Well, despite my fears, nobody stole the election. And though I wrote that I didn’t buy into the “messianic” fervor of many Obama supporters and didn’t expect to see “fundamental change” in Washington no matter what the election results, I was still thinking about how policy was made, not about what an Obama presidency would mean for this country and its ability to move forward. I had forgotten that, in ways that remain important, casting this vote for a black guy can be a pretty big deal. Last night, watching the maps across three different news sites turning blue—not “blue for Democrats,” but “blue for Change”—I was filled with pride in my country and its people.
Today, I was fascinated to see what a roundup of pundits had to say about the election. As you might expect, some were celebratory that their guy won; some remained critical of Obama, but proud that America could take this step; and some were predictably cantankerous and crazy. A couple comments stood out to me, though.
One, by James Wolcott, offers some food for thought:
It amazes me how commentators, especially conservative commentators, can argue that (a) Obama is a socialistic avatar and a radical redistributionist and yet (b) that his election doesn’t mean that the voters have been pulled to the left or bestowed a liberal mandate—that the U.S. is still (this week’s reigning buzzphrase) “a center-right country.”
And another, particularly reflexive comment by Ezra Klein, says what I think a lot of us have been hoping to hear some pundit admit, some day:
Ackerman asks, “Remember in 2003 and 2004, when there was all this talk about how the Democrats were in danger of no longer being a national party?” I do remember that. I also remember how Democrats had to get religion if they ever wanted to be competitive again. I also remember how they had to appeal to the white heartland by nominating candidates more culturally recognizable to rural voters. Instead, they went in the opposite direction, running a candidate who was recognizable to the majority coalition Democrats hoped to have in 10 years. It seems to have worked out pretty well. It’s almost as if pundits don’t really know what they’re talking about.
At the end of the day, of course, it’s possible that The Onion nails it with its headline, “Nation finally shitty enough to make social progress”:
“Today the American people have made their voices heard, and they have said, ‘Things are finally as terrible as we’re willing to tolerate,” said Obama, addressing a crowd of unemployed, uninsured, and debt-ridden supporters. “To elect a black man, in this country, and at this time—these last eight years must have really broken you.”
Added Obama, “It’s a great day for our nation.”
Carrying a majority of the popular vote, Obama did especially well among women and young voters, who polls showed were particularly sensitive to the current climate of everything being fucked.
Whatever, I’ll take it. Go progress!
But does this mean, in some sort of weird, backhanded way, that the Bush administration can be thanked for one of the most meaningful political decisions of our lifetimes?