Nov 5: Post Election Day thoughts

The seemingly interminable Presidential campaign has at last been terminated. Barack Obama will be our next president. With the day upon us, my wife and I breathed a collective sigh of relief. The relief only grew as drew on and the final results came in.

I was impressed by McCain’s concession speech. While it included many obligatory lines, I felt McCain made some very genuine, gracious statements. They recalled the man whom I admired in the 2000 campaign, for whom I voted in the primaries in 1999, and who has been absent far too often in the intervening years. I’m glad to have sighted him again. Hopefully he will reemerge in the new Senate.

I was rather confident that Obama would win this election, and I’m grateful that my confidence was not misplaced. I chose to vote for Nader as the best possible choice. But while I believe McCain would have been an improvement over the current administration (his choice for Vice President notwithstanding), Obama is the mainstream candidate under whom I have the most hope for a more progressive direction to our government.

Race is no reason to elect a President, but last night race certainly was a reason to celebrate a President. The ugly stains of bigotry were still dark and widespread in the fabric of our country not so long ago (it is within my lifetime that the LDS Church finally surrendered its own racist policies). Nor has racism been expunged from the republic. Yet this election is an enormous symbolic step for blacks and other minorities. We should relish that step and the jubilation of our minority sisters and brothers who feel empowered, inspired, and validated by this moment.

Obama’s acceptance speech was brilliant. I was moved by the humility, by the solemn tone, by the broader perspective of the task ahead. Of course, being a marvelous speaker does not make one a great president. I’ve been somewhat skeptical of the number of Obamaniacs who seem smitten solely based on his oratorical skills. Obama obviously has intelligence and incredible poise, but only time will tell whether he has the virtue, wisdom, and the fortitude to be a truly great president. We will see whether he has the character to bring people together to change course, or whether “Change” was merely a cynical political slogan. We will learn if he can make the honest political compromises necessary in government without being compromised.

But no matter how Obama turns out, we should take inspiration from his beautiful address last night. The focus of the speech was not “Yes I will,” but “Yes we can.” No matter how magnificent a president he may turn out to be, he cannot solve all of our problems. His wisecracks at the recent charity dinner aside, Obama is not Superman. Conversely, no matter how inept or unprincipled he might reveal himself to be, we are neither powerless nor incapable of reforming our nation from the grassroots up. As Obama pointed out, this nation has made remarkable steps towards overcoming its flaws—not without stumbles and serious deviations from time to time; but improvement nonetheless. That progress, slow as it may be, has only occurred through the determined effort of people throughout society.

In this period in which we face many serious challenges, we can and must harness the energy catalyzed by the Obama campaign before it fizzles out. We can mobilize the youth who supported Obama in such numbers to continue to follow the liberal impulses which drew them in. We can recognize that, despite what Palin and those of her persuasion believe, community activism and organizing are noble and meaningful pursuits. We can put aside the self-interest which has played such a dominant part of the nation’s ideology to instead focus on sustaining the community; looking to care for the earth which supports us all, as well as for the needy, the downtrodden, and “the least of these.”

Yes we can.

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21 Responses to “Nov 5: Post Election Day thoughts”

  1. Brian Says:

    I am so glad this election is over, even though the result is not what I would have preferred. I was getting pretty tired of the politics of both sides.

    Obama did give a good speech. I have had the feeling he says what he needs to in order to get elected. I noticed a change in his posture between the primary and general elections. I am not picking on him, I think most politicians change. I am very interested to see what he does with the democrats having control of the house, the senate and the white house.

    By the way, I know you have concerns about one party control in Utah. Does that same concern carry over to Washington? Just wondering. It will be an interesting few years.

  2. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I do not have a problem with a single-party monopoly in theory. The problem is when that party in control uses it’s power abusively, as the Utah Republican party does, and when that party’s agenda is morally suspect, as is the agenda of the Republican party.

    I would certainly be concerned if any party were to establish the same sort of abusive monopoly in Washington, even if it promoted a moral agenda. Whether the national Democratic party is able to establish a monopoly (the presidency and a simple majority in Congress itself does not qualify as a monopoly), uses its power abusively, or promotes a moral agenda are all still in question.

  3. alliegator Says:

    One of my first thought when I saw how the national elections went was, “I hope a one party system on the federal level doesn’t work out like the one party system on the state level…

    I think people get excited over Obama’s speeches because it’s like a breath of clean air, after breathing the landfill that drifted by whenever GWB opened his mouth.

    I’m hopefull. I hope Obama lives up to his ideals. He’s made people hope that life can be better, and that we can do better. I too hope that it wasn’t campaign rhetoric.

  4. Thom Says:

    Obama is just the catalyst. *We* are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Cheesy campaign rhetoric? You bet. True? That, too.

  5. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I did not vote for Obama, but believe he has a major upside and take comfort that at least the nation is doing something for much-needed change. The Republicans have earned every last bit of this loss, and I hope it causes some soul-searching. Once the GOP abandoned the high ground it once held on fiscal responsibility, I felt there was a strong chance that the party would experience a change as drastic as what happened to the Dems in the 60s with the counterculture. As you’ve pointed out before, conservative really isn’t conservative any more, and I feel like a man without representation. I simply can’t identify with a lot of the things you and the far left say. But I am estranged from the conservative base too. At any rate, I will give President Obama a clean slate and pray that others will try to help him succeed rather than tear him down, and pray that he governs wisely.

  6. Race is no reason to elect a President…. « News Pirates Says:

    […] by John Hummel on November 6, 2008 I love this comment by Liberal Mormon: Race is no reason to elect a President, but last night race certainly was a reason to celebrate a […]

  7. Jennifer Says:

    I celebrated Obama’s election and see it as reviving a democracy whose vital signs haven’t been convincing in recent years. I am also praying for wisdom, insight and safety for him and his advisers. They’ll need it.

    For people who say he cannot accomplish what he has promised, I say that even if he accomplishes 30% of what he said, we’ll still be much better off and more people will feel ownership in the democratic process.

  8. Stacy Says:

    Amen to that, Jennifer. Obama is human, he recognizes that. My hope now is that the 62 million people that voted for him will give him a chance, give everyone a chance to fix things and know that it won’t be over night. The other millions are bunkering down to jump on his mistakes first chance they get. I wish they’d all see how detrimental that is to correcting our current state. Divided we’ll fail.

  9. Thom Says:

    As an aside, I, too, love your quote about race being a reason to celebrate, but not to vote. I have to say, though, that the more I’ve thought about it, the more I feel like race–or at least, racial experience–is a valid reason to support a candidate. Not the strongest reason, certainly, but one of many valid reasons. This opinion is still evolving, but it will appear in my “5 reasons I voted for Barack Obama” post that will eventually appear at http://sensibleprogressive.wordpress.com/ .

  10. D. Sirmize Says:

    Derek, I appreciate the sensibility you’ve shown throughout the campaign regarding Obama. You weren’t swept up with the fad, and even though I disagree with most everything you’ve ever written, this earns you some respect.

    A thought about the whole “change” thing: Rahm Emmanuel, former partisan-as-hell Clinton hack and former director of Freddie Mac- change? More like reversion.

    Now I have to make a personal decision: Do I support my new president and give him the benefit of the doubt, or do I treat him like the Left treated Bush from day one?

    Why shouldn’t I choose the latter?

  11. Brian Says:

    I already have suspicions about his character. It appears that Mr. Obama has already removed what little information he had about the second amendment from his website. Why would he do that?

    I must agree with D. Sirmize’s last point also. Again, it will be an interesting few years.

  12. D. Sirmize Says:

    Stacy:

    “The other millions are bunkering down to jump on his mistakes first chance they get. I wish they’d all see how detrimental that is to correcting our current state. Divided we’ll fail.”

    And I’m sure this was exactly your attitude in 2000 and 2004.

  13. Brian Says:

    I need to revise my previous post. After more searching I found where his substance lacking position was moved to.

  14. Derek Staffanson Says:

    D and Brian, it would be rather myopic to complain about or justify obstructionism based on the Democratic reaction to 2000 and 2004. Or have you forgotten the Republican reaction to 1992 and 1996? I remember Republicans on the local and national scene immediately digging in against Clinton–even after he proved in his first term to be moderate and almost as corporatist as the Republicans. While I was too young to see it, I’m sure the same things happened with the opposition to Reagan, to Carter, and before my birth, to Nixon, to Kennedy…Partisanship has a long history on all sides. The question is, are we so infantile as to nurse it? Or, in this troubled time, do we aspire to something better, and give this candidate who campaigned largely on moderation and change a chance to prove himself?

    BTW, I do recall a number of we liberals (myself being one) who were mildly hopeful for Bush after his 2000 campaign on unification and compassionate conservatism. It was because he began to be divisive, vindictive, and to aggressively pursue a pretty radical corporatist, theocon, neocon agenda that we quickly rose in protest.

    I agree that the choice of Emmanuel is not a good sign. We’ll see.

  15. Jason Says:

    LDS church policies racist??? Wow, been a while since I heard that one…Then again, you are a liberal.

  16. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Jason, are you suggesting that the denial of the Priesthood (and de facto membership) to people of African descent, claiming that their pigmentation was the “mark of Cain,” or that they were pre-mortal “fence-sitters” was not racist?

  17. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Amen to what you have said about the need to support Obama. We are going to get nowhere by asking who started it (although you are being a little childish too by spouting out all of Bush’s misdeeds that “forced” you to hate his administration… I’m sure there will be ample opportunity for conservatives to react to something in six months).

    I’m going to jump in on the whole priesthood thing, though. Are you saying the Church was just political maneuvering? There were very few in Jesus’ time who would have had eligibility to receive the priesthood… not saying I understand it, but are you saying that President Hinckley and others who were there and have talked at length, on record, about the revelation, are just full of crap and that it should have been a certain way all along? President McKay always referred to that as a policy, not a doctrine… it seems you are really going beyond your authority to say it’s all hogwash.

  18. Jason Says:

    No Derek, what I’m saying is if you are in fact a mormon, and are active, and actually believe in a living prophet, you are in fact calling God a racist. That is unless you don’t believe in revelation……Thank you for your comment Aaron. If you’ve ever read the statement released by President Kimball, or heard the testimonies of those present, you know it was a revelation. Unfortuantely for Derek he doesn’t understand that.

  19. Jennifer Says:

    The 2000 and 2004 elections were closer, and questionable on several counts, in several ways. This time we had a clear majority of popular votes and electoral votes to show a winner. To compare the reactions after the 3 elections is missing the point of whether people felt like they had a “free and fair election.”

  20. D. Sirmize Says:

    2000 was closer, but as it turns out not that controversial (being that all final recounts showed Bush a clear winner.) It was controversial to you because your candidate lost. And as much as you’d like to read some kind of GOP-Supreme Court conspiracy there, you can’t dismiss all the FL Democrat conspiracy. When the votes were tallied, Bush won. Period. Don’t try to make that your excuse for not supporting President Bush while preaching to me about supporting President Obama.

    2004 wasn’t close at all, nor was it the slightest bit controversial. Obama beat McCain by just about the same margin that Bush beat Kerry. Your argument would hold more water if you did a little homework before commenting.

  21. Ben Says:

    Sirmize, you’re quite mistaken. The popular vote in 2004 had Bush ahead by 3 million. Obama beat McCain by 8 million. Gore won the popular vote by a slim margin. In terms of electoral votes, Bush beat Gore by 5 electoral votes and Kerry by 35 electoral votes, but Obama beat McCain by 203 electoral votes. That’s a huge difference.

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