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A New Day: Feelings vs. Reason

Cheers to my brother’s girlfriend. Always the optimistic, tree-hugging, whale-saving, jailed-protester, "I like the Shins and think voting is important" bleeding-heart liberal with a heart of gold, the girl whose car’s bumper has more opinions than any human I’ve ever … Read More

By / November 5, 2008

Cheers to my brother’s girlfriend. Always the optimistic, tree-hugging, whale-saving, jailed-protester, "I like the Shins and think voting is important" bleeding-heart liberal with a heart of gold, the girl whose car’s bumper has more opinions than any human I’ve ever come across was one of the lone people to have apparently kept things in prospective amongst last night’s revelry. Upon arriving home after wading through the celebrations in the street following Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, I logged onto the Facebook and was greeted by a message on the News Feed: "Amanda Duzak is very happy that Obama won, but remember he has no intentions to bring down the capitalist system." As kind of an asshole, it never slipped my mind that while Obama’s election is exciting and historic and all, things are still pretty bad right now, and unlikely to change significantly. In fact, an argument can be made that there may even be cause for concern, as tough times, economically and politically, are the primordial ooze for the rise of tyranny. Am I insinuating that Obama will become a Stalin-esque dictator? No, it doesn’t seem terribly likely. However, the guy is already pretty powerful, and doesn’t even take office for another several months. On a side note, from my ironic, detached pedestal, nothing would make me happier than for Obama to show up to his Inauguration in full Muslim garb and proclaim himself Caliph of the new Western Islamic Empire. Sensationalism aside, what is more likely to happen is that the economy continues to falter, Iraqis continue to die, the environment breaks down even further, and the world will continue as it was on November 3rd. Sorry to lob a big matzo ball of pessimism out there, but what I really don’t understand what anyone is expecting to happen now. The scenario of Obama’s rise and subsequent election to high office in a lot of ways parallels the fictitious ascendance of Baltimore mayor Tommy Carcetti in the TV show, The Wire: A prominent local politician, a racial minority amongst his base, runs against the ruling party on a platform of hope and reform, inspiring the masses and being swept into office on the strength of a solid campaign based around cult of personality. The city sees the election of the new Carcetti Administration as "A New Day," with everyone, including Carcetti and his staff, ready to begin making real changes in the troubled city. Before long, however, reality sets in and the Administration is faced with having to cut money from the schools in effort to reach crime goals, from hospitals to help with schools, from community programs to help hospitals and so on and so forth. When the show leaves off, Carcetti has jumped ship on Baltimore to run for governor, and the city is left in exactly the same state as it was before he came to power. The Wire is, of course, fictional, but the cyclical nature of hope, failure, prosperity, politics, and all that other good stuff is very real. One man isn’t going to step up and fix all the wrongs faced by the American people. The best anyone can really hope for is that his administration doesn’t make things worse, something that I personally believe he will probably succeed in. What will be interesting is to see how the jubilant but reactionary public reacts to President Obama when things don’t immediately get better. I’m fairly confident in the new Administration, and believe that it will actually do some good. However, calibrate your expectations, or you are setting yourselves up for disappointment.

This is the second of a two-part post about last night’s election. For more, check out Part I: A New Hope

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