don't mean to take the joy out of victory - I can't wait. But I don't think that it was the combination of magnetism and inertia that has driven American politics so far to the right. A lot of right-wing brains, money and energy were invested in shifting the center from where it used to be, with the enactment of policies that have produced the largest concentration of wealth at the top in our lifetimes, among other things. It's going to take some serious effort to move the needle to a more humane, just resting point. I'm afraid that a lot of folks may be inclined to just groove off Obama's cool.