Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world

11/5/2008

The Aftermath

Filed under: General,Politics — Tags: , — Dangerous Dan @ 4:11 pm

Here is what I immediately wrote elsewhere last night as the sad returns were coming in:

The Democrats are actually now in a very precarious position (hard to see right now, I know).  They now have control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.  They were elected largely as a reaction of voter discontent with the Republicans and are being given a shot.  Certainly, the Dems made a cottage industry out of blaming Repubs for all sorts of problems since the Repubs were the ones in charge of all three parts.  Well, now the Dems are in charge of all three parts and they'll have more trouble blaming the Repubs for national problems and failures.  The next two years are a referendum on the Democrats.  If they fail to produce, they stand to lose the House and/or the Senate in 2010 (or at least lose seats).

The next four years are a referendum on Obama and expectations are high (really high).  If he fails to produce, he may not make it past 2012.  Unfortunately for Obama, he stands to inherit an economy on the downturn that I argue will be made worse if he implements his various plans.  There are likely to be some important foreign policy decisions and challenges in the next four years too and I'm not confident of his ability to handle them.  I certainly don't think he has a clue how to handle the military.

In short, it ain't over.  It's just beginning.

Happily, I still agree with me 18 hours later.  But let's expand.

The expectations on Obama are ridiculously high.  People typically view the president and presidential candidates as just mistake-prone people.  A special aura has surrounded Obama, however, and his supporters have a near cult-like devotion: the talk of hope in isolation and never hope for anything (which I find peculiar since you can't simply hope, you must hope for something; hope needs an object, but that's never given), the "yes, we can" chanting, how Obama's use of the word 'we' wraps up their identity and hopes in him and that they are one, when really there is just him.  They expect the impossible from their candidate.  Because of this, their disappointment will be immense and Obama's fall from grace terrible.  They will quickly discover that Obama still has a congress to deal with (most of which is up for reelection in just two years), that candidates lie during campaigns and make promises that presidents are incapable of fulfilling by themselves, and that their man's deeds are not as silky as his words.

Part of the problem for Obama supporters is that they really do not know who the man is or how he will really behave in office.  They may claim to know, but Obama's legislative, national, and intellectual records are too sparse to draw anything approaching an accurate view.  The advantage for Obama is that this allowed the supporters to fill in that record with whatever image they chose and they chose a very lofty image that can't be lived up to.  They weren't restricted by a knowledge of the real man and his history and so could enlarge that image as much as desired into a near-mythical status where the mere fact of his election will change things in all the rigth ways.  When they realize he cannot fill out that image, it's not going to be pretty.  The man is going to come out in the messiah.

I expect the economy to get worse before it gets better.  Wall Street and business are not ideologically driven, so those entities do not much care in itself if a Republican or Democrat is president.  They do, however, like stability, which the choosing of a president-elect will now provide.  I suspect, though, that they're nervous about Obama since he openly declared war on both and on the incomes of the people who run them or invest in them.  Look for people to be wary about investing capital so badly needed by companies right now.  Obama has promised to increase the capital gains tax and investors will be relunctant to put their money somewhere where their profits will be 15% smaller than before and where the government will take nearly 30% of it.  If the top marginal tax rates are going to be raised, many of these investors are also worried about how much they can solidly invest and are probably now trying to figure out loopholes to preserve as much of their assets as possible.  Thus, things will likely get worse before Obama even takes office.  Much of the business sector will probably be in a bit of a holding pattern to see what Obama the president, as opposed to Obama the candidate, will attempt to do and what he will be able to do.

The U.S. is a center-right country despite claims that this election shows it moving center-left.  Nearly half the country still voted for McCain, preserving the close to 50-50 split seen the past 20 years.  It's more that the pendulum swings around and the American people occassionally get tired of one party having the power and they give the other one a shot.  Even many Republicans are and have been annoyed with their own party due to its profligate spending and non-adherence to conservative ideals.  This time in the wilderness will hopefully be good for the conservative movement and the GOP and will help both refocus themselves and get back on track.  On the other hand, they could also tear themselves apart with infighting.  I'll hope for the former result.

So, we shall see.  The next two years will be interesting, entertaining and hopefully not damaging.  Who knows, maybe it will even bring this blog back to life.  I hope I won't have to credit Obama with that.

For more good thoughts, refer to Steven Den Beste who said most of the things I was already thinking… but he said them a lot better.

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