Monday, October 13, 2008

Great Expectations: An Obama Presidency

Election Day is upon us. (For those of us in Nevada, early voting began last weekend.) Like many Americans, I am thoroughly fed up with the presidential campaign. The tactics, mostly from the McCain camp in my view, have been ugly and unbecoming.

I've watched as Senator John McCain and Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, have made derogatory remarks about Obama's capabilities and readiness to govern America. They've wrapped themselves in the American flag, thereby, making it appear that Republicans have the market on patriotism. (At one venue, the crowd, following Palin's lead, chanted, "America, America, America.") What's that all about? Is the implication that Obama is anti-American?

There've been accusations that an Obama presidency would threaten American "values," capitalism, the economic status quo, and, in general, the accepted order of things. Well, let's hope so! What foreign policy credentials did Dubya have when he took office? What political experience did Arnold Schwarzenegger bring to the position of governor of California? Jesse "The Body" Ventura, former pro-wrestler and governor of Minnesota, had just four-years experience as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

What training is there for the American presidency? With much of the world enduring economic recessions (while experts disagree on the causes) and volatile political conditions existing in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, who can predict where the winds of crisis will blow next? Not McCain. Not Obama. The Presidency is not a one-man show. Decisions are arrived at after input from the Cabinet, Congress, special interests, and the public. Presidents rely on the expertise of close advisors as well as myriad federal agencies--from the CIA to the NSA.

So, Obama-haters, give us a break. It's ridiculous to suggest that his presidency will bring about radical or fundamental changes in the way government is run. At best, he will use his influence as The Chief to promote legislation or initiatives--from healthcare reform to tax revisions--that foster the Democratic platform.

If anything, Obama will be closely scrutinized by all sides as The First in any position generally is. He must prove that he has the qualifications, judgment, and leadership ability to guide America though its financial crisis. Black Americans, white Americans, Republicans, Democrats, Congress, Wall Street, and various private and public entities all have different expectations of him. I'm sure he will disappoint some or all of them. That's the nature of politics.

As president, his life might even be in danger. But that's a possibility too awful to consider. Let's hope that if Obama is elected, our country will rally behind him and make America truly the land of free and the home of the brave.