Saturday, October 18, 2008
Cracked Out On Hope?
Unless Barack Obama starts clubbing baby seals between now and November, it looks like he's on his way to the White House. I'm not sure what McCain can do to win swing voters at this point, short of leaving bags of gold doubloons on their doorsteps.
I'm happy about that, obviously. I'm a liberal-leaning moderate who thinks the leader of the free world should be compassionate, level-headed and much (much) smarter than I am, so Obama's easy to love. I'm also black, so I'm not going to deny how much his victory would mean to me and my family. My daughter has toy telephone conversations with him, and my son thinks he's "cool." My husband derives great pleasure from watching McCain seethe at having to take Obama seriously.
That being said, can we dial down the Messianic expectations? As much as I dig Obama's narrative and the Hope theme ... well, he's a politician. I wouldn't be voting for him if I didn't think his intentions were honorable, but he's a politician. I was a journalist for too long not to be skeptical. Not cynical, but skeptical. He can't do much without the buy-in of Congress, and George W. Bush has all but burned the place down. I think the most important thing his presidency will do is to help undo our reputation as Crackheads of the Universe. But he is not, as one Web site put it, a walking healing crystal.
My Facebook friend A. got me thinking about this. A., a staunch Hillary supporter, loathes - I mean loathes - Obama. A card-carrying member of the East Coast Media Elite, A. sees Obama as a politcal Kim Kardashian on whom the entire nation has a nauseating crush. He says we are drunk on the snake oil of Hope. A. is also upset that some of his friends might interpret his disdain as racism, especially since even conservatives like David Brooks want to be Obama's BFF.
It should go without saying that disliking Obama (or any person of color) doesn't make one a Klan member. There are a lot of black people I don't like. While I strongly disagree with A.'s assessment, I think he does have a point about the danger of focusing all our hopes and dreams for a colorblind, progressive society on one man. His election would (will?) be one for the history books, and I plan to celebrate (Obama-cue!). It's astounding to me that some people apparently have never seen a family like the Obamas, but I'm happy that they are serving to crush stereotypes.
But assuming that he wins, Obama has a lot of work ahead of him. There will be potholes and snafus along the way, as there are with any president. I don't expect miracles, just responsible leadership that involves Sarah Palin in no way, shape or form.
A. is young, so maybe he's seeing more starry-eyed followers than I am. Most of my friends who are supporting Obama are doing so with their eyes open. Our political Tiger Beat days ended when Bill Clinton left office. We've got Hope, but we know when to say when.