9.6.08

A REPLAY OF 1968. That year, a song titled Reach Out Of The Darkness treated listeners to
Think it's so groovy now
That people are finally getting together
Think it's wonderful now
That people are finally getting together.
Heavy, man. But here it is, in Senator Obama's victory speech.
[I]t's about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.
A few years later, John Lennon wrote
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one.
Imagine Senator Clinton's concession speech.
Imagine how far we could've come, how much we could've achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.

We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.
The campaign has gotten to the stage that national Democrats, and their court intellectuals on the campuses, and their cheerleaders in the establishment press, begin to raise those false hopes about the powers of a President. Why do responsible and intelligent people interpret the "leap" in leap year as a leap of faith, repeatedly, despite the accumulation of evidence that Presidents, even with large majorities in both legislative chambers and with the sometimes unsubtle support of the academicians and the reporters, do well to pass one-third of their programs? Perhaps it's simply the expected behavior of political figures.

Whatever the reason, here's Senator Clinton's leap of faith, which served as a refrain to assorted bits of griping and wonkery.
[W]e will live in a stronger America. That's why we need to help elect Barack Obama our President.
Perhaps she believes that. No doubt many of the enthusiasts who attended the speech and cheered at the end of each stanza did.

But hers is the standard academic-establishment-Democratic cliche approach about the necessary election of a Democratic president as prerequisite to establishing paradise on earth. Senator Obama deviates from the standard.
I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.
By way of reality check, Vermont Tiger's Geoffrey Norton notes,
You have to wonder how so many people can expect governments to do so many ambitious things -- fix health care, end global warming, etc. -- when they have such a hard time with the basics. Further discussion here & here.
That doesn't deter true believers. Walter Mondale's campaign manager elaborates.
To respond effectively to our long-term challenges, the federal government must command an increased share of gross domestic product and extend its reach in other ways as well. The public sector will be called upon to provide new forms of insurance against economic risks and volatility and to assume more responsibility for health insurance and retirement security. To the extent that markets cannot police themselves or provide reasonable returns for workers, government will have to step in. Through the public mobilization of capital and will, we must supply the public goods--investment in infrastructure, research, and post-secondary education, among others--that we have neglected at our peril. And many millions of Americans will be unable to save for the future without new forms of public encouragement and support.
He understands something that both Senators missed.
In short, we need nothing less than a new social contract that reorganizes responsibilities among government, individuals, and the private sector. It will take time, experimentation, and political contestation to hammer out its terms.

This would never have been easy, and it is especially challenging now. With large short-term and long-term deficits looming, clearing fiscal space for new initiatives will be difficult at best. And while the public is demanding change, the current administration's woeful performance since 2002 has reduced public trust and confidence in government's ability to produce change.
That's a realistic evaluation of the situation, as well as a warning in advance about any optimism, should President Obama be working with large Democratic majorities in both houses.

Compared to this Reason essay, it's optimistic.
Fifth, and finally in our sad saga, that same year, 2008, saw the election of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as the 44th President, spelling the final end of the Rand Era. In retrospect, we can see that the political triumph of a military leader, carrying his stern message of national service and sacrifice, was made inevitable by the continuation of the Iraq and Afghan wars; in times of severe crisis, democratic electorates naturally turn to the Strong Man. A few lonely figures, notably Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), argued that McCain-style policies were not the solution to America's problems, but rather the cause of the problems. But despite big fundraising totals, Paul's argument was little regarded during the 2008 Republican primary. And in the general election, McCain swept to victory against the Democrats, who, interestingly enough, seemed actually to be more libertarian than McCain. And as president, as we all know, McCain was supremely eager to stride manfully in the Progressive footsteps of his activist-interventionist idol, Theodore Roosevelt.
The preceding four points of the essay are not speculative. Go and read it.

I'll close with another song.
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’
And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

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