Congratulations go out to President-Elect Obama.
The campaign was hard fought but a well-deserved victory to the former Senator of Illinois.
Looking back at the last 6 months, the campaign had the feel of the 1992 days leading up to the election. The feel-good emotions of Americans from east to west dominated the national consciousness. Many are basking in the afterglow of the big win. To be honest, I never thought I'd see a Black President in my lifetime. Whether your a republican or democrat and consider that we're barely a generation removed from the Civil Rights Movement, its been a long time coming.
For John McCain, it was an uphill battle. I'm no Tim Russert but from what I can ascertain from living this election each day at my television job, we can pinpoint many reasons for his lack of support from states that historically lean Republican such as Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Indiana, etc. Regardless of what his voting record is in the Senate (historically moderate; much to the dismay of his conservative counterparts), he was guilty by association. McCain distanced himself from "W" but McCain could never shake the stigma of his Republican roots which hurt him in the eyes of a public that is paying for high gas prices, job loss, foreclosure and 401K losses in the trillions. Its not his fault but he might as well as have pulled the trigger on the credit crisis himself. For many in a year of economic distress that hasn't hit rock bottom, perception is reality especially when that reality is an empty wallet. Conversely, if the stock market hadn't crashed over the last 8 weeks, the race, at least electorally, would have been a lot tighter.
Now its down to business.
All of the beautifully orated speeches now have to translate into policy that is malleable to a volatile Congress that is filled with partisan history. What worries me is a Congress that is controlled by the same party that is in the White House. While it makes policy somewhat easier to get through the Congressional gauntlet and back to the President's desk, it pushes an agenda that is inherently Parisian contrary to what each party wants you to believe. Hopefully this is tempered by the urgency of action in the midst of this economic slowdown
Unlike Bush who was a hard-line conservative, Obama will need to be a pragmatic policy initiator and not a hard-line liberal. One such area that needs this treatment is the military and our foreign policy. In an ideal world, it would be great to sit down with ALL leaders of the world. But in reality, there are power plays between nations which in most instances supersede our idealistic picture of the U.S's position in the world. Obama's advisers will make this clear to him as his administration begins. Will we see a meeting with Obama and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? I highly doubt it.
I, for one, would like to see some republicans in his Cabinet. Its time to eliminate this "members only" mentality.
An Obama presidency virtually can only help to mend scarred relationships with any European leaders by his party affiliation. Bush ticked off many with his Iraq debacle. A Democrat, at least early on, will only help.
An Obama presidency will improve consumer confidence, again by his Republican non-affiliation. The US and Global consumer wants change from the status quo. This will offer some solace.
The economy hasn't hit rock bottom yet. The financial sector collapsed. The money supply has tightened. Businesses are shrinking. Unemployment is rising as is inflation. GDP is growing but its negligible. Many suggest that unemployment will rise even more in 2009 as the GDP flattens more. We shouldn't expect much from any new administration in 2009 or even early 2010 given this economy even with new policy. The market has to purge itself of the contagions that plague it which means more job losses independent of any new president.
Mark my word, people will want change quick. The after glow of "change" will fade quick as head into next summer. People must learn to be patient regardless of the party or presiident. This is hard to say but we must give it two years. Second half of this initial term will be the first big economic test.
Those are my thoughts. Let's be patient and see what happens.