American Voters: Now That We Have Your Attention …

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Obama Administration

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.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. calling all toasters  •  Nov 5, 2008 @3:48 pm

    Is it OK if I have a nap first?

  2. maha  •  Nov 5, 2008 @3:51 pm

    I need a nap, too. I’m barely functioning today.

  3. Dan  •  Nov 5, 2008 @5:19 pm

    One quibble. It may sound pedantic, but George W Bush never attempted to govern. George W Bush saw himself as a ruler.

    As a result, as of 9/10/2001, he was the most unpopular President in our nation’s history, as near as anybody can figure out (polling only goes back so far).

    IMNSHO, there is a connection.

  4. btchakir  •  Nov 5, 2008 @5:38 pm

    The day has been one with few outside pressures from worrying about the election. I was happy going in to teach, coasted through my Graphic Design class, went grocery shopping and came home listening to call-in shows on the car radio. Everyone in Baltimore, the location of the NPR station I was listening to, was up and positive after the election. None of us will have to get busy until tomorrow… busy trying to get the country that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their trolls made a mess of back in order. It’s going to be a hard job.

    But today we are happy and even the Republicans I’ve heard calling in on the radio are positive and, in a sense, relieved.

    It looks like Obama has not only been elected, but has a real mandate for change. We are all going to have to support that change… help with spreading the opinions of the people and communicating the message from all involved in making change. This blog will be there. Honest.

    Under The LobsterScope

  5. Dan  •  Nov 5, 2008 @5:43 pm

    WOW!

    I just heard ANN COULTER say something nice about Bill Clinton on TV. Obama the Uniter!

  6. justme  •  Nov 5, 2008 @5:50 pm

    OOOHHHH MMMMMYYYYY GAAAAWD!!!!!!! Did anyone hear what nader said last night to shepard smith on faux news????? I happened to hear a clip of it on talk radio while stuck in the car and I was stunned …Our talk radio here is 99.9% GOP radio but even the hosts of the show were outraged by the comment. Nader asked , for those who did not here , if Obama would be uncle sam or a uncle …I can’t even say(write it out loud)…Speech , while certainly free, of that kind is more than I am even wired to repeat. Even Shepard Smith was upset by it..and tried to give nader a chance to take it back .

    I have never been a nader fan myself.. and this year it was nice to see he did not get the attention he wanted, but a comment like this has got to seal the coffin for him politically, even with whatever few supporters he has left. I fully expected what I call white sheet tactics both subtle and non from the GOP faithful, because one thing I have learned about that group is that they must find ways to cut others down in a attempt to feel greater themselves, but I didn’t expect such hate and venom from nader.’

    The man(nader) really really HATES the dems ..We never saw this bitterness as long as the GOP won the election. After hearing this display I am now certain without a doubt naders purpose was to see to it dems lost.. not to win himself . Last night he learned he failed and he was angry and bitter…I always knew he was a duck…but last night he quacked loud and clear.

    The good news is that there will be more naders spewing forth such comments in the years to come and those white Americans who have never known what it is to struggle with race will learn. I have a feeling Obama is going to be a very personal president for a great many people…someone that we adore and respect.. someone who’s words we cling to much the way Kennedy was.
    Did you notice the eyes in the crowd last night as the watched Obama speak? They sparkled with pride as if Obama was their own child up there on stage.Did you notice your own eyes doing the same thing? I admit, I sure did…I cried too! He is ours…:)

    Being that he is “ours” if you will, white America will get a much needed education about race while defending “our own” as the need arises when the naders of the world show white sheet tactics.People who never before understood will begin to see ..how friggin beautiful is that? This is going to move our country forward finally on the issues of race and that is soo exciting to me.

    I look forward to all the ways Obama’s win will move this country forward..not just his official job, but the un intended lessons this nation learns and grows from also..Ya know what I mean?

  7. ozonehole  •  Nov 5, 2008 @6:07 pm

    I’m glad to hear that Ann Coulter is being civil. However, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh this morning, and he was being as foul as ever. He suggested that Marxist America-hating Obama stole the election, and that Republicans should not give him even one day of respite. Limbaugh seems intent on pushing the line that liberals are subhuman, and that the country needs a civil war.

    I haven’t listened to any of the other AM radio hate pundits yet. I’m hoping that they’ll extend Obama an olive branch, but that’s probably too much to expect.

  8. moonbat  •  Nov 5, 2008 @6:30 pm

    This is all true, and Obama will have his hands full with his own ambitous agenda, and with the many barking dogs of the right, and with a seriously weakened country.

    That said, I think there are some strategic initiatives that, if successful, will go a long way toward squelching the right, and therefore strengthening his/our ability to move this country in a progressive direction, potentially for many election cycles to come.

    1) First is changing the laws that regulate media. We desperately need a better media in this country, a real competition of ideas. One way is to disallow the concentration of ownership that prevails today. We desperately need more competition in this space (something I thought righties were all for?).

    There are many other steps in this direction, such as reforming or abolishing the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates, which acts as a high bar to keep out third parties. Moving to a true multi party system with instant run off voting and proportional representation are to me, the end game of injecting new ideas and reviving our moribund democracy, but I’ll settle for media reform for now.

    2) Single Payer Universal Health Care. Sara Robinson wrote about this some days ago, but this to me is the next Killer App. By this I mean, if it were successful, it would change the public’s perception of government so radically that the right would be locked out of power for a long time to come. Think of how successful Social Security was in its day, and how it ensured decades of progressive rule.

    Single Payer is a very ambitious goal, given both the agenda and the mess Obama has to deal with. But we should not be afraid to talk it up, and to see its strategic value, and to explicitly aim for it. We won’t get it if we don’t fight for it.

  9. maha  •  Nov 5, 2008 @7:45 pm

    justme — it’s good to hear from you! I was thinking about you just the other day. I hope you are doing well.

    I was a fan of Ralph Nader back in the 1960s and 1970s. I don’t know if he’s changed or if I didn’t see him for what he was. He’s in serious need of an intervention. If he has any friends, they would be doing him (and everybody else) a big favor if they could persuade him to retire from public life and STFU.

    I think you are exactly right that the white Americans who voted for Obama see him as “ours,” and this is going to work a subtle change in how people perceive race. Interesting times.

  10. Bodhipaksa  •  Nov 5, 2008 @8:07 pm

    With luck the right will be so busy tearing each other to pieces that they won’t be able to function as an obstructive opposition. I’d rather they did get their act together and form a real opposition, because we need dissent and checks on power, but that’s unlikely to come about until the blood-letting is over.

    In the comments section of sites like lucianne.com (it’s a cesspit, I warn you) the hunt is on for a culprit to blame for McCain’s loss. One of the groups fingered is the moderate wing of the GOP — “Why would people vote for Dems-lite when they can have the real thing” (maybe because the people are actually moderate?) — among many, many others. So in the short term I think we can expect a dramatic lurch to the right, with Saint Sarah of Wasilla becoming a central figure, with a continued loss of public support, before the GOP emerges from the wilderness with some new, as-yet-unidentified leader.

    The Conservative Party in the UK took over a decade to get back to electability after a similar electoral wipe-out. By that time the Dems will be undone by the inevitable hubris that comes from being in power for more than one term of office, and we may actually welcome the change. It’s how things work in politics.

  11. Dan  •  Nov 6, 2008 @2:10 am

    Ann Coulter was being “civil” to Clinton only to indicate that she had a new target for her vituperance…

  12. btchakir  •  Nov 6, 2008 @9:04 am

    With 70 days left to go, is anyone watching Bush?

    George W. Bush has done so much to damage this country, it is a relief to have Obama elected.

    But 70 days is a long time… and Bush could still make the mess he created worse. What could he do with the military, say, by creating a shakeup with Iran? Or how could he make the financial crisis be worse?

    And Cheney… Cheney is still in place and he worries me more than Bush, primarily because we NEVER see what he is doing.

    One thing the blogs will do is stay as much on top of Bush as possible.

    I hope.

    Under The LobsterScope

  13. Lynne  •  Nov 6, 2008 @11:04 am

    I really fear how polarized this country has become. According to several news reports, some republicans are vowing revenge in various ways for not winning. How are we ever going to solve this country’s problems with this always in the background? It is ridiculous, absurd, and a little scary.

  14. btchakir  •  Nov 6, 2008 @11:26 am

    This disproves that Obama won because of the “Race” vote

    In an article entitled “For Pollsters, the Racial Effect That Wasn’t”, we find this information about exit polling in the NY Times:

    • Nationally, five percent MORE white people voted for President-elect Obama than voted for Senator Kerry.

    • +7 in the rural vote for the president-elect over Kerry.

    • In Indiana, the white vote was +22 over Kerry. And, get this, Kerry was +4 better among African Americans four years ago in Indiana.

    • Whites +7 in Ohio. +15 in Virginia. +17 in North Carolina.

    So when Limbaugh claims that the election was totally about race, you know which orifice he is blowing his information out of.

    Under The LobsterScope

  15. MH  •  Nov 6, 2008 @1:34 pm

    Wait, please tell me Nader didn’t actually get one whole percent. :

  16. PattyP  •  Nov 10, 2008 @10:55 am

    Great post. I’m forever trying to get the people in my circle of influence to understand that politics affects their lives no matter how hard they try to pretend it doesn’t. Many folks think they can stay removed from politics the same way one can be removed from any random activity, like bowling, for example. I put this up on Digg, it should be seen by many more eyes.



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