Victory for Democrats, new freedom for GOP…

November 5, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

It’s the day after and this white boy is feeling happy as a clam with the victory of Barack Obama, who is the first black man to be elected president of the United States of America.

Do I think that our savior has arrived and all of our problems are solved? Not quite. But for the first time in my adult life (at age 59) I feel jubilant about a presidential election victory.

Not only have I not approved of George W. Bush’s policies, I think that he has tarnished the name of the United States of America for eight years and done great damage to our world reputation. Now usually I am not one to wring my hands about what everyone thinks about us around the world – after all we are a superpower with a lot of responsibilities and we have a long history of fighting against tyranny, World War II being as Winston Churchill said of his own nation’s efforts, “our finest hour”. But Bush took the belligerent course of declaring that our nation could just at will decide to do pre-emptive war. Now sure, who would argue if there were a situation in which we could strike somewhere to prevent a real imminent attack on us? But we all know that is not what we did. And in my opinion, Bush also seemed to push efforts to essentially turn our nation into a Christian theocracy, while decrying the efforts of Islamic terrorists (a real threat) who are working to enforce their form of Islamic theocracy around the world. Both sides are wrong in that one. Admittedly, Bush’s efforts in that regard were much more subtle and non-violent (in terms of what he has done here).

And who could believe that a Republican who claims to be conservative and a fan of the free-wheeling capitalist market and an enemy of big government could have expanded the government, ran our nation into debt – after a Democrat at least balanced the budget – and then ended up having to hand over billions of dollars of taxpayer money to private banks and even have the government step in and take part ownership of the banks? If that is not some form of socialism, I don’t know what is.

I am a certified Bush basher. How he got elected, and two times at that, I am sure I will never fully understand. Part of it was that things did not appear so bad at the time, the electorate was complacent, and the first Democratic challenger worked hard, but not hard enough, and the second one was a little too much of a blow dried wind surfing empty suit.

But in what I believe is the biggest election turnout ever, Americans had their backs to the wall (facing a possible second Great Depression and continuing war in the Middle East) and knew that the only hope was to vote for real change. Even a lot of white bigots were at least smart enough to vote their own self-interest, or at least take a chance.

As I understand it at this time, the Democrats did not get the complete 60 votes needed in the Senate to be filibuster-proof. But I think that is a good thing. There needs to be checks and balances.

And I truly believe that those who sincerely worried that Obama would bring about complete or near complete socialism can rest assured that he will do nothing of the kind. I think that they may be pleased to find that he will be more of a centrist – strangely more like his vanquished challenger John McCain than not. Obama is careful and pragmatic. But yes, die-hard capitalists, he will lean to the left to help the majority of us to the extent that he sees fit.

And to you Republicans who are still worried, remember this: the nation survived the Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected to four terms, and even won a world war in the process. Surely we will survive a little real change. And I truly believe that the Republican Party is going to rise back from this stronger than ever and hopefully with a slightly more open-minded and more inclusive persona. No I don’t want the GOP to become Democrats. I want them to be the loyal opposition, but one that does not take such a narrow path. There are going to be problems, big problems, for Obama and plenty of openings for that loyal opposition to make their case that there is a different way to approach things. And I guess that I am going on with too many words, but I think that the GOP may have finally been freed from the shackles of dangerously hard-right conservatism and worse yet neocon conservatism.

Neocon conservatism is a hard one to understand, but in short, from what I have read, it was instituted primarily by progressives or liberals who were more interested in power than ideology, so they renamed themselves conservatives and have wrought major damage to our political system, with their winner-take-all no-compromise and often hate-inspired (have you ever listened to Rush Limberger?) approach.