First, I sincerely congratulate Obama on his win. Though I disagree with him on some policy issues, there were alot of things I liked about him. With that said, I’d like to reflect on some possible outcomes of an Obama presidency, things that I will have an interest in throughout the next four years.
Black Culture: If there is one thing this election showed, it is that the view that a Black person cannot be president, that racism continues to play a significant role in todays economy, was flat out wrong. Personally, I never doubted that a Black man can become president but many people I know did. An Obama presidency proved they were wrong and will be a strong argument against anybody who continues to believe that race plays a significant role in limiting minority upward mobility. How his presidency will affect the Black community is something to watch. John McWhorter, one of my favorite Black authors, has made the case throughout the whole Obama candidacy that Obama will have a tremendous affect on Black culture. For example, in June he wrote:
As often as not, the idea was that America could not seriously support a black man for its highest office.I didn’t get this. The America I live in today does not seem as deeply stamped by bigotry as these people seemed to think. It seemed as if, on this topic, I was talking to people who had woken up after 25 years and didn’t know how the country had changed. Couldn’t they see that this man’s color was only going to help?…Barack Obama’s success is the most powerful argument against this way of thinking in the entire four decades since recreational underdoggism was mistaken as deep thought. A black man clinching the Democratic presidential nomination — and rather easily at that — indicates that racism is a lot further “beneath the surface” than it used to be.
He has made the point repeatedly in his blogginghead interviews with Brown University economist Glenn Loury, see for example, how he uses the Obama presidency to demolish Loury’s argument on “institutional racism” here (all of the interviews, btw, are a must watch. See here for a list).
Add in the fact that Obama is not shy on criticizing absent fathers, bad behavior, and a lack of focus on education in the Black community and you get a very interesting combination.
Black Politics: Thomas Sowell long ago explained why it is in the interest of Democrats to continue to perpetuate a view of the world that sees racism as primary. He wrote:
If the share of the black vote that goes to the Democrats ever falls to 70 percent, it may be virtually impossible for the Democrats to win the White House or Congress, because they have long ago lost the white male vote and their support among other groups is eroding. Against that background, it is possible to understand their desperate efforts to keep blacks paranoid, not only about Republicans but about American society in general.
Liberal Democrats, especially, must keep blacks fearful of racism everywhere, including in an administration whose Cabinet includes people of Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic, and Jewish ancestry, and two consecutive black Secretaries of State. Blacks must be kept believing that their only hope lies with liberals.
If, for the sake of argument, the view that racism is a prevalent part of our culture is eroded…what are the long term implications on Black politics? Would this loosen the Democrats hold on Blacks? Something to keep an eye on.
The Bush Legacy: Obama’s choices in office could have, ironically enough, a positive affect on Bush’s legacy. For example, if Obama decides to take, even with the control of congress, a “pragmatic” approach to foreign policy and continues many of Bush’s more controversial positions, it could have a long run positive affect on how Bush’s legacy is viewed. Take Obama’s now ambiguous stand on Guantanamo bay. The AFP writes:
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Barack Obama’s presidential transition team said Tuesday it was working though the complicated issues involved in his campaign pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay “war on terror” camp in Cuba.
The Democratic president-elect is already under fierce pressure from human rights groups to close the controversial high-security facility but faces a legal minefield in deciding where to house inmates and how to try them.
“Senator Obama has said that he intends to close the facility at Guantanamo, that’s a complicated matter,” said his transition co-chair John Podesta.
“It’s under review … when we have something to say about that, we’ll say it,” Podesta said at the first news conference of the transition in Washington.
A complicated matter, huh? What to do with all the inmates inside? How will the judicial system work? Will GWB’s worries materialize? Will Obama find an alternative in name only to Guantanamo? Also, what will Obama’s position be on CIA interrogations? The continued Iraq war? The Patriot Act? How all this plays out will set the stage on how GWB is looked at in the future.
Inner City Liberal As President: I’ve always distinguished between inner city liberalism, which I find appealing on several grounds, and limousine liberalism which I find abhorrent on many grounds. Inner city liberalism is much more sincerely focused on problems of the poor. Concerns about jobs, equal treatment, human dignity and religion all play a role. Limousine liberalism is much more the rich mans religion: environmentalism, utopia, elitism and a general disdain for religion. Though I wouldn’t classify Obama as a complete inner city liberal – he does, after all, have alot of limousine liberalism in him – he is the closest there has ever been in the history of the presidency. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out in his politics and policies. How people view him and treat him.
It should be a very interesting next four years. 😀