Let the world change you... and you can change the world

The Nightmare Is Over (At Least For Awhile Anyway)

At last, our 8-year national nightmare is over. That’s certainly the good news. There’s absolutely no doubt that we as a nation are in for a much better ride for at least the next four years. We have good reason to celebrate. But once the jubilation dies down, we also need to take a sober look at just what happened here. Was this a massive rejection of the right-wing politics of racism, bigotry, plutocracy, and corporate socialism? As much as I would like to believe that, I’m not convinced. Hopefully the next four years will prove me wrong, and this is indeed the end of right-wing extremism and the Republican party as we know it. But I do have to wonder. When all is said and done, wasn’t this just one more election that was “all about the economy”? The reality (that old bugaboo) is that until the financial meltdown, this election was a toss-up and headed directly towards a repeat of 2000 and 2004. What ultimately flipped the election to Obama was when people started to realize just what a mess the economy was in, and how that was going to effect them personally.

It all harkens back to some 28 years ago, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter using the refrain “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” And that’s the only consistent theme that you ever see in American presidential politics. Reagan won that year because of the poor economy under Carter. And the Republicans maintained the White House for the next 12 years, until once again there was a downturn in the economy. Which allowed Bill Clinton to win. And now 12 years later, the economy is once again tanking and that’s what turned the election for Obama. See the pattern here? When the economy sours, the incumbent party is thrown out. It’s that simple.

Alas, I fear this election was nothing of a “sea change” that you are reading so much about. It was all about self-centeredness and greed. Money rules the day, and party is irrelevant. As is social justice and equality, democracy, the rule of law, making this world a better place for our children, and everything else that this election SHOULD have been about.

But enough of the pessimism. There’s no doubt that Obama does have some good ideas on these issues, some of which might even be termed “progressive”. So maybe he will get America at least back on track. But let’s not underestimate the damage that has been done over the last 28 years of Republican rule, particularly the last eight disastrous years. It’s going to be a long, hard road. And if the economy doesn’t turn quickly, we’ll be right back to where we were before you know it. Mark my words.