Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm Really Glad Obama Won

What? But Larry, you're supposed to be my token arch-conservative friend! Why?

Glad you asked. First of all, contrary to popular opinion, I really don't dislike President Obama that much. I disagree with a great many of his policies (which is to be expected, since he's liberal and I'm conservative). But he's not a slimeball like Clinton (whose policies, btw, were more to my liking). And I have tired of the "I hate the president" game that we've been playing in this country since the Clinton years. One of my first reasons for being glad Obama won is that he kept us from going Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have liked Hillary's policies any better, and that would have only prolonged that particular drama. She also would likely have been a somewhat better player at the political game, which in the end means that his victory possibly hastens the next cycle when "my side" is ascendant.

Secondly, I'm really glad we elected our first black president. Truth be told, I almost voted for him just for that reason. He was going to win anyway, and it would have been nice to be a part of that great moment in US history. Yes, I would rather our first black president have been a conservative. I'd vote for Thomas Sowell in a heartbeat. (I was an enthusiastic supporter of a Colin Powell candidacy in 1996.) But as a kid born less than a year after Martin Luther King's assassination, who has personal experience of the lessening of racism in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and now, I'm happy about this.

Third, I'm happy because now there gets to be a genuine debate over small-government conservatism (whether you call it libertarianism, or Tea Party-ism, or whatever). If John McCain had been elected, there would not be Tea Parties. When George W. Bush was president, I hated the fact that he spent money like a drunken sailor. I have told a generation of students that he was not a fiscal conservative. But I held my nose and supported him, right up until the end, because he at least gave us Justices Roberts and Alito, and because he didn't throw in the towel on the War on Terror. And despite his (numerous) shortcomings, I have never wished that we had John Kerry as a wartime president. The same thing would have been true of a President McCain. I would have tied myself in knots trying to be happy with half a loaf--and so would most of the right. His fiscal policies would not be much different than Obama's, except maybe in scale. Finally, the frustrated small-government folks have emerged. This is good for the country in the long run.

Along the same lines, a President McCain's foreign policy would likely be near-identical to Obama's (especially in Iraq and Afghanistan). But McCain would be the target of a 24-7 drumbeat of negativity for it. We'd still be hearing daily body counts on CNN, folks would be lamenting the fact that Gitmo is still open from the rooftops, and probably Cindy Sheehan would have her own talk show. But with Obama in office, (most of) the left has taken joint-ownership of this difficult situation. Obviously, with him in office, Guantanamo is a harder issue than it once looked like. The troop withdrawal from Iraq begun under Bush continues at the exact same pace, but it gets applause rather than jeers. And it is possible for the same people who opposed both the Iraq surge and General Petreaus to now embrace both him, and a similar surge in Afghanistan. That's also good for the country.

Finally, a little perspective. There have been many comparisons of our current national doldrums with the "malaise" of the 1970s under Jimmy Carter. The end result of that was Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush, all of whom (yes, including Clinton) embraced center-right governance of one sort or another. There are many, many adults who have never actually held a job during a serious recession before. The vast majority of people under about 45 have no experience with unchecked liberal governance. I am confident enough in the strength of my positions to believe that good ideas will win out in the end. I feel strongly that in the near future, the electorate will begin making choices I like a lot better. And of course, I also believe that THAT is good for the country.


MichaelPolutta said...

Good thoughts, good perspective.

bekster said...

Even though I don't agree with him on most things, I believe that God gave him that position for a reason. If God hadn't wanted him to win, he wouldn't have. Obviously, the "black president" thing is good, as well as the riling up of some of the different groups (even if only to keep things in check). Still, I will be glad when his time is up. We've seen what he has to offer. I want to see what someone else can do.

Goode Design said...

I agree, good thoughts. Great post. sorry so late chiming in.

One thought / admonishment: "I hated the fact that he [George W. Bush] spent money like a drunken sailor."

I would appreciate if you'd refrain from speaking such fallacy. George W. Bush did NOT spend like a drunken sailor. If you remember, Ronald Reagan asserted that "sailors spend their own money." So, indeed, GWB was a fiscal nightmare. His spending was not reserved to his own purse strings. For that, I am disenfranchised with the republican party for life.