Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After

Hi, it's me, your long-missing founder and crank-in-chief.

We haven't really talked about politics here, and for good reason. This is a trite diversion devoted to meta-commentary about a single web comic. But I've been living and dying with the American election for the past few months, and now that it's over, I realize I simply haven't had any room in my brain for anything but hope. Hope that intelligence would overcome pandering, hope that broad ideas would overcome single issues, hope even that hope itself would defeat fear. And it has.

If you're not an American, you probably can't understand what last night meant to many of us.

At first glance it seems like we have overcome the last eight years of inept governance, an impressive feat in and of itself. But in truth it's bigger than that. For almost a generation, American politics have been run by ideologues -- decisions on who to vote for and what issues to talk about have been made based on personality and narrow interests, meaning more and more that the whole point of being in office was to maintain the power, rather than actually use that power.

The Republican party, long the home of social and fiscal conservatives, finally painted itself into a corner. Through extreme incompetence, and (ironically) by both adhering to and straying from their fiscal ideals, they finally managed to thoroughly trash the economy so badly that they've alienated even the conservatives in America. And that is no small feat.

I laughed at today's strip. Being a Bloom County fan from way back (wayyy back) I immediately recognized it, and I appreciated the effort.

Being an American for the past 10 years has felt a little like being in the Meadow Party -- not that I'd compare Al Gore or John Kerry to Bill the Cat, but we have struggled for so long, not understanding why our message didn't get out, playing against opponents who far out-weighed us and were willing to use any trick in the book to defeat us.

I have no illusions that our next president is not a politician, with many of the things that that implies, but the nature of his campaign, the nature of his supporters, his own unflappable temperament and nature tells me that we have turned a big corner.

I have heard it said that wealth is still a divisive issue in European politics. For whatever reason, Americans have overcome that for the most part -- we fancy ourselves a classless society. What we have instead is a less-logical fear of intelligence and a fear of "elite" which is not the same as "elitist."

Our new President-Elect is intelligent, hard-working, intellectually curious, charismatic, and seems to truly care about us and the job that has just landed on his shoulders.

He has a big job ahead of him, an amazingly big job, but he is exactly the kind of person we need working for us.

Thus endeth the election.


Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

. . . so what you are saying is that you support Obama?
I keeeed :)

I agree with you whole-heartedly FSM. i, like many people, was introduced to Barack Obama on a national state in 2004 when a scrawny african-American with a funny name took the stage. I was watching the DNC that year planning to hear the usual speeches and really awsn't excited because Kerry's main mantra was "I'm not Bush" which is a thrilling platform (sarcasm sarcsm) When Sen Obama spoke I actually remember looking up because his speech was actually something DIFFERENT, with conviction not just fake anger, and a cool temperment.

With this election I was actually glad that John McCain won the Republican nomination because he was a man I did respect and did not fully go with one party, which I respect. However, once the election started to go the wrong way either McCain ordered, or lost control of, his campaign and the worst of American politics came out. They played on fears and did not try to WIN a vote with what they would do. Words like muslim, socialist, terroist, marxist, "kill him", Ayers, Wright, Khalidi were used to make people pause make them go against their guy and their brains because Obama is something new. I am ashamed because McCain fell victim to the same tactics in 2000 and even though I believe he is a better man, when it became convenient he used those tactics for himself.

I am proud today, not because I have a vested interest like African-American's do, but because sense and logic overcame today despite the best efforts to squash that with the campaign.

I in my 26 years have never felt a sense of wanting to be part of something other than a sports teams fan base and it feels good and I myself want to joint with this feeling of service. I hope Sen Obama does not fall trap to "politics as usual" and uses his momentum to inspire like Kennedy and Reagan did in the last 50 years.

Also, Republicans, I believe you are not evil (i know im shocked too) this prove that Karl Roves political tactics have grown stale at this point and if you find someone that can inspire a large base (shudder Palin shudder) you can actually have an election that conservatives AND moderates can be proud of.

R.W.McGee said...

Today is a great day, for our country, and I hope for the world. I don't think anything could make me sad today!

Also, McCain was a class act in defeat, and I think his service and honor should not be forgotten as we laud the victor. Two very worthy candidates; and I think America made a difficult but correct choice.

What a great country.

(although, I'd like to know what they are smoking in Alaska. First Palin, and then they re-elect a convicted felon?? The hell?)

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

@ RW
Well they're not part of this country, at least Palin's husband want Alaska to be independant from the US.

It must be the cold weather that makes you go loopy.

rdy said...

"If you're not an American, you probably can't understand what last night meant to many of us."Are you crazy? We see (and feel) the effects of the unholy mess your previous government made of things in Iraq and watch intently to see whether you'd vote in Bush 2.0 (or should that be 3.0?)... one with the added benefit that he may drop dead at any second and be replaced by some other gun-happy ditz.

Things might be tough all over and for a while to come but some people in the rest of the world breathed a little sigh of relief seeing the right man get the job for once.

R.W.McGee said...

lol, Sage. Could be, might explain how Bachmann got re-elected in Minnesota.

TheOriginalJes said...

I'm truly elated that Barrack Obama won. And, I really underestimated our nation. I believed he would have lost based solely on last-minute prejudice and ignorance. I've never been happier to be wrong.

I don't envy his position. He's one of very few President-elects to be the first of anything. This increases his burden 1000 times. More than any other man on earth, it is incumbent upon him NOT to screw up (as, I'm sure, he knows).

So many of us watched since 2000, as a Republican franchise in the Oval Office and Congress went unopposed in it's rampant disregard for domestic security and prosperity. It took six years for the Democratic party to get a foothold in Congress, and now they run the show. I hope that they maintain a greater sense of responsibility with that kind of power.

And, I agree with Sage about McCain showing some class in the end. Not that I saw him with much of a choice. But his more vocal following should have followed suite. McCain's campaign had been more derisive than progressive in the final weeks. And his audience had a hard time letting go of that.

Maj. English said...

As an American citizen living abroad, I have to say that I watched last night's election with an interesting mix of hope and dread. Would I have to internally cringe every time I introduce myself as an American for the next 4 years? Or might things be different this time?

This morning, as I went about my daily routine, I met people who identified me as an American and proceeded to both congratulate and thank me and by extension my country for making the right choice.

After hearing many similar experiences from countries all over the world, I hope that the American people begin to realize that, while American Elections should stay purely American, the impact of those elections goes far beyond your voting booth, past your county, your state, and even past our nation's borders.

Indeed, the choices we make as Americans have the power to affect the entire planet. This is a serious and weighty responsibility, one that should be approached with understanding and dignity, two things I felt were distinctly lacking in Sen. McCain's campaign efforts. The choices that we make are simply too important to make based on fear, intimidation, a narrow view of the world or even religious values.

I hope that in coming elections, the American people will strive to become more educated about local and global politics, about international affairs and people who do not necessarily fit into their own personal sphere of influence. As we live in a democracy, our government must answer to the will of its people, which makes each one of us (who exercised our right to vote) leaders. And as we all know, uninformed or misinformed leaders can only make the wrong choices.

And as an aside, welcome back FSM!

Ben said...

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them".
Thomas Jefferson

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not".
Thomas Jefferson

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical".
Thomas Jefferson

"Property is the fruit of is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built".
Abraham Lincoln

"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic".
Benjamin Franklin

I realize that the last administration did a lot of things wrong. But, I have conservative principles based on hard work, faith (sanctity of life and marriage), etc. I get up 4-5am and work late into the night to support my family. I am truly disheartened by what America has become if Obama is the answer everyone was looking for. I am sure he is a great guy, but I disagree with so much of what he stands for.

McCain is not who I supported in the primary, but he could have built a stronger, safer America.

Enjoy my money I guess. I'll be here working to pay off the mess Clinton started by pushing Fannie and Freddie to extend loans to those who didn't qualify.

TheOriginalJes said...

@ ben

Clinton has been out of office since 2000. Yet Bush has had no problem with the American people spending money they didn't have on things like "No Bid Contracts".

And the only time he ever spoke about stemming illegal immigration was when he needed a distraction from Iraq.

"Mission Accomplished"

R.W.McGee said...

Jefferson was an obstructionist idiot, it's Alexander Hamilton who figured out how to set up the Federal government which saw America through 200+ years of history.

Also, today's PvP leads me to believe that somebody is teaching Kurtz chess? Maybe?

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

@ Ben
Well god bless you if you work that hard and make over $200,000 because thats the only way we'll be here to "enjoy [your] money" because that was one of Obama's biggest promises. You will pay less taxes. Also, he will be governing from center/center-left because of what he has written and he knows he can't go too liberal in this current situation in American. Plus he is human (gasp! i know) and he knows if he goes too far left he loses a fair part of his base (moderate dems/moderate republicans).

I love conservatives talking about McCain as their savior. His history is that of a moderate republican and Palin was a centrist governor who "turned" conservative to rally the base. He would have governed from center/center-right not the lovely conservative regime that people wanted.

Bush supported deregulation of the financial system so the current situation started with the Clinton's wanting to make it easier to buy homes (yes that started the trend of sub-prime loans) but was exacerbated by the lack of oversight created by the "free-market" principles put into place over the last 8 years (wow it can only be democrats that do bad things to you huh?)

Finally, how is the sanctity of life and marriage threatened? I do not believe Obama is a radical pro-choice president (and won't show that for the first 4 years anyway; see above) and will have as much impact as Bush did moving the country back to pro-life principles (ie not very much). Also with marriage, obama has said he will not support same-sex marriage as it is between a man and a woman, feel better now?

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