Monday, November 3, 2008

President Obama...and What To Expect

I start writing this blog the day BEFORE election day. I think most of us already know, along with the pundits and pollsters, who the 44th President of the United States is going to be. Now that the hoopla of the campaign is winding down and we have to deal with reality...we might as well start looking at the pros and cons in anticipation of this daunting new day in American presidential politics.

As I have stated in earlier blogs, I did not vote for either of the two leading candidates. I voted my conscience and stand by that vote with the idea that until individual Americans start truly voting their consciences...or even developing one...they will always have the government they deserve. Still, I am the eternal optimist and here are some "positives" that I will try to look for and support in this current new American administration.

Personally I would have preferred a mature Colin Powell as the first minority leader of the free world. Yet, I cannot help but be a bit proud of our country that we have finally voted for a minority as our leader and that we had two significant political women strongly considered in this year's race in both main parties. America is truly a "melting pot" which has too long been controlled politically by a white male elite. Wealth from whatever race or nationality carries with it significant responsibilities, but for too long our political system has not evenly represented the varied demographics of our huge and changing population. By electing President Obama, I optimistically hope that his example of rising to the top against all odds serves as an encouragement to all minorities in our country that they too can have a voice and compete to be heard at the highest realms of public office and discourse. Hopefully a large number of young black boys looking for role models will now think and aspire to goals larger than just being the next multi million dollar sports star or "rapper". We have given too much credence and importance to high profile sports stars and entertainers in our society and not enough adulation or respect to business and political leaders who come from disadvantaged minority backgrounds.

Anyone reading this who thinks that everyone in America has had equal opportunity all these years no matter what their race, gender or religion has been deluding themselves. I have seen the ugly face of racism many times in my life, and I truly hope that President Obama serves with intelligence, balance and effectiveness...for ALL Americans. I hope he lives up to his self hype of working with any reasonable leaders from all walks of life and all over the world to solve our many conflicts. I hope he CAN bring peace instead or war. I hope he CAN bring hope to financial markets and relief to the financially devastated. I hope he CAN reach across the political aisle and start some new processes in Washington that will bring progress and renewed positive energy to America at large. It is a tall order...and I hope to God he and his leadership around him will be up to the task of leading the USA away from its current abyss of decline.

Some have compared Obama's rise to preeminence to that of President John F. Kennedy. This comparison has been perpetuated further by the outspoken support Obama has received from JFK's survivors, especially Ted Kennedy and the former President's daughter, Caroline. To this day, JFK was the only Catholic elected as President and was the youngest ever to acheive the Presidency. Actually, I think JFK had significant advantages over Barack Obama. JFK had a powerful political family behind him in name and deed. He also had served much longer as a congressman than Barack Obama has. So, one could argue that Obama is the least experienced, freshest political face to ever enter the office. One has to wonder still how the current Republican leadership could lose this election...but reality is here.

While trying to be optimistic, I have some concerns. I think it highly evident that the economic woes in America and the Republican's lack of a cohesive, detailed plan to correct what has NOT happened the last eight years they were in office is what handed the office to the Democratic candidate. We now have to watch what the new President and his Democratic party with so much control over our combined government entities now will act on to turn our economics around. If they only take care of the "little guy", bail out the failures at the expense of the successful, and turn our whole country into some watered down experiment of "neo-socialism"...I think it will spell calamity for the long term health of our country and you will see capital spill OUT of the USA as fast as you can "whistle Dixie". The only chance America has for recooping its wealth and positive role as a democracy and mecca for free enterprise is to make itself more competitive for investment coming IN...better/fairer tax laws that compete with where capital could potentially flow out...and start REDUCING entitlements and government handouts we can no longer afford, and yes, substantial cost cutting at the federal government level. I will be all ears in hearing how this new administration will pay for its long promised "universal healthcare plan" and re-organizing the huge bad debts of both the citizens and the government at large. I am hoping that now this President will be able to plan and speak honestly about some of the "tough medicine" that will be required to make our country better.

I will also be watching who President Obama chooses to surround himself with in cabinet and other appointments. He needs balance and maturity in many areas where his experience and background lacks. Those key positions will determine if he can execute a viable plan for bringing America out of its current economic straights and successfully "handle" the many conflicts handed to him by our current leaders. Obama's most crucial actions may be about how he handles our "enemies" and how self sufficient he grows our economy and gets us over our addiction to foreign oil and other aid. Yes, we are getting huge financial "aid" from countries that have not traditionally supported or shared our values. You have to wonder about their motivations when you see that happening.

A couple faces I hope to see surrounding Obama are Warren Buffet for economics and Colin Powell for foreign affairs and policy. I hope he attracts some moderate Republicans that can help him stay fair and focused for ALL Americans. Republicans like Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century...and Republican moderate Chuck Hagel who just retired from the senate...should help him keep as centrist as possible on the political spectrum in representing as broad of interests as possible.

The real role of the President of the United States is to be an example and reflection of its people...both domestically and to the world at large. To that end, I do hope President Obama improves the image of intellect and depth the world wants to see in our leader. This man was elected in my opinion because he appealed to a broader spectrum of Americans, talked about the issues more than his opponents, and represented an image of hope and change that his competition seemed only able to mimic. I hope he continues with a positive message of change, propogated by balanced legislative actions based on realistic financial budgets. We didn't get into our present difficulties over night...and I think any rational person would agree we won't get out of our troubles overnight either. If this new administration simply starts the ball rolling the other direction...this President could end up as one of the greatest of all time. While I didn't vote for him, I truly wish him that success. For ALL our sakes...


Timothy said...

Hi ed,

Nice post. Even though I was halfway around the world I thankfully had the day off uni and ALL of the free-to-air channels in Australia covered the election (which was really surprising, as only one did in 2004. A symbol to how anticipated this election has been around the world!). A truly historic day, one couldn't help but be truly moved by his acceptance speech and seeing the massive crowd amassed before him. Black people and white people standing side by side in a common joy, and seeing people like jesse jackson crying, really touching.

I have very high hopes for Obama. One part of his acceptance speech that I thought you'd appreciate was his reference to how all of their goals for America might not be accomplished in one year, or even one term. I interpreted it as a recognition that a huge deficit significantly restricts the ability for the Government to expand spending. Which is unfortunately what the economy needs right now, with an interest rate so low that driving it down any further with monetary policy could risk a liquidity trap, fiscal policy is all that can save America from the recession looming.

I have been following Obama since he took his senate seat in 2004, so this is really an exciting day for me. Let's hope he impresses you and I!

kent dog said...
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kent dog said...

Here we go! Hopefully Obama can improve Americans' status around the world, or at least the perception of America by foreigners. I cant tell you how awful it is to be abroad and be sneered at because I am an American, since so many people associate Americans with their leader. Needless to say, Bush didnt have the best rep abroad...

Anastácio Soberbo said...

Hello, I like the blog.
It is beautiful.
Sorry not write more, but my English is bad writing.
A hug from Portugal

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Bibiana said...

Bueno, Obama el nuevo presidente de los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica. Muy buena suerte para este, pais y el resto del mundo, ya que las decisiones que este senor tome de ahora en adelante nos afectaran a todos.

No tengo muy buenas esperanzas con el futuro que se nos viene, con este nuevo presidente, para mi es un ser arrogante, egoista, prepotente, que no importa que, como, cuando y donde tenga que hacer para lograr sus objetivos.

Esta eleccion de Obama es una clara y absoluta respuesta del descontento que hay por los dos malos periodos anteriores del Mr.Bush, no creo que Obama vaya a ser mejor...

Siento lastima por McCain, pienso que es un ser humano mas conciente, claro y objetivo que Mr.Obama.

Pero bueno, asi lo decidio el pueblo norteamericano, buena suerte y ojala todos los que confiaron en el, no vayan a ser defraudados. Pues quedo con un gran poder.

Suerte para el resto de nosotros.

edward said...

Thanks everyone for the good comments. Obviously a new day has dawned in American politics, and we all hope it will be a positive one. It is telling to see all the international accolades for this Presidential selection. It seems most of our friends and neighbors were/are real tired of some of our schemes and positioning as a government. thinking on the post you quoted is that I disagree with "I don’t think the new president, be it Barack Obama or John McCain, has much hope to be remembered as a successful president. The situation they are going to come into is just too problematic." During these tumultuous times, it should actually be EASIER to make a difference and be recognized for it. Most of our historically favorite Presidential images were guys like Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Truman who each saw us through some of the darkest hours our country ever knew. In the heat of those times, these guys also took a lot of flack and did some very unpopular things that cause hardship and suffering of the electorate. I think we currently need some major adjustments and tough medicine. It is not going to be pretty or easy, but if successful over time, our new President could definitely take pride in some potential acheivements. I also think more AMericans are now in tune with what government is doing and the that extent I hope we all get more involved in finding and promoting solutions for our country.