About six weeks ago, I resigned myself to the fate of last night. I have no use for false hope, as I have no use for the peddlers of such.
From around two years ago until late September of this year, I believed that Obama had no chance of winning. During the hysteria of the spring, I sat back, comforted in the thought that the American people would reject him once they became better acquainted with him. Americans could not possibly vote for such an extreme man—radical ideas, an absolutely partisan voting record, extensive unsavory associations that would keep someone even from the Senate in any normal election (wherein your primary and general election opponents did not both go down in shame after seedy divorce records surfaced), duplicity in addressing different groups, and the list goes on . . . When McCain surged after the Republican convention, I thought that sense had re-entered Americans’ political consciousness. McCain is quite a flawed candidate, but compared to Obama, there is no contest of who should be trusted with the presidency.
As anti-democratic and pessimistic about human nature as I am, I almost always give people too much credit. Americans voted for Obama in large numbers; even my native city went whole hog for him. He is the president-elect, and he promises change—in his own words from last night, America will be rebuilt brick by brick.
But whither the country, and after what fashion will she be modeled, this new incarnation of America? As Buchanan noted in “The Coming Backlash,” Obama can fulfill his desires to remake America in his own Leftist image or he can imitate unprincipled Clintonian pragmatism. He either alienates his supporters or the country. If and when he makes a mess, how long can the media cover for him? How long will he appear post-partisan, post-racial, post-culture wars while simultaneously championing an ascendant Leftist federal monolith? When, I wonder, will buyer’s remorse overcome Americans’ fanatical devotion to expiating white guilt through the glorious Obama presidency?
I am curious how his supporters will act when they discover Obama as he is rather than as they hoped he would be in their messianic longing. Will the young who flocked to him become jaded and anti-political? Will working class whites feel betrayed—suckers!—that they fell for such a snake oil peddler? Will blacks resent this falling away of white support as resurgent racism? I do not entertain the possibility of black disillusionment. Black Americans do not abandon their politicians, regardless of incompetence or scandal. Marion “bitch set me up” Barry is still in the DC government. As I wrote earlier, this may be a tribal defense reflex. Possibly, blacks are just more loyal; endearing portraits of blacks in the nineteenth century consistently stereotype them as loyal and devoted. Perhaps this was to assuage insurrection fears among Southern whites, or perhaps it was true. From what I know of history, black Africans and their descendants have a history of neglecting their own self-interests in favor of those in power; this loyalty may be a sub-Saharan meme. Obama will keep devoted black support; he can count on such armies not to abandon him during the coming crises at which Biden hints. He will need them, as did Slick Willy . . .
Speaking of race, as I wrote before, I find it astounding how self-delusional human beings can be. Even on NRO, a man as intelligent as Yuval Levin wrote this morning in The Corner:
But this campaign has had a positive side that went beyond political strategy. I think our country made a serious mistake in its choice of a leader today, which is something democracies do very frequently. But we also showed that we can make our judgments—right or wrong—without the taint of racism that used to burden America’s big decisions. That’s a very real silver lining in what for some of us is a very dark cloud of an election. We looked at two men of different races and we judged them as two men, not two races. Obama did not win because he was black, and was not set back because he was black. It’s another reason to love our country. We have shown ourselves that we are better than we used to be in at least one important way. We didn’t need to elect Barack Obama to show ourselves that; we needed only to treat him as we would any candidate in his position. And I think that’s all we did. I only wish that in judging these two men as men we had judged them correctly.
Can he possibly believe this? Listening to people whom I know personally, watching some boys cry and murmur about this “historic moment” last night after the big announcement, reading articles, and hearing political commentary, it is clear to me that the driving force behind Obama’s messianic message of hope is racial. A large chunk of his supporters worked for him, testified for him, gave money to him, and voted for him because he was the Great Black Hope. The world is awash in celebration that the United States elected a black man president, and Americans want to hear their masters’ praises for doing such a nice deed.
However, elections actually matter—not simply so that a wretched reporter can exploit little black boys in Times Square, asking them if they are happy that now they can grow up to be president. I have little regard for public opinion, but I always assume more maturity than is merited. We just elected the president—not made a decision to give Morgan Freeman his due with a Lifetime Achievement Award (in addition to his many Oscars, of course). Yet, what matters to folks is that Obama is black, not that he is unfit with destructive ideas and a sordid political history. Sigh . . .
The March for Life should be more interesting than usual in January, especially if Obama keeps his promise to sign F.O.C.A. as his first presidential act. In this, he would follow that other guy from Hope land. President Clinton commemorated his first anniversary of Roe versus Wade and day of the march by revoking abortion restrictions on overseas military bases and Reagan’s Mexico City Policy.
Speaking of the march, I have more unfortunate election news. As a Cincinnatian, I was proud that two speakers each year at the preceding rally were two of Cincinnati’s House members, Representatives Steve Chabot and Jean Schmidt. Schmidt won re-election, but my own West Side Congressman narrowly lost. After Henry Hyde and Christopher Smith, he was one of the prolife leaders in the House. I am so saddened by his lost; Chabot was a good man to have in D.C. I suppose that I’ll not run into him occasionally at the grocery or the airport in Washington. It really is too bad.
Life goes on, but the survival of our republic just took a beating. Maybe that is a good thing. The social and historical Darwinian in me thinks that unfit systems should die and be replaced by workable ones. Yet, the American in me weeps for every mile that we slide into the abyss. Anglo-Saxon liberal constitutionalism has been in peril for a century, and yet we have survived. For how long shall we be so lucky? America is the most promising hope for human liberty . . . where shall we go if this land is lost to tyranny?
Perhaps, Obama will govern as a centrist, or maybe a radical overreaching of the Left will bring a rebirth of conservative principles to the country. For too long, Republicans have counted on electoral strategy instead of articulating a defense of limited government, a viable culture, and foreign, trade, and population policies made in the interest of American citizens. Reagan did not win with Rove-like strategies; he articulated a vision, fleshed it out with working policies, and communicated with the American people. Regardless, the overall trek for the last century gives many reasons for despair. Reagan was perhaps a swan song for the republic.