Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Right now, the people are going to the polls. Not the usual people. Not the political junkies, the special interest groups, the religious Right, but THE PEOPLE.
Even though racial fear is making the election extremely close, Barack Obama, regardless of skin color, has transformed American politics, and campaign finance. Now the question is, if he wins tonight, can he change government and live up to the expectations of the millions of people who gave $9, $15, and $50.00, who signed up by the hundreds of thousands to vote not for a Democrat ideology, but for the idea of democracy itself.
The pressure, as Mr. Obama goes to Washington, is squarely on him. It’s kind of the booby prize. You’ve won, now fix everything, and get it done yesterday.
The Bush Administration, wanting to make sure that Obama founders, left him Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in some sort of Narnian winter-freeze that will have to be melted to free the fiscal empire of the United States.
That political hot potato, particularly in the hands of the Congress, should cause quite a few Maalox moments for Obama as he tries to wrestle the two very fractious parties that have spent the last twenty-six years acting more like the Hatfields and McCoys shooting at one another than the United States Congress.
By the very fact of his election, though, Obama is served a large mandate to curb both the more liberal enthusiasms of the Nancy Pelosi crowd and the more knee-jerk reaction of some social issue-driven Republican Congressmen and senators.
In fact, moderate Dems and fiscally conservative Republicans might well be forming a coalition or two to get their business, and the business of the people done under Obama, because they will, if he stays with his proposed agenda, definitely have the ear of the White House.
It will be a very cold and sobering Wednesday on K-Street as well. The simple realization that the American people have batted back the attack ads, the hate agenda, and the smear tactics, pretty much everything that the special interests and lobbyists had to fire at the voters, will mean that it is not business as usual heading into the next four years.
This country has been ruled by Political Action Committees (PAC) who have given lifeblood money and who have manipulated the airwaves since the latter days of Jimmy Carter before Ronald Reagan wiped the electoral map with him.
Obama’s ground game, which leverages the Internet, will be studied for a long time. He is turning out people at the usual campaign offices, albeit stuffed with volunteers. The system of reaching voters is so complete that people are often, much to the annoyance of some voters, making contact with people three and four times. It is also focusing people at home on making phone calls via an Internet system called MyBarackObama.com at home.
It is that latter system which may also help Obama after the election. He has created a massive network which, with a little sophistication, will still allow people who can help both support and articulate his “bottom up” policy initiatives.
Ronald Reagan used the television to bury the Congress in telegrams when he thought that it was not doing his, er, the people’s bidding.
Obama, if he preserves his network of loyal voters, can reach out to a social political network the likes of which has never been seen before.
It may be that agent of Change which gives Obama the ability to keep a handle on the House and Senate, a vivid reminder that it is the people, not big oil, big pharma, or big insurance that give him his mandate.
If, on the other hand, Mr. McCain wins, by hook or crook, the status quo will continue for another four lamentable years, and the religious right will silence the fiscal conservative wing of the party for another decade.
In many ways, it might be better for the GOP for McCain to lose. It would give the moderates of the party an ability to voice the idea that the only way that the GOP will be able to capture that newly energized “independent” voter by speaking to them without the fear and extreme rhetoric of the right.
Perhaps the best news today, though, is that your news will go back to being news, and after you read this, the name Joe the Plumber should, thankfully, slip into the bizarre hall of history that includes Clara Peller’s “Where’s the Beef!”
If you want to get Joe out of your head, try Alec Baldwin’s riff on Sarah Palin. He called her “Bible Spice” on a recent Late Night with David Letterman. Priceless.
The biggest shame is that Barack Obama’s grandmother passed last night, and did not live long enough to see him make history.
Help him make it. GO VOTE!