Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama - President Elect

Months ago I indicated support for Barack Obama as a potential vehicle for change. That was back when he was fighting off a sustained challenge from Hillary Clinton and before he chose Joseph Biden as his running mate. His confirmation as the Democratic candidate pleased me, but the selection of Biden didn't. Biden is definitely "old school" and not one I can trust. I would not suggest he will be a puppeteer like Dick Cheney, possible the most vile VP in history, but even so, Biden is not "change".

I am not euphoric about the result (as you can probably tell) mainly because I know the real power in America is not necessarily the White House but Congress. The Democrats will have a strong grip on both Senate and House of Representatives and together with a Democratic president this could spell legislative disaster. Rubber stamps simply don't work in politics - it's as though legislation is pushed through without any common sense thinking behind it. To whit, the early Blair years in the UK, serving up huge plates of flawed legislation that is then "spun" into action. The early Bush years were likewise calamitous, leading us to overkill in the War on Terror, thus handing a measure of victory to the terrorists who have been marginalized.

The ideal US Government is one that has a balance of power between the two parties. Call this a "stand off" if you want but the truth is the rest of the country seems able to get on with its life just as well without too much action in Washington. Some would say it actually does better. I wonder if there is indeed a historic correlation between political stalemate in Washington and economic good times?

So, congratulations to Obama for being elected. But now come the truly difficult challenges of

Waking up to the economic realities of a recession now that the election is over

Selecting a cabinet in the next 77 days that will represent what the voters expected

Moving from behind the rhetoric of good oratory to actually running the country

I wish him and his family well.