Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama

[AP photo of Obama, at Grant Park, Chicago]

In politics, like sports, you battle up until the final whistle, or your last at bat. Then, when you lose, you gather, shake hands, and move on. It's called magnanimity.

This morning feels a bit like sitting in the loser's dugout, watching your rival and their fans celebrate. It's tough at that moment, but over time, it begins to feel better, and often, you look back at the loss with some remorse, but you come recognize that you waged a noble battle, and acceptance gradually settles in. If you've tasted victory, you remember what that felt like and you empathize, and identify with what the victor's are experiencing.

Barack Obama is now America's 44th president, winning decisively. For many, the reality of the morning after is a hard one, but one they'll have to face and hopefully, come to terms with.

Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin, at Politico write,

Obama won on his own terms, strategically and symbolically. He rolled up a series of contested states, from Colorado to Virginia, long out of Democratic reach. And his victory reflected the accuracy of his vision of a reshaped country. Racism, much discussed, turned out to be a footnote, and African-American turnout was not unusually high. Instead, Obama drew his strength from an array of racially mixed, growing areas around cities like Orlando, Washington, Indianapolis, and Columbus on his way to at least 334 electoral votes.

The Obama victory has a historic quality in many ways. Consider that in more than 175 years since Andrew Jackson (the father of the modern Democratic Party) left the White House, only two other Democrats (Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson) have convinced at least 51 percent of the country to back them for president.

On the Senate side, Democrats had hoped to come away from the election with 60 seats. That bid fell short, as contested races, like the one in Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was able to hold off a strong challenge by Democratic businessman, Bruce Lunsford, to prevail, preserved a key Republican seat.

The great horserace of 2008 has concluded. The battles were legion, particularly through the primary season. Even among Democrats, there are still scars from the Clinton/Obama battles of that part of the presidential political journey that Obama travelled.

George Bush talked much about "being a uniter, not a divider," and we saw where believing him brought us. President Obama will face similar challenges of uniting a country that is polarized by ideology, and fears of where he'll take us as a nation.

As for me, I'm taking two steps back from it all. While I was not an Obama supporter, I'm interested in watching him take his first steps of governance. I've spoken and shared my thoughts over the past 24 months, and now, it's time to move on, and move forward. Only time will tell where America is headed, and what type of leader our newest president will be.

I leave you with one writer's take on what an Obama presidency might look like.


Joe said...

Looks like your boy Mike Vaughan lost, so that's gotta be worth something.

I, for one, supported Obama. At the very least it was refreshing to see the (soon-to-be)leader of the free world give an eloquent and inspiring speech - something that has been sorely missing for the last 8 years. Perhaps the rest of the world will respect the US a bit more, too. That can't hurt.

Jim said...

Our local races were very tight. In the House race, Mr. Van Wie squeaked out a win by 88 votes, after losing by nearly 350 in Durham. Apparently, in the past few years, we've become a Republican town.

I'll be careful what I say here, so I don't get a bunch of right-wing trolls attacking me again for exercising my first amendment rights, but Van Wie worked diligently, knocking on doors, greeting voters, even standing outside the polls, shaking people's hands when they arrived to vote. He outworked his competitor. He's a principled man, from what I can tell and I look forward to his representation. I certainly have more in common with his view of where we need to go as a state.

As for the national election, I chose to go third-party for a variety of reasons, most of it having to do with my distaste for both major parties.

I hope Obama is able to forge his own vision, and doesn't get pushed into an ideological box. Since we know very little about the candidate, at this point, only time will tell how well he'll govern.