Nick Fickling: What does Obama victory mean?
Vail, CO, Colorado
In Avon Home Depot the day after the election, I was chatting to a couple of old guys from the valley and asked them what they thought of the Vail Daily headline “OBAMA WINS.”
One shook his head and said, “Well, we sure are in big trouble now.” The other nodded in agreement and muttered an expletive. An Obama presidency is seemingly just one step away from “The end of days.”
This has me musing over what an Obama presidency will bring and what people fear it will bring.
Joe the Plumber said that an Obama victory would mean “death to Israel.” But, as Joe is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, I think we can move swiftly on.
Republicans seem to fear that the United States will shift politically to the far left. I am not sure that is likely. I think Obama realizes he has quite enough on his plate without making room for rigid doctrine.
A year ago, I opined that Obama would “do a Tony Blair,” getting elected as a left-of-center socialist politician but ending up as a firmly right-of-center president. From all that Obama has said in speeches and statements, or on his Web site, I do not see him as a rigid socialist thinker but rather as a pragmatist who happens to believe that fairness, equality of opportunity and a strong middle class are important for a successful U.S.
I look forward to the first Obama veto of a Reid or Pelosi bill, a sharp change from how Bush chose to march lockstep with his Republican Congress.
The Kenyans seemingly believe that Obama will have a soft spot for the country of his father’s birth. They are probably right, but I don’t think they should expect special treatment unless they earn it.
The Japanese apparently fear that Obama’s victory will help Chicago win the Olympics in 2016. I hope they are right, as that would very symbolically indicate that the world wants American leadership to return on a whole raft of issues. Obama’s victory is being welcomed throughout the world and being taken as an indication that the American people have chosen to reject much of what Bush 43 stood for.
To U.S. minorities, it is big news, for it makes them all believe that they, too, could be president. Obama does not have to do anything pro-African-American to be a great success with the African-American community. His mere presence in the White House is empowering and uplifting. If his presidency is anything like his campaign, he will genuinely try to be a good president to all Americans in all 50 states, and he will hold African-Americans accountable as parents and citizens.
To the Iraqis, it means that their leaders can sign a “statement of forces” agreement confident that the next president agrees that the U.S. presence in Iraq needs to be phased out by their chosen date in 2011.
To the Afghans, it means that the needed troop increases are likely to occur sooner rather than later.
To the U.S. taxpayer, the earlier withdrawal from Iraq means cuts in defense and State Department expenditure ” the same thing as a tax cut or funding for Obama’s ambitious agenda.
The NRA apparently sees Obama as disastrous for the firearms industry. He has consistently supported common sense gun laws but not ones that threaten the rights of the average hunting man.
To the Democrats, Obama’s victory refutes the Rove claim that Bush 43 would start a permanent Republican majority. With power comes responsibility, and the Democrats would be wise to remember that it was the Bush belief that the mandate he was given gave him carte blanche that derailed his presidency.
To comedians, Obama poses a challenge. And rather sadly, to the two old codgers I chatted to in Home Depot on Wednesday morning, it most likely does mean the end of the world as they knew it these past eight years. I’m not sure that is such a bad thing. Do you?
Nick Fickling is retired from the British military and lives in the Vail Valley. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org