President Obama – Senator Barack Obama Takes White House November 4, 2008Posted by Adam Nowland in Election 2008, Politics, President Bush, President Obama, U.S. Government.
Tags: Barack Obama, Election, Joe Biden, John McCain, President Obama, Vice-President Biden
To the exuberant celebration of Democrats and liberals across the United States, and to the dismay of conservatives around the country, Senator Barack Obama (D – Illinois), the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, swept into power November 4th, defeating his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain (R – Arizona). As polls around the country closed Tuesday evening, the major news networks wasted no time declaring state after state for Obama and his running mate, Senator Joe Biden (D – Delaware). Preliminary data indicated that President-elect Obama would have no problem reaching the number of electoral votes required to seal his victory, a result which likely surprised very few of the pundits and analysts deciphering polls and results.
After eight tumultuous years under the administration of President George W. Bush, many Americans were ready for a new direction, and eagerly snapped up Obama’s campaign slogan “Change We Can Believe In,” hoping that electing a liberal Democrat would help stem the tide of anti-American sentiment sweeping the globe and help solve a myriad of other problems ravaging the country. Bush’s administration oversaw two seemingly endless and unpopular wars in Asia, watched as the global economy entered its worst struggle in years, and angered many millions of people around the globe by taking what was regarded as a unilateral approach in American foreign policy, taking significant action in other parts of the globe without seeking the consultation or assistance of other nations.
The result was a President with the lowest approval rating of his time in office, and indeed one of the worst approval ratings of any recent Commander-in-Chief. Similarly, the U.S. Congress has been saddled with an approval rating of barely half of that of the President, shocking when one considers the unpopularity of President Bush, and even more shocking when one remembers that it is controlled not by the Republicans, but Democrats. Even the most casual observer of the American government can conclude that voters are fed up with the way the government is being run. Regardless of one’s views of the effectiveness of the current administration and Congress, it is clear that those men and women entering office in 2009 face substantial, if not overwhelming, challenges.
Indeed, it is a significant show of faith on the part of voters to elect a President who has yet to complete even a single term of office as a senator, and one who brings a considerable lack of experience as well as tremendous expectations with him to the Oval Office. Obama holds the distinction of becoming the first African-American to ever hold the country’s highest office, a major step forwards for minorities in the United States, but he will be under close scrutiny from both those who voted for him and those who opposed him. Obama must demonstrate that he can effectively do the job of leading the world’s greatest nation, and prove that he was justifiably elected because of his abilities and not just because people saw his race as a chance to vote for something different. Obama is smart enough to put race behind him all together, but there are still enormous numbers of Americans who voted for him simply because he was black, or against him for the same reason. Each of those votes for or against was a form of racism in and of themselves, and Obama must rise above such a dangerous idea.
In addition to his achievement of being the first black man to be elected President, Obama will also have to face the challenging problems of the economy, the national deficit, America’s declining status in global policy-making and popularity, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, problems with the national health system, Social Security, and the all-encompassing “War on Terror.” Each of these problems is significant, and most cannot be controlled singularly from the White House. Obama has the support of a heavily Democratic Congress, which will enable him to accomplish a great deal for at least two years, if not more, but such power is also a curse. The President-elect will have no excuses if he cannot find solutions for many of these problems. In fact, Obama runs the risk of making some of these problems worse by tampering with plans that are already in the works. For example, then-Senator Obama strongly opposed the Iraq “surge” when more American troops were sent to the Middle East to help secure the new Iraqi government. Mr. Obama’s fears proved to be false when the surge was decidedly effective, but if he chooses to immediately draw down American forces to appease his electors upon taking office, the situation in the tentatively quiet region could again spiral out of control. Obama will need to tread cautiously, as American voters give their elected officials short leashes, and could very easily vote Mr. Obama out in four years if his proposed plans don’t create visible results.
President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of “change,” a tangible object or idea that Americans apparently desperately needed and wanted. Time will tell if Obama’s guarantees of something that breaks from “business as usual” in Washington are true, or if his words are just another fantasy in the land of fairy tales. Obama faces a difficult road ahead, and the margin of his victory and the amount of support he has as he takes office will only add to his struggles if he fails to produce. The American voters have spoken, and they have marched to the byword of “change.” Let us as citizens hope that this change isn’t just believable, but that it truly is necessary – and effective – as well.