Election Night Thoughts

My Thoughts On: November 4th, 2008

Well, it's been a while since you heard from me and that's a shame, because there is always plenty to comment on recently, but I've been keeping myself busy with the mundane. Regardless, politics is a topic I remain interested in despite being disaffected with politics these days. It's election night, so I thought I would at least give an obligatory post about it all.

Am I voting tonight? Well, I intended to, but I received my ballot late and missed the mailing deadline, and did not get a chance to actually drop it off. I could've rushed out with great expediency to drop off my ballot at a drop center tonight, but I didn't feel the need. As an Oregon voter, my presidential pick, who was Barack Obama (which I will get into in a moment), was a clear winner of this state, so my vote doesn't affect much there. The state's minor issues (various state constitutional amendments and a few highly contested political contests) were interesting but not worth a late night trip to get past the voter crowds.

As it proceeds to get later in the evening, Obama has a clear lead. I've expected Obama to win for some time, not because of exaggerative pollster hucksterism or internet rantings, but for simpler reasons, like Obama being younger and more less dead than McCain (akin to John F. Kennedy vs. Nixon). Surprisingly, I think the fact that he's black has little bearing on the election itself, as those of you looking at the figures are noticing with exit polling results. As much as it rallies black voters (who are historically Democrat voters one way or another), white voters are still the vast majority of the vote (being 80% of the general population does that) and a black candidate doesn't seem to affect their voter trends any. The majority of white people are not really racist (unless my caucasian friends just aren't telling me about their white pride rallies) thus negating any real racial influence of Obama being a black candidate in that crowd. The very small minority of whites who do care about race (hillbillies and rednecks for instance) never voted Democrat anyways, so we can expect the standard voting trends to still apply. It's unusual for me to suggest so, but this election actually appears to be more about issues, which is good but also fickle since Americans have no special virtues in making stands on the "issues".

There were a few reasons why I was going to vote for Obama but since none of these reasons are really in line with anything other than fleeting, personal banalities, I didn't see it as mattering much either way. I could outline it better though, I'm sure those of you who know I disliked Obama are curious as to why I feel this way now:

1. With current economic conditions, I expected an Obama victory would damage the economy. It would start with post-election uncertainty (investor trading would slow as they wait to see what Obama is going to do with the economy), then continue as Obama meddles with economic matters after his induction (particularly in raising taxes on the rich people who generally do the most investment and trading in the marketplace). Why would I want bad things to happen to the economy? Well, I'm convinced that the nation will very likely experience a great depression-scale economic decline in my lifetime. The more sharp the collapse, the more it will change the economic landscape, and even though change of this nature if typically negative, I prefer to be an optimist. Likewise, if it happens soon (while I am young), I will live to see some of the post-depression recovery. Whereas if a serious depression happens when I'm old instead, the severity will be much worse (it could wreck more than the economy), and I cannot be sure of my ability then to be able-bodied or chipper enough to get by. So I see the current steep recession as an opportunity for worse, and in some perverse and assuredly cynical fashion, I see that as a good thing. Even if I'm wrong about the short-term economic prospects of this (we'll know by Wall Street's activities tomorrow if investor confidence in an Obama victory will be good or bad), assuming Obama attempts to live up to his campaign promises, the long-term impact of an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress and President is not good for Wall Street.

2. While Obama may be full of beans when he talks about "hope for change", there is one significant change his presidency would bring: and end to Iraq War and Bush era politics. This will break up the political entrenchments and cliques, and depolarize some of the fringe and independent voters. This helps reverse some of the damage caused by the post-9/11 political process. I, like most of you, are tired of Republicans being pro-war, about the constant discussion of terrorism and Iraq, and conversely, Democrats extolling the virtues of fighting fascism as if it excused their own excesses. It'll start us with something of a clean slate, which is a great time for political discourse, something I enjoy.

3. Obama has campaigned strongly on a lot of issues with government transparency, while I don't particularly see that as being a strong thing one way or the other, an Obama victory would encourage these attitudes in future elections, which would be healthy for the political process.

4. While I certainly am no supporter of programs like universal healthcare, they are increasingly being supported by both Democrats and Republicans. That a program like this will be implemented in my lifetime is a certainty at this point, knowing history and trends in this area, and Obama's initiatives all seem to have comfortable and reasonable loopholes, such as opt-out provisions. While by no means good, universal healthcare and other social initiatives like it are inevitable to be implemented the way our government is developing, and Obama seems to be at least somewhat interested in giving us options.

Anyways, it's getting late. I started writing this article while Obama was in the lead, now he is giving his victory speech. John McCain's concession speech was actually fairly good, I might note. Well, I'm going to "put my hands on the arc of history" by summing up this post with some optimism for the future. My optimism though is not placed in the future of our current institutions in government, our politicians, or even our newly elected President. My optimism is placed in the hope that admist these more troubling times which we spend together, that there will be change of a more substansive nature than what Obama or any politician can offer you or me. There is a different kind of "change" than the kind we hear about in political campaigns, the fact it exists is enough for me, for the time being.

I hope to have some more articles up soon, and I intend in the not too distant future to update www.paoracle.com, it's starting to stagnate and for the longest time I've had a plan to restructure the way posts appear on it. Get online and say hi to me sometime if you haven't talked to me in a while, my instant messenger is always open.

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