Election (11/5/08)

Some things I’ve learned and some things to remember about the 2008 Presidential election:

#1: Barack Obama is not God.

Yes, what he did is truly historic. Yes, his rise to power will someday make a powerful film. Yes, African-Americans are right to weep with joy. And yes, I voted for him in the primary election and the general election.

But this man cannot do what a lot of people expect. There are a LOT of problems with our country right now. The wars, the economy, the health care system, the energy crisis, the deficit, infrastructure, etc. Obama won’t be able to tackle all of them. In fact, we’re lucky if he can even put a dent in the problem. In four years, we’ll still have troops in the middle east, and we’ll still be in the midst of a recession. Seeing as he won’t be able to run an election on a “change” mantra in 2012, if Republicans are able to find a viable candidate (yes, it is a long shot), he may have trouble being reelected. I’m reminded of the mantra Reagan ran with in 1980: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” There’s a pretty good chance we won’t be.

#2: Barack Obama is not the antichrist.

Yes, he’s slightly inexperienced in Washington. So was Clinton, and so was Kennedy. They did pretty well. So was Reagan (who did well from a Republican perspective) and W. But to be perfectly honest, no one knows exactly what he’s going to do for the next four years. It’s all conjecture. So anyone threatening to move to Canada or waiting for him to “screw up” is a bit much. But what can I point to more than anything else? A lot of people voted for him. Obama had 52.3% of the popular vote… the highest percentage in 20 years. Just because your guy (whether it be McCain, Hillary or Ron Paul) lost, doesn’t mean anyone who didn’t vote for them is an idiot.

#3 The primary season is WAAAAY TOO LOONG!!

No other country on earth has presidential elections that span the course of two years. Plus, if things continue like they did this election season, states will be voting in the primary elections in 2011, almost a year in advance of the general election. That is just plain ridiculous. I recall Tony Blair saying in an interview that it takes four months in Great Britain. That seems reasonable. Two years is just plain too long.

What we need to do is federalize the system. No more states leapfrogging one another trying to get all the media attention. Screw the tradition of Iowa and New Hampshire. If we can have a general election for President on one day in November, we can have a primary election in one day in June or July.

#4 Pork is here to stay.

One of John McCain’s signatures was his saying he will “veto any pork-barrel bill” and “you will know their names.” As nice an idea as that is, it became strikingly evident that that will never happen.

I’ll call your attention to the bailout bill that was passed a month or so ago. As most of you know, the first version of the bill failed in the House of Representatives. They had to amend the bill in order to get it passed. What was the difference? Pork. Without incentives for certain constituencies, the bill would never have passed. Congressmen need to be given incentives to vote for various projects. If it weren’t for pork, Congress would accomplish very little.

I’ll also call your attention to the Senatorial race in Alaska, where Ted Stevens (as of right now) holds a slight lead. The same Ted Stevens who called the Internet “a series of tubes.” The same Ted Stevens who was convicted of seven counts of felony a week ago. Why is he leading in the polls? Because he’s the most effective Senator in procuring pork-barrel projects for his state. It may not matter to the rest of the 49 states, but it matters to Alaskans, and that’s who votes for him.