OK, folks, there's nothing to see here, move on. The third debate has concluded, and as a columnist put it, we've reached the end of a long road of debates, soon to wrap up our even longer campaign season for the presidency. It's not up to the McCain-Palin team anymore. They can't change the dynamics of race to the White House. Maybe I should take this back. They can make it worse for them. Did you see Mac on Letterman? He said he knew the reputation of Sarah Palin. Sounds too highschoolish to me. Those signs their supporters wave, "America First," should serve a reminder to big Mac--that his VP choice shouldn't have been done like his first blind date.
Now the question is whether the US Senate will have a Democratic super-majority. It's almost 50-50 right now. If the Dems get very close to a comfortable majority--especially if conservative icons like McConnell and Dole are defeated--Sen. majority leader, Harry Reid, will be able to get a couple Repubs to stop the filibuster (60 votes needed), and perhaps to jump ship.
Another intriguing scenario is for President Obama (oh, that sounds great, doesn't it?) to appoint Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to a position in his government. Olympia is a fine human being and a very moderate politician who I happen to know and like. She's also a dying species in the GOP, as the latter has turned/surrendered to extremes. I couldn't understand why she has remained in a GOP controlled by the loonies. The Maine gov. is a Dem, and govs appoint people to fill vacant senatorial seats until the next election. BO and the Dems will have the opportunity to do good. On the other hand, they'll have no excuse if they fail. With power comes responsibility. Soon we'll see if they're up to the task.
Leadership is important. A wise leader can steer our ship, elevate the political discourse, focus the attention of the nation on the important issues, etc. Or, not! As we all know from the injurious leadership of the worst president ever!
I'm looking forward to this election with a good feeling that I haven't experienced in a very long time. Last time we thought we'd have excellent chance of winning was in the Clinton years.
But, let me clarify the "we" part. I'm a progressive liberal above all, and I would have liked to see more progressive politicians win. Yet, I understand the country and my fellow Americans... they are more conservative, or middle-of-the-road species. Gradualism (moving slowly, like molasses) isn't attractive either when you want to get to the promised land asap. [this is a metaphor, not a religious reference]
In kindergarten I was taught to compare and contrast. Didn't forget that. By doing so, and assuming some minimum standards are met, I choose to support individuals for leadership positions. Democrats come the closest to my ideology, my views, my aspirations, and the vision for the future. Clinton (and his Democratic Leadership Council) was too conservative, but I understood the big difference between Clinton and any Repub. So, I was elated he won.
Barack Obama holds more promise; I hope he delivers, even though I expect him to disappoint many people when he doesn't deliver all the things they expect and demand. That's politics, especially in a big and diversified country like the US. Our own politician system is designed for gridlock and slow change, though change is not only desirable but also possible under a president who understands the times and manages to steer the country into the right direction. That's very important, more important today since our country has been seriously injured under the tutelage of George Bush and his Republican party! There's simply no margin for errors any more.
Back in June, I thought [wrote about it on this blog] that there was a good chance this election would produce a new political realignment, and that, unless the Dem nominee committed political suicide, the election wouldn't be close. BO has scratched the surface of the heavy coats of paints piled by the conventional media. There were certain trends going on for a long while in our country, and, finally, BO managed to ride the wave into an seemingly improbable victory in Iowa--a very white state that GW Bush had won in 2004. That demonstrated BO could energize lots of people, many of whom were newcomers to politics. Hundreds of thousands of new voters came out in the middle of winter to participate in the caucuses! This tremendous wave has continued. I don't see why it won't show in the general election too. BO also proved many people wrong (including some of his advisers) that the country wasn't ready to elect a black man president.
The other trend was the Hispanic vote. This block is the new majority of the minorities. It is socially conservative, but issues like immigration and, yes, the economy, has driven it to the Democrats by 2 to 1 margin. This appears to be solidifying. If they stick with the Dem party of a couple more elections, we'll be talking about a huge advantage--bigger than the one the GOP enjoyed via its "Southern strategy."
The country has been undergoing some important trends. Older people with stale views (including racism) have been dying off and the new gens don't have the same racial biases as their parents. Population growth and movements within the country. The GOP has lost ground in some of the "reddest" states that are becoming "purple" if not blue!
There's been a cultural change too. Americans under 40 see the world differently than those over 50. Technology, information explosion, rise of education, peace and relative prosperity, all have been attitude changers. What generational change? Let me give you a great example: Same-sex marriage. While the country overall rejects it, Americans under 30 overwhelmingly approve it, or are not bothered by it.
Studies have shown that if a young person (under 30) votes 2-3 times for the same party then he/she will remain loyal in their later years as well. The young vote (at least the ones that bother to vote) is heavily Democratic today.
Furthermore, in the last 25 years there has been a change regarding:
- The role of government! This has been one fundamental difference between the conservatives and liberals the last 2 centuries. Majorities now want the government to be more active not an impotent observer. The latest excesses of Wall Street and the financial debacle further reinforced this view.
- Moral absolutism is no more! People today more readily accept that as long as others don't trample on their rights, it's OK for others to have their own morality. The government should not be used to impose and intrude.
- The US foreign policy should not be of unilateralism and only via brute force. Bush's disastrous war has divided our friends and united our enemies. Our country's standing in the world has declined. Americans seem to understand this.
What I think will happen after the election is that the GOP will go through an identity crisis, because political realignments signal a repudiation of a party's ideology, policy, and leadership. I hope that the Republican party will emerge as a modern party that embraces tolerance, has a modern view of the role of government, and finally rejects ignorance! However, I don't see this happening any time soon. I expect most of the conservatives (like many people do in times of crisis) to fall back on their "tried & true" dogma. It might take another election or two of bad defeats for them to change course and revise their ideology.