As near as I can figure it, the final Electoral College vote will be 364 Obama and 174 McCain. This assumes Obama has won North Carolina and McCain has won Missouri. The popular vote is 52 percent Obama, 46 percent McCain, 1 percent Nader. This seems fairly decisive to me.
Both of George W. Bush’s victories were razor-thin by comparison, yet he “governed” as if the will of the other half of the nation didn’t count. He was free to be as far Right as he wanted to be. Yet even before Tuesday’s election, “pundits” were warning not-yet-president-elect Obama not to move too far to the Left once he is in the White House. Because that’s, you know, bad.
If you look at the spectrum of political opinion of the planet, of the entire human species, you see that politics in America stays within a very narrow range. In recent years the pendulum has swing about as far to the Right as it has ever swung, and now it’s correcting, but I don’t see the pendulum swinging outside its historical range. Nothing either Obama or the Democrats propose comes anywhere close to true Socialism. I doubt President Obama will change the course of the nation as much or as abruptly as FDR did, although I wish he would.
That said, in spite of this resounding victory, the Right is going to fight everything Obama tries to do, tooth and nail. And they have lots of money, and have countless media outlets, and they have many allies in Washington. The Right will struggle to preserve everything George W. Bush did in office, even as they blame him for their failures. They will pull out every stop they can pull to override Obama’s efforts at reform.
If We, the People, are going to get the government we want, we must remain engaged in the governing process. Remember, the government has legitimacy only by our consent. It’s true that sometimes our governmental leaders recognize that the right thing to do is not the popular thing to do, and act against the popular will. But on the whole, if the government has become utterly unresponsive to the will of the people about anything, then that’s our own fault.
Politics isn’t something that happens only every other November. It is enormously important to pay attention to what the President and Congress are doing the rest of the time, too, and to speak out about it. And after the January inauguration, it will be important to make a continual show of support for reform.
Otherwise, the message voters sent to politicians yesterday could be ignored, and nothing will change.
I’m not saying we all have to be in knee-jerk agreement with everything President Obama does. If he is doing something you don’t like, speak out about that, too. But as reform initiatives are discussed in media and among your acquaintances, and as measures come up for votes in Congress, make your opinions as public as you can make them. Write your senators and representative. Write letters to the editor. Call in to talk radio programs. Send emails to people you know. Speak up whenever you have an opportunity.
In other words, demand that the government becomes responsive to us. That’s what it’s bleeping for.
If the President and senators and congress critters know what the public expects of them, and also know there are lots of voters who support change in spite of what the entrenched punditocracy says, then change is a whole lot more likely to happen. Electing Obama was just a start.