I remember seeing Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was impressed. I also recall seeing him again in 2006, and can proudly say that on my birthday, professed a belief that he would be a bona fide candidate for the U.S. Presidency. My brother did not agree with me, and I respect his opinion as a teacher of civics, political science and history. As it turns out, I was right.
For the past eight years, I have been very disappointed in George W. Bush. I thought he would be a consensus builder, maybe even a healer, after the eight years of bickering during the Clinton Administration. I must admit that I was very bothered by the scandals (Monica, Jennifer, etc.) because I believe in the honor of the Presidency and that beyond what any single administration can do, it must represent the ideals of our society. I was also bothered, however, by the viciousness of the politics during Clinton's two terms. I have to believe in hindsight that this was caused by the zealots of the Reagan Revolution. When people feel vindicated and triumphant, as the Reagan generation did, then they act like conquerors, not leaders. When Clinton beat a weary George H.W. Bush, I think these same extreme elements decided they would fight rather than try to govern. For them, the revolution had not completed all of its objectives. Unfortunately for all of us, they did not understand that the nation did not want them to complete them all.
Back to G.W.B, I did support the declaration of war against Afghanistan, and I did not support the declaration of war against Iraq. It is not because I supported Hussein. It was because it had nothing to do with the War on Terror. The next logical move would have been Pakistan. I should mention that one of my two Masters degrees is in foreign affairs, and that I am a student of Robert Tucker's. Hence, I view national security and international affairs in a very realpolitik and tort fashion. I would also like to state that I did not support Dubya's economic policies. I believe that we have been grossly lax on our monetary policy. Too much cash seeks increasingly risky returns. Well, clearly I was right.
I recall seeing Senator Paul Tsongas, while he was speaking at Kenyon College in 1982. He said that politics was like a sail boat with a huge ballast. If it goes too far to one side, then it begins to right itself in the opposite direction. He argued that it tended to over shoot at times, but that was also healthy as the nation explored issues and policies and practices to remain a healthy democracy. I share this because after eight years of George Bush, excessive government spending, tax cuts and two wars, we should expect for the ship to tilt the other way.
So what do I hope for this Presidential election? I believe Barack Obama will be our 44th President, and I hope that he leads this country in a new direction. What I hope he avoids is overseeing a conquerors march into Washington. I hope he avoids the Democrat's turn to be like the Reaganites. What I hope he does do is help the nation restore civility and a common sense of destiny. When I read his two books, I saw a man that seriously considers the perspective of others and then carefully finds a creative and lasting solution. This is what we need in Washington and the world. We need to address education, employment, energy in a holistic way. We need to promote family and faith, without losing our inclusive and diverse heritage. We need to be proud of our technology and industry without seeing them as zero sum games where the spoils must be divided before they are earned.
This is what the election means to me. The chance to have a leader and government which thinks deeply and not dogmatically about our nation and will in turn, lead us to success in addressing opportunities and challenges alike.