November 5, 2008

The morning after

And I feel spent. Exhausted. I dreamt all night of politics and Obama and our friends.

I was reminded during the returns last night of how I felt 4 years ago. You can read about it here, though I warn you it is angry and harsh. Looking back on that obscenity-laced post, I remember how dark that day was. I must say, however, that my fears were not extreme and they were not irrational. Bush didn't invade another country (yet) but the rest is dead on. Bush continued to govern without reason and play on our fears and hatreds. Conservative Christians didn't even mind when Bush tortured. I am loathe to gloat, but for those, like James Dobson, Richard Land, I hope last night was a bit painful.

But this morning, we look at a new hope. A hope mixed with fear and realism, of course. The same paranoid style of hatred that characterized the right's response to Clinton (remember the video that Falwell sent out?). I am sure the people who believe that Obama is secretly a Muslim will find their cohorts on hate radio, and unfortunately, in church pews.

More to the point, Obama faces unprecedented problems in the economy, environment, and foreign policy realm. This vote was not a magic cure for those problems. There is no guarantee that Democrats can solve these problems. Now, we will see if the country can be unified to any workable degree, and if Obama can lead us to some solutions, however imperfect they may be.

The Republican party and conservative Church finds themselves having to make their own decisions. Will they continue down that Palin road? The one that encourages hatred of others and dismisses intellect and science? The one that resends the emails about Obama's muslim past and mocks community organizers? Or will they reassert some semblance of a conservatism that is not obsessed with gays and abortion? The love affair with the mean-spirited Palin suggests to me that the Republican party will continue down that road where science is a punchline and God is an American.

The Democrats will need to move forward with, as our party and country leader noted last night, humility for the tasks ahead.

But for this morning, I will enjoy the results. I feel just a little better than I did four years ago.


leighton said...

I imagine that as far as public opinion is concerned, this is a mirror image of 2004. The same people who felt then that after years of darkness, the country was finally stepping into the light of day, now despair that a night is falling that may never end; and vice versa.

Obama cleaned out the electoral college, but he got an (estimated) 52% of the popular vote, barely more (percentagewise) than the 51% Bush won in '04. McCain's results were worse than Kerry's, but I don't think (as some sites have claimed) that the American people have given Obama a mandate for change, any more than Bush had a mandate in '04 to do whatever it was that he planned to do at the time. Enough of us either liked Obama or disliked the McCain and the Republicans enough to put Obama into office. That's all. We voted for the chance to fight for unity, rather than unity itself.

At this point Obama will do whatever he's going to do, and realistically, I don't have the contacts or the resources to influence that in any noticeable way. What I am going to try to do, though, is get more locally involved with social issues--not because I believe in Obama (though some days I do), but because this past year has convinced me that it needs doing. And I think enough people doing that on large scales--working together to agree on concrete, physical issues like making sure people have food, housing, medical care, physical safety, fair representation in the justice system, etc.--is the only possible backdrop for disagreeing on language and ideas in a consistently civil way. Lasting unity requires an investment in the well-being of people we don't particularly like. And that's damned hard; but enough people are starting to try that it's become easier, I think, than it was ten or five or two years ago.

Off to work...

steves said...

Interestingly enough, Barack Obama is the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote since 1976. He is only the fourth Democrat in the party's entire 180-year history to be elected with more than 51% of the vote.