Our Turn

Yesterday I set my status label as “Our Turn.” I want to expand on that thought a little.

Look, I’m a sickening liberal. A smug, self-satisfied liberal. A liberal who can’t believe anyone else with a working mind is a conservative. (Sorry! <– look, at least I’m apologetic.)

My father would always tell us, “Anyone under 30 who isn’t a liberal doesn’t have a heart. Anyone over 30 who isn’t a conservative doesn’t have a brain.” (This quote is frequently misattributed to Winston Churchill. Wikiquote argues it was François Guizot, who is said to have stated, “Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.”)

Well, here I am, 41, still brainless. (WTB brain?) I’m someone who would quote the fictional Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits in The West Wing):

“Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things…every one! So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, ‘Liberal,’ as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.”

But even as disgustingly liberal as I am, even as much as I supported Obama and rejoice in his victory, and even though I’m surrounded by people who think like me (California voted 61% for Obama, and my county result was 69% Obama), there’s no way I have blinders on and suddenly believe that all the rest of the country is somehow magically united.

This week I’m full of optimism and hope (despite Prop 8 passing). I cannot wait to see Bush the Junior leave office forever. Some of the immediate changes in policy (accelerated withdrawal from Iraq, and reversal of bans on stem cell research just to name two) have my full support.

But I know that Obama has made lots of promises, and he’s just a human being. He’s got a lot to live up to. I hope he can turn around some of the 48% who didn’t vote for him and turn them into supporters. But I know how much of an open mind I had for Bush in 2000 and 2004: Not very open at all. I remember how disheartened I was. And I know that 48% of U.S. voters are just as disheartened now as I was four years ago. Practically everything Bush said reinforced my already highly negative opinion of him. That’s just the way I spin. There was almost no chance he could convince me that he was a good president. (I still think Reagan was a bad president, even though history disagrees with me on that one.)

So I don’t expect many minds to change. If anything, given the daunting challenges Obama faces in January, many who voted for him will turn on him when there are not overnight positive results.

Conservatives are conservative. Liberals are liberal. Elections are decided by the people in the middle.

Here’s the most telling factoid for me from the election (from CNN’s exit polls — scroll down to Party ID result section):

  • Democrats cast 39% of the votes, and 89% of them voted for Obama.
  • Republicans cast 32% of the votes, and 90% of them voted for McCain.
  • Independents cast 29% of the votes, and 52% of them voted for Obama (vs. 44% for McCain).

Like almost all US Presidential elections, this was a close election.

And yet here we had an election with an unpopular war, an economic disaster, the most unpopular sitting president since Truman in 1952, a vice presidential candidate demonstrably unprepared for office, and a unique candidate at a unique time in history. While you could argue that the electoral results were one-sided (365 to 173), the popular vote certainly was close. Bush took 51% in 2004; Obama took only 52% in 2008.

So, “Our Turn.” I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts — because Obama will doubtless need to work miracles to make his turn last more than four years.

Thing is: I think he can. Yes, he can.

7 Responses to “Our Turn”

  1. Tomi Says:

    I am moderately conservative, but I am not “against” Obama. If he has a good set of advisors, I think he will do well. Actually, I like many of his proposals for taxation.

  2. Stuart Says:

    It’s amazing what it takes to get the correct candidate elected.

    I can’t imagine being a Republican and trying to defend what Bush (and the rest of the party) has done in the last 8 years….yet I see them try all the time. They seem so transparently disingenuous and I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t see it.

    Anyways…at least I do feel hope for good leadership now…and that hasn’t happened in a long time.

  3. Tomi Says:

    I do not try to defend Bush for the past 8 years, just as some Democrats would choose not to defend Clinton. I believe that everyone has a right to try to defend their choices and maybe because they truly believe in what they are saying, then voters are sympathetic to their particular party. I want strong leadership so I am excited to see what happens in the next 4 years.

  4. Stuart Says:

    I should clarify that when I say “They seem so transparently disingenuous”, the “They” I am referring to are Republican politicians…not the average Joe republican.

  5. Tomi Says:

    What I find interesting is that I actually fear the Joe democrat for being a Joe republican. It’s been this way even before this election race began…about when Bush won his second term. Around my neighborhood, there are many Obama signs, but not one McCain sign and I’ve seen drivers give the finger for having a McCain sticker on their bumper. Isn’t that ridiculous? To me, it’s just politics. I see that it’s a cycle- just like the economy.

  6. Lani Says:

    I find it highly disturbing that the race could be so close. But the people voting for McCain were probably not viewing him as a clone of Bush. Luckily we won’t know how much a McCain presidency would have been a repeat or extension of Bush’s.

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