I just have a couple thoughts in reflection on this change in American politics. Since Bethany says I have a habit of taking the wind out of people’s sails sometimes, I’ll say the positive things first.
1) This is no doubt a major historical moment in America. I haven’t seen the video of Barack’s acceptance speech in Chicago, but from Bethany’s description of Jesse Jackson and Oprah and others weeping, it gave me chills. To think that just over 40 years ago, black students were beaten and jailed for daring to eat at a Memphis lunch counter with whites, and this happened just two days ago? Amazing.
2) Barack is an inspiring figure, and the global celebrations that sprung up from hearing of his election is telling for the integrity of America worldwide. The world is tired of eight years of George Bush’s absurd foreign policy drama of crusading, unilateralism, and machismo. His us v. them and good v. evil policies have caused Islam to become more radicalized and made our world a more dangerous place. Barack will have a different foreign policy presence, to be sure, and the effect of that foreign policy all the way down to daily life in villages in the Middle East would surprise us, I think.
3)The neo-conservative agenda for governance and economics is falling apart at the seams. Alan Greenspan admits it, and not many others. The country heard the McCain fearmongering “Obama’s a socialist” claims and let it slide off our backs like water on a duck. Most reasonable people I’ve talked to believe that the best approach for a just economy is a mix of capitalist and socialist ideas. The days of McCarthy’s “red scare” don’t fly today like they did fifty years ago.
4)Obama has a VP who won’t be afraid to light a fire under him. Whoever else becomes a part of Obama’s cabinet (and I do believe he will surround himself with wise advisors rather than power-seekers or suck-ups), Biden won’t passively knuckle under to Barack. And that’s good.
1) Obama talks out of both sides of his mouth on abortion. He claims to want to reduce abortions, spoke clearly of abortion as a moral issue, yet defends Roe v. Wade at every opportunity. I would like to see him navigate a centrist path for Americans on this where we can provide room for abortions in desperate medical situations but remove abortion from being a free, unencumbered choice like whether I get the chocolate or vanilla shake at BK. He claimed in the debates that no female makes that decision lightly. That’s laughable. A number of females treat it very lightly; as a way to remove the unseemly consequence from self-centered sexuality.
2) While I do believe Obama carries some strong doses of wisdom and discernment, he can run the risk of becoming a chameleon and pandering to whatever group he’s speaking to. An example of this is the Israel/Palestine issue. He studied up on the Palestinian people’s plight as an Illinois senator, dining with and listening to an important Palestinian advocate (Rashid Khalidi, whom McCain childishly attacked in his last desperate days), yet when he spoke before AIPAC (the powerful pro-Israel political action committee), he spoke like Israel was the only virtuous and suffering group. Which one is experiencing much deeper human rights abuses on a daily basis, Barack?! It’s clearly the Palestinians! Speak up for them on the world scale, and in supporting them, reject their extremist elements (Hamas) and help Israel and Palestine work towards peace as a gutsy leader. If you’re looking for mentors, call Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu. They’ve got enough guts to call the situation what it is. I’d like to see Barack make some gutsy, polarizing stands from time to time that make people pick sides. I don’t want this all of the time, just some of the time.
I have a video from Ralph Nader that I embedded below here where he gives some stern warnings about Barack. He offers some really important perspectives on Obama that will take some of the luster off the “golden boy” image.
3) Barack is a corporate president-elect now. A whole lot of his money came from corporations, and if you don’t think that came with strings attached, you’re about as naive as George Bush on that carrier in 2003. And if Barack wants to be re-elected, he’s got to get some things done for those corporations over the next four years if he wants to have a shot to win again. This will lead to him compromising significantly, hedging stronger statements by emphasizing both sides, and generally caring for corporations over the common person…that is, unless the people of America unite to force him and the Congress to vote a certain way like blacks did in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act.
So, as you can see, I’m conflicted about this guy. I think he’s the best leader for America amongst the two candidates, I think his VP is the best leader for America amongst the two candidates. If I had my druthers, either one of my two favorite leaders Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich would be in this place. They couldn’t get there because their integrity matters too much, so. *sigh* All is not hopeless, yet all is not peaches and cream either.
I’ll state this and hopefully a million times more in my life; the biggest hope for America is a citizenry that unites around issues of justice and equity and works consistently and passionately toward that end. Our present political system corrupts the very people who have the best ideas; they need you and me lighting a fire under them to make solid change happen. I’m still learning how to do that, but at least I’m trying, right?