I Don't Think You Were Listening

These are the last comments that I’m going to be making about Obama’s election for a while.  Yesterday, I made a point of watching a little Fox News, catching some of the daytime programming on WTMJ, and generally gathering a sense of the conservative reaction to the presidential election (which, if you were at or watched a McCain rally in the days leading up to November 4th, you may have expected would have included a military coup by this time).  It seems strange that my reasons for voting as I did really came into focus ON election day; at least now to the point where I feel I can easily verbalize them, and talk a little about what I expect or don’t expect from the incoming administration.

From what I watched or heard yesterday, there seems to be a sense among conservatives that people who voted for Obama think that he’s the second coming of Christ; that we think he’s going to walk into the Oval Office, lay hands on the desk and fix everything by January 21.  Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case, this is not even remotely true.  And sure, I must grant that there are plenty of people who are going to not like the next president no matter what happens, or no matter what he does.  They’re not interested in hearing what he says or figuring out the sort of leader he will be.  For anyone else, let me highlight some of my reasoning:

  • Obama is a fresh voice on the national political stage that hasn’t had the time to be absorbed into the “establishment.” In my mind, that is a good thing.  Obama doesn’t owe anything to an interest group or a lobbyist, or even really to his party as he enters office.  People on both sides wanted to vote for “change” in this election, and Obama’s background is certainly that.  At the same time,
  • Obama is a genuinely intelligent, articulate, charismatic, and even-tempered person. I did not get that vibe from Senator McCain; and I never had that sense from him, even though, as I mentioned the other day, I hope we can get “the old McCain” back now that the campaign is finished.  The method with which I expect Obama to address the issues he’s presented on a daily basis is one of thoughful examination, careful consideration, and intelligent consultation.  These are opposed to the current administration, which seems much more pig-headed, single-minded, and easily influenced.  I think that the new president’s more intellectual or academic nature is going to be extremely beneficial, because
  • Obama has a number of ideas that I think are good, some that I think aren’t great, but he seems open to reasonable and logical argument. In his book, The Audacity of Hope, he discusses the policies and perspectives of It’s my hope that this quality will help him to wrest some control over the members of his party, many of whom I imagine want to get drunk on the power that they saw their political adversaries enjoying early in the Bush administration.  I think it’s been demonstrated that that’s the wrong way to serve one’s constituents, and a sure way to get voted out of office.  Moreover, I get the impression that Obama’s platform and the ideas that got him elected are not set in stone.  I don’t expect every promise to be fulfilled or every idea he put on the table to be picked up again.  But those ideas demonstrated to me that this was a candidate who thought our nation’s issues through and wants to do what’s needed to make things better.

So that’s what I thought about as I voted.  I also wanted to take this opportunity to diffuse some of the rhetoric I heard about what I, as an Obama supporter, am expecting, or what I (allegedly) believe about government:

Let me assure you, this was not a trick. What I heard yesterday from the conservative talking heads about “how this could have happened” focused on “the ways in which Obama supporters were tricked into voting for him.”  Not exactly in those words, but the discussion was framed in such a way that they could go over point-by-point: “Well, Obama said [X], which his supporters understood to mean [Y], and what they’re actually going to get is [Z].”  I didn’t hear any talk about what the Republican party needs to do or change or examine within itself to have the most appealing ideas and convey the best message.  For me, it wasn’t like I drank a potion and fell in love with this freshman senator; I considered his views and felt like they were aligned with mine.  You don’t win elections by tearing the other person down, you do it by building yourself up.

I am aware that Obama isn’t Jesus, and that this journey isn’t over. I don’t come in to the next presidential administration with the mistaken notion that every item Obama talked about is going to be pushed through Congress in the first hundred days or the first 4 years of his term.  I don’t doubt that there will be bumps along the way or unexpected detours.  Again, what is different about this man that made me vote for him is that he seems to see that, too, and he wants EVERYONE to have to a stake in where we’re headed.  Like it or not, we are all citizens of this country, and what we do affects one another.  I don’t think Obama wants to do for everyone; he wants us to WANT to do for each other, and to take pride in where we’re going together.  No matter how much you repeat a buzz word, this isn’t socialism; it is restoration of civic pride and responsibility.

And that sort of makes me think about how much of the advertising and commentary that I heard in the days leading up to the election focused on taxes.  Y’know, here is the truth: rolling back the tax code to the Clinton era is not going to make rich people stop getting rich.  If the rich are still making more money, and the poor are not being trampled as hard or as fast, what’s the problem with that?  If you have the notion, you might seriously want to consider reviewing what factcheck.org had to say about both candidates’ proposals.  Truth be told, neither is perfect, and no one’s ever is.

So I’ll leave it at that.  Listening to the commentary over the last couple days really made me feel that I needed to say something about my perspective on what happens next– now I just hope that we can more forward and reconcile.  One thing that the last administration taught me for certain: bullying your ideas through doesn’t endear anyone to you.  We can’t accomplish anything without each other.

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