Saturday, October 25, 2008

Post No. 60: Why I am Concerned that Obama Might Win

© 2008, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

Earlier this evening, I had a conversation with a friend, Lawrence, about the prospect that Obama might actually pull this thing off. Lawrence, an Obama supporter, participated in a neighborhood campaign drive several weeks ago.

He turned and looked at me with a slight tinge of amazement, when I said that I hoped that Obama did not win this election.

You see, it’s not that I have anything of real substance against Obama. However, I just do not honestly think that America is ready for a black president. Plain and simple. We’re not there yet.
Same goes for a woman president. Does that mean that I feel that the battle should not be fought? Of course not.

This has nothing to do with my personal views – just my thoughts watching the battle and the soldiers on both sides. Certain more optimistic or lofty-ideal commentators have spoken about how far our country has come, and the message which it will send to the world.

Let me provide an analogy which might better explain my concern.

There are many legal organizations, which advocate certain positions, and wait for years to pursue the appropriate “test case” to advance their positions. Timing is very important. The mood of the country, the facts of the case, the strength of the plaintiff, the financial resources available, and the judges on the bench, are all factors.

Such cases are not prosecuted carelessly, without considering the big picture / long term effects.

As much of an optimist as I portray myself, there are some practical issues about which I am very concerned.

First, I think that we are in for some very difficult economic times for several years to come.

Second, to the extent that any purported damage done by the current folks in power can be addressed, it will take a long time to perform any corrective action.

Third, this war thing is not going to be resolved as quickly and easily as we might argue, no matter which side is telling it.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, we don’t have the financial resources to do much of anything.

We all know, on a practical level, that when times are bad, fault and blame are placed on the executive in charge, and the party in control of Congress.

Imagine the discourse while Obama presides over all of these complications. I can tell you how soon the criticism of his policies is going to start.

I have a fear that should he win, within 2 years, the electorate will be calling for his head. And his opponents will undoubtedly demonize him and say, “I told you so.”


Economic hardship and pain have a way of quickly erasing all memory about the good times associated with the successful candidate’s election, and the good times that he anticipates down the road.

The patience of the electorate will get short. Real short.

And it is not just Obama about whom I am theoretically concerned. I would be just as concerned about the first woman to occupy the office. Or the first Hispanic.

Quite frankly, the first of any group, after years of conspicuous absence of similar individuals, should not be remembered for bad times. I’d almost have him lose this one and win the next one, when the economy is on the upswing. But then again, there may not be another time.

And so I told Lawrence, there is only so much that a president can do, and that the problems are global and deep rooted in nature. Lawrence looked at me and said, despite that, he wanted a president who inspired hope around the world. Is that a good enough reason to want to see Obama win?

You tell me.

P.S. In the end, Hillary may have been the victor.

© 2008, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

25 comments:

  1. It needs to be Obama for the sake of leadership. This man has the temperment, intelligence, and charisma to lead our country (and the free world) through the problems created by the careless Bush-Cheney administration. Even if he's a 1-term president, we will be better off for his time in office.

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  2. Thanks much Holly for commenting. You've stated an interesting position regarding the potential of a one term presidency. I well understand your sentiment, however, do we want to "sacrifice" Obama in this way? Do we want his legacy to be that he failed just because he was a better potential leader than McCain? Will future blacks who aspire to that position be given little consideration because Obama failed to carry the mantle? Tough stuff. Thanks for engaging us.

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  3. While I have some fears for Obama, he himself is well aware of all the problems he will face and he is willing to do so. There are at least three pressing reasons to hope he wins. First it will be an inspiration to a generation of children. Not just children of color, to all children who have few positive role models in these days of corruption and depravity among "celebrities". Second the world will see that Americans are ready to change for the better. Yes, President Obama can sway entire countries, even continents, merely by his very existence. In Africa it might mean that China might not be able to squeeze the natural resources of the continent as easily as they have begun to do. Asia might just be confused by it. Europeans will embrace him. South Americans will feel all warm and fuzzy etc. Third is that he will not only press for energy independence, he will do so without trying to build a nuclear power plant in every backyard. Good God for such an intelligent man McCain's mind seems to have veered off into never-never land if he thinks building nuclear plants with radioactive waste that has a half life of 500,000 years or more will work. Perhaps if we had a working space elevator to haul the stuff off-planet it might be viable but even with rescuing spent fuel the waste problem is impossible. All we need to hope is that he concentrates on energy, mending fences, and that he doesn't press an agenda for "redistributing wealth" or deciding how much wealth a person can make before having it redistributed to those who need it more.

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  4. Interesting post. I wonder, if Obama had seen the economic melt-down coming, would he have waited.

    There is a lot of positive energy behind his campaign right now.If elected and assuming he is unable to right the ship in the first 2 years (hell, he'll need to show progress in the first 100 days!)he could be facing a real s-storm of negative bounce-back.

    n another not: thanks for the encouraging words. I appreciate it.

    IB

    http://idiotsstew.blogspot.com

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  5. Thanks June for your very well thought out comment. While I agree with much that you outlined from a theoretical perspective, in roughly four years from now, the primary question during the campaign will be, "Are we better off now than we were in 2008?" As much as I would like to be optimistic, I do not see it. I'm afraid that we're in for a long decline, and the fat cats, to borrow a phrase from Woody Allen, "Took the money and ran."

    I discussed this with another friend this morning, who suspects that this has been the plan all along, namely to hand over a sinking ship to the next leader. It might explain some of the choices made by the conservatives, which defy some traditional logic.

    In thinking about it further, for many years I have said, “It’s always bigger than you.” My new phrase is “It’s always bigger than you, and always bigger than the here and now.”

    Thanks again for your participation.

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  6. Thanks IB. This article is generating tremendous response. Just spoke to a buddy who also focused on the positive energy, and the fact that all we might have left is the power of persuasion. Unfortunately, I doubt that there will be a honeymoon of any sort, and that the criticism will start within the first 30 days of Obama being in office. There is no reason, on a practical level, why Obama's detractors would be motivated to do otherwise. They consider this man to be the lowest form of life on the planet, and have criticized him accordingly. What would motivate them to change their position once he is in office.

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  7. From the posts above and the essence of the article – it looks to me like Race is indeed an issue in this election. Not the normal negative (I’m not voting for him because he is black) but the opposite – I am voting FOR him because he is black. This is very troubling. If you ask anyone why they vote for a candidate and they say because he/she is cute, is a good speaker, or looks more presidential, you would be just as disappointed. This election is for the Democrats to lose. The Republicans have moved away from their traditional policies of low taxes, individual freedom, free market economics and limited government. Unfortunately, the Democrats espouse more taxes, larger government, limited individual freedom and state managed economic policy.

    To say there will be a limit to the potential rewards of entrepreneurial activity smacks of what one might hear in Russia, Venezuela or Cuba, not here. If Obama were more of a centrist like Bill Clinton or John Kennedy, I would be right with you. But he isn’t – His presidency will be more like Jimmy Carter’s. I lived through that time and don’t look forward to it again. Speaking of John Kennedy, he would have to run as a Republican in 2008!

    This redistribution of wealth comment is very telling. It may be worth revisiting the life cycle of democracy:

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years.

    These nations have progressed through this sequence:
    from bondage to spiritual faith
    from spiritual faith to great courage
    from courage to liberty
    from liberty to abundance
    from abundance to selfishness
    from selfishness to complacency
    from complacency to apathy
    from apathy to dependency
    from dependency back to bondage.”
    -- Alexander Fraser Tytler (1742-1813)

    At a time when Europe is moving back to Conservatism, reigning in their untenable socialist programs that has weakened them and made them militarily dependent upon the United States, we are about to elect someone who is going to follow down the same road. Don’t confuse jealousy with hate.

    Don’t base your vote on the color of one's skin!

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  8. Coop, thanks much. Welcome back. We've missed you. Now with all pleasantries addressed, identify one part of the original post or the comments which suggest that the folks are black or even voting for Obama because he is black. You know that I'm not black, and I can tell you that none of the commenters are black.

    My original point is that I would wish ANY first time occupant of such a high office well in their performance, even if I disagreed with their policies and positions, because I think that it is important that the first of any group do well when given the opportunity.

    This issue really has nothing to do with Obama. It transcends Obama. It's about given the chance, will the batter make contact with the ball. People can potentially wish others well, even when we disagree with them.

    One other thing. My black friends in business will tell you that the most difficult people in corporate america from whom to acquire business is other black people. Blacks are far more likely to be given an opportunity to perform by white folks than by other black folks. Black managers and supervisors, with some degree of good reason, are pragmatically concerned that by choosing another black employee, should there be satisfaction down the road, they will be blamed for only hiring the person because he was blamed. In big government and big business, you do not want to be second-guessed for making a bad decision, IF IT CAN BE TRACED BACK TO YOU.

    In this political contest, I would dare say that there are many black people who are not voting for Obama exactly because he is black. Is that equally reprehensible? Perhaps. Although race theoretically should not matter, it apparently does to a lot of people.

    Another point. When Clarence Thomas was nominated for the Supreme Court, I can virtually guarantee you that 95% of black lawyers in this country were opposed to him. Why, because he was viewed by many as not qualified, and an embarrassment to the black legal profession. There were scores of black legal scholars around this country, many of whom were conservative and anti-affirmative action who could have been nominated and represented the profession honorably.

    Ask any knowledgeable black professional if they would ever support Ward Connerly, Shelby Steele, or Thomas Sowell for anything. Lots of blacks oppose their views, not support them because of their skin color.

    Finally, blacks are in a no win situation

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  9. These are the comments from one of our regular readers, who wishes to remain anonymous:

    My thoughts all along have been similar to the reasons you outlined in your original post. It is all about timing...if not now, then it never will be in the next eight years (electing a black individual or a woman).
    I always wondered why the RNC wanted to give the nomination to the current person rather than Romney.... Why run a 72 yr old against a robust-looking 46 yr old. I am thinking of JFK vs his opponent... that there is a youth movement that has been building momentum for the last ten years, but has gone unrecognized by the powers that be. (My son, who is in his twenties, pointed this out to me years ago; however, I did not fully appreciate it until I attended a sold out New Year's Eve church service in which the audience consisted mostly of those under age 25!!
    Also, usually the powers that be will toss the bone to a newcomer when their ship is sinking, and let the new captain take the heat for its' failure. That happens in big business also.

    Obama has a presence about him that can inspire/sway a crowd to follow him. That's the mark of a leader. You can always assemble a team of crack lieutenants who are experts in their fields to carry out your plan.

    Look at how the German crowd responded to him a few months ago.

    I do worry about zealots and his overall safety (from a national perspective and from a global perspective.) Ghandi...Indira Ghandi ..MLK..RFK..JFK...even Princess Diana (immensely popular globally).

    None of these problems are going away in the next four years (including the wars that we are engaged in... there's money to be made in times of "war".)… oil companies and profits....Halliburton/Kellogg, etc....

    ... and he is so thin!!! Just want to feed him!! (smile) I hope that his health will withstand the rigors that he will be faced with!
    I want to attend the Inaugural Ball !!! How can I get there?!

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  10. Hey guys I'm as paranoid as the next guy or gal but I won't give the Conservative wing of the Republican party the credit for the foresight that you are speaking of ( elect someone to have them fail )nor the organizational skills to engineer a McCain nomination followed by his loss. The Republican party was placed in the position of blame for Bush's failed polices. They were unlikely to offer up a Bush/Cheney clone and who was in the running? A conservative with a down home Jimmy Carter warmth and sense of humor like Huckabee? He had serious foot in mouth problems due to his honesty. BTW, I like Huckabee as a human being but do not believe that politics and religion should mix especially at the presidential level. Plus, if the name President Obama seems a little odd can you imagine a name like President Huckabee? Gosh Darn people would as likely elect a President Dukakis. Romney had a better shot but he made people uncomfortable. Had that insurance/car salesman feel to him. Think these things are too trivial to count in nominating a candidate and electing a President of the United States of America? Think again. You just know that while these sorts of things won't affect all people or even MOST people, they affect SOME people. Enough to God help us all affect the outcome of an election barring any strong feeling for one candidate or another.

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  11. Thanks much June. Very well written, as usual. I'm not a conspiracy enthusiast either; however, lots of strange things occurred during this campaign, and I struggle with the lack of a real contender being put forth by the Republicans. It was almost as if they didn't really try.

    Someone asked me about Romney earlier today. Apart from being too John Edwards-type slick, in my view, there is a simple explanation for his failure to pull off the GOP nomination. Quite simply, Mormonism.

    America is still not comfortable with that religion, and it's too new in evolution to have made the evangelicals comfortable. Let's not forget that in 1960, it was the Catholic religion, with which many of us at least had experience at the time. (Thousands of years.) Still haven't had a Jewish president (at least not officially), although I strongly suspect that we may have had one at some point, but that he kept it hidden to avoid assasination.

    Here's the problem with Mormonism for main stream America. They were run out of one locale for certain practices which others did not appreciate. The explanation as to why they landed where they did out west is not as straightforward as traditionalists like for the miracle stories to be. That multiple wife thing is a big issue, even if it is now officially condemned, even if no one but me is willing to talk about. I mean come on, if a guy could secretly get him an extra wife, and the other wife are not opposed to it, how many religious guys would pass that up.

    Finally, bad timing for the Church of Latter Day Saints, because that Jeffers sect had some suspicions raised about underage girls. Good luck trying to explain all of that when the Jews have had a polished and time tested story and still have not been able to pull the presidency off. (BTW, Lieberman is dun fur.) We're a culture that has to have stuff grow on us gradually over time. Can't move too fast on these equality and equal access issues. We might break something.

    You know, we do a dance (perhaps a ballet) in this country and espouse high ideals. The reality is that we are very conflicted and difficult to assess.

    I must run now to determine whether the internet rumors to the effect that Palin has bolted away from the party line and has started doing her "own thang" are "really twue." This is absolutely wild. I hope that we have it on film for posterity's sake. Our descendants would never believe it.

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  12. Hi Reggie! Thanks for dropping at my blog. Though I am not an American, I somehow understand the situation in your country, in terms of of economics and humanity. I'm not sure if you will understand this, but what I can only say is in any country, we need a leader who has the wisdom. A leader who speaks in righteousness and talks in justice. Whether for a leader or for the common people, the two greatest law of God should be abide to gain success and prosperity economically and spiritually. 1. The love of God and 2. The love of our neighbors. By following these two greatest laws, all the laws of the world will follow in order. A peaceful and high-spirited people always gain success.

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  13. Thanks Vic for your uplifting comment. Most of us could benefit from taking the philosophical route with more frequency.

    We would appreciate your continued viewing of our blog. The view of someone with roots outside of the US could provide us with a broader perspective of the issues discussed. Thanks again.

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  14. Quite frankly I think whomever wins the White House, we are in for an extended period of one problem after another. We're a country that believes in quick fixes to our problems, and we've allowed them to grow until the quick solutions are increasingly unable to make things look "right" again.

    One example is the credit crisis. We've spent decades "borrowing our way to prosperity", with a succession of leaders (from both parties) encouraging Americans to continue to spend to help the economy grow. But most of that spending has been the result of rapidly increasing debts. Even when we finally work through the current round of problem debts, we still need to address the massive debt load of the country as a whole, both personally and at the government levels.

    There are a number of other issues, from energy policy (yes oil is getting cheap again, something I am almost sorry to see since interest in alternative energy will quickly fade if it remains low) to medicine to the impending retirement of a large, experienced portion of the workforce.

    Between the electorate's desire for easy fixes and the politician' desire to get re-elected (and thus pandering to the notion that problems can be fixed that easily) I fear we've got some tough times awaiting us.

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  15. Beautiful Robert. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree that we need a paradigm shift in terms of our definition of "quality of life" or "standard of living."

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  16. I find it hard to see why you wouldn't want the best man for the job, regardless of what social faultlines he may highlight.
    In Britain we had an incredibly successful woman Prime Minister in Thatcher, Germany have Angela Merkel as chancellor - there will always be a vocal minority criticising these landmark appointments, but how can doubters be proven wrong if you don't elect someone to do it.

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  17. True, being the first of anything means that you will be placed under the microscope a tad bit close than normal. But the trick is to see this two as candidates , nothing more. Which one presents the better case, it would be best to vote as if these two were both white men (no pun intended), no difference except their platforms. Which would be the better President? What happens next is in their hands, besides kennedy was the first catholic president of the US and he didn't do too bad..

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  18. Thanks for your comment on my Blog. I have just spent the last hour reading through your postings. I am intrigued by your point of view and the eloquent way in which you expressing your thoughts. To be honest, yours is the first blog I have actually read through. I created a blog strictly to keep my family and friends updated with what was going on in my life while I am living in London. I have never spent the time to find out what others blog about.

    Thank you for sharing your views and being so honest about your thoughts. I think that you address issues and thoughts that most people sweep under the carpet.

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  19. This is my second post, so I'm feeling around in the dark, here.

    For background see Adam Curtis, The Power of Myth, The Century of the Self and The Corporation.

    This political system is corrupted to the point that the candidates only need a limited skill set to serve the corporate will.

    The electorate is being gamed.

    The mess that is this country is much deeper than I've seen anyone hear yet recognize. Another reading suggestion is theoildrum.com to familiarize oneself with resources, their use/abuse/depletion and consequential havoc they will play with whatever carbon based unit is sitting in the white house.

    RBM

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  20. Thanks much LISA for the kind words which you left on my blog. In particular, I appreciated the fact that you took the time to actually "digest" some of the thoughts. I've been formulating them for years, but did not choose to express them until fairly recently. Always knew that I was the odd ball out, but just needed to test the ideological waters to see if I was really alone.

    I'll tell you this. I've probably checked out over 300 blogs in the last 6 months. Additionally, I just attended a blogging convention. The experience has opened up a whole new whole for me, and I thought that I was pretty adventurous before. Enjoy, and be sure to visit often. I appreciate it.

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  21. Thanks again Anonymous / RBM for posting another comment. I'll say this. I suspect that we can agree on the result / current state of affairs, namely that (1) our political system has failed us, (2) the skill set of our politicians is limited, and (3)they appear to advance corporate interests more so than the interests of the general public.

    That being said, I am not a cynical as you are. By that, I mean that I do not believe that any of our elected officials head to Washington and consciously expect to take advantage of their positions and game the American people.

    I think that there is something to the phrase, "We came to Washington to change Washington, and Washington changed us."

    George Will refers to the "inertia that is Washington." I think that we can do a better job of structuring the system. Our leaders have to sell their souls in an effort to get anything done under the current two party system.

    My view may be a fiction or perhaps naive; however, it permits me to remain optimistic that positive change can be achieved. Otherwise, I would become a bitter old man and quit trying to advance the agenda. I have no interest in being bitter, and I suspect that you feel similarly.

    Tell us RBM, what would you suggest that we do to correct the system, or identify some of the candidates, or potential candidates, who you believe represent a new approach to our governance? Would you shake things up by mandating a third political party and provide tax payer money to finance it for a short time until it measures up to the current two parties?

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  22. Article appearing in the Onion a couple of days ago, "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job."
    http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/black_man_given_nations

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  23. These are the comments from one of our regular readers, who wishes to remain anonymous:

    My thoughts all along have been similar to the reasons you outlined in your original post. It is all about timing...if not now, then it never will be in the next eight years (electing a black individual or a woman).
    I always wondered why the RNC wanted to give the nomination to the current person rather than Romney.... Why run a 72 yr old against a robust-looking 46 yr old. I am thinking of JFK vs his opponent... that there is a youth movement that has been building momentum for the last ten years, but has gone unrecognized by the powers that be. (My son, who is in his twenties, pointed this out to me years ago; however, I did not fully appreciate it until I attended a sold out New Year's Eve church service in which the audience consisted mostly of those under age 25!!
    Also, usually the powers that be will toss the bone to a newcomer when their ship is sinking, and let the new captain take the heat for its' failure. That happens in big business also.

    Obama has a presence about him that can inspire/sway a crowd to follow him. That's the mark of a leader. You can always assemble a team of crack lieutenants who are experts in their fields to carry out your plan.

    Look at how the German crowd responded to him a few months ago.

    I do worry about zealots and his overall safety (from a national perspective and from a global perspective.) Ghandi...Indira Ghandi ..MLK..RFK..JFK...even Princess Diana (immensely popular globally).

    None of these problems are going away in the next four years (including the wars that we are engaged in... there's money to be made in times of "war".)… oil companies and profits....Halliburton/Kellogg, etc....

    ... and he is so thin!!! Just want to feed him!! (smile) I hope that his health will withstand the rigors that he will be faced with!
    I want to attend the Inaugural Ball !!! How can I get there?!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Interesting post. I wonder, if Obama had seen the economic melt-down coming, would he have waited.

    There is a lot of positive energy behind his campaign right now.If elected and assuming he is unable to right the ship in the first 2 years (hell, he'll need to show progress in the first 100 days!)he could be facing a real s-storm of negative bounce-back.

    n another not: thanks for the encouraging words. I appreciate it.

    IB

    http://idiotsstew.blogspot.com

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  25. Thanks much Holly for commenting. You've stated an interesting position regarding the potential of a one term presidency. I well understand your sentiment, however, do we want to "sacrifice" Obama in this way? Do we want his legacy to be that he failed just because he was a better potential leader than McCain? Will future blacks who aspire to that position be given little consideration because Obama failed to carry the mantle? Tough stuff. Thanks for engaging us.

    ReplyDelete

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