Musings following the 2008 presidential election
November 23, 2008
It still amazes me that Barack Obama ” the most liberal member of the Senate, as well as the least qualified presidential candidate in history ” was elected by a comfortable margin to be our 44th president, especially during such trying economic and political times.
It now seems clear that the financial crisis that exploded on the scene in September, whether or not it was the “October Surprise” that many expected, was the primary impetus that drove many voters to take a chance on Obama.
Why would the American electorate take such a chance? Though I could have never voted for someone as liberal and untested as Obama, with such a controversial and unknown past, one cannot deny his campaign was very well managed, portraying him as a historic figure ” a centrist who was a great and inspiring leader, with the experience and temperament to fix all our problems. Zero record to support that portrayal, of course, but it succeeded brilliantly. That, and more than $600 million (much of it from unknown sources), bought the office.
Never mind that things were going quite well until Democrats took over Congress in January 2007. Bush and the Republican Congress did a pretty good job of reviving the economy and protecting the nation since Sept. 11, 2001. That’s supported by facts. It didn’t matter. Obama kept hammering home the theme that Bush’s policies were the root of all problems, and many people bought it hook, line and sinker.
Regrettably, the media were complicit in perpetuating the Obama myth, even openly rooting for the candidate throughout the primaries and the general election. Add to that, conservatives did a poor job of presenting a consistent and coherent message to bolster their case. One thing is certain, though. Following this election cycle, the mainstream media have lost all credibility, and will never again be trusted to serve as an honest referee in the political process.
Equally disturbing to conservatives was how a center-right nation could lurch so far left, which was really driven home with Democratic gains in both houses of Congress. In the end, a slight majority of Americans voted for moving sharply left, including large tax increases for most (in a contracting economy, no less), no energy independence, bailouts for everyone, retreat from victory in the war on terror, crippling trade protectionism, socialized (rationed) medicine and, last but not least, deficit spending on a massive scale. Sounds like European socialism on steroids!
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When reality sets in a few years from now, I believe many Americans will come to regret their decision to give radical liberals complete control of government. Many people, I believe, voted the way they did under the mistaken assumption that the country will return to the boom times of the late ’90s, when Bill Clinton was president and Republicans controlled Congress. They will be sorely disappointed when that does not happen. The late ’90s was a unique time in history (a modern day version of the Industrial Revolution), with the massive economic bubble created by the Y2K and Internet phenomena, and will most likely not be repeated in our lifetimes, let alone the next few years.
Additionally, I believe that scrapping our heretofore wildly successful system of free-market capitalism for European-style socialism will ultimately destroy the economic engine that has given so many so much. At the very least, this is not a recipe for creating jobs. Just ask the Europeans, with their chronic double-digit unemployment and stagnant economies.
Most of all, I feel a profound sense of sadness for all the young people who bought into the Obama hype. They may have unknowingly signed their own economic death warrants. A sense of personal achievement and responsibility in our society is gone, forever.
Hopefully, starting in two years, Americans will come to their senses, and start swinging the pendulum back the other way.
– Conrad Velin is Regional Finance Director for Sierra Nevada Media Group.