So, do you want to know what keeps me up at night over the prospect of an Obama win? Do you want to know why, despite being an ardent supporter of his, I have a secret fear of the non-failure of his campaign. If you do not want to know, stop reading now, cause here it comes.
I am not certain that many Americans, democratic Americans that is, on the heals of 8 years of George. W. Bush can handle the relative insignificance in the gap between President Bush and would be President Obama. Yep… I said it. The gap will not be that big, and I fear that is going to emotionally crush a lot of people. I am terrified that many are going to be banking on major, significant, and meaningful change and while they will probably get exactly that, it is not going to measure up to their expectations.
For the past 8 years the Bush White House has appeared to exist in a vacuum, devoid of reason and thought that has any semblance of intelligence. It appears in, the eyes of the left (parts of the right have come around to this way of thinking as well), that every thing the man touches turns to… well, not-gold. Obama offers the hope of a new leader, one more in touch with the people, one with an â€œenlightenedâ€ sense of right and wrong, one who will deliver the promise of everything this nation is supposed to be.
Friends… this is not going to happen. At least not the way many think it is. Obama is not going to take a neutral stance in the Middle East, he is going to continue the United States rock solid relationship with Israel. Obama is not going to make abortion legal in every city, county, and state in the union, he is at best going to uphold Roe and leave things up to the states. Obama is not going to provide free medical care to anyone who needs it, he is not even going to mandate insurance except for coverage for children. Obama is not, and Obama cannot bring about utopia (especially in a position limited to a maximum of 8 years).
Obama is a good and required first step toward what we want this country to be. He is not the answer, and he is not the great reformer, nor he should not attempt to be these things. Over the years he will be called â€œgrayâ€ because he does not appear to support black causes as much as black folks think he should. He will be called moderate (in the least flattering sense of the word) by those who think he does not do enough for the environment, or gender equality. He will be called a lot of things, by a lot of people… many of whom were his staunchest supporters during his campaign.
In many ways, Obama is not going to look all that much different than the presidents that came before him (including Bush). And this scares me. It scares me because I see many of my friends and co-idealists not being able to reconcile what his presidency may become with what they expected it to be. It scares me because I fear this disconnect will lead to disillusionment. It scares me because I fear this disillusionment may evolve into nihilism. It terrifies me because I fear this nihilism will result in another Bush in the White House.
There is little that is more debilitating to a cause than a failed set of expectations. Obama could be the best thing to happen to this country in, perhaps, hundreds of years… and, I have this little secret fear that without a fantastic job if setting expectations ahead of time, he could also be the worst…