Please allow me to preface this article with something. If you don't believe Barack Obama has ushered our nation into the 21st century with a big BAM! - then stop here. When the entire world sits up and pays attention to an American election, the likes of which they've never seen, it means the world still looks to us for guidance and a sense of direction. After George W. Bush rebuked allies and enemies alike, it's refreshing to know we may, once again, stand tall with our global neighbors.
A lot of Republicans are scratching their heads these days, trying to understand what went wrong. They ceded both houses to Democrats 2 years ago, but this time around, they handed our next president a larger, more comfortable margin of friendly faces and willing supporters. As far as the presidency, it was apparent from the start that Barack Obama was going to win and Republicans had a long, treacherous road ahead of them to try to take it away, no matter who they nominated. After all, he had Oprah, one of the most powerful women in entertainment and popular culture, behind him all the way. Early on, he recruited millions of volunteer supporters to go out among the people to secure votes. He raised more money than any presidential candidate before him, and he knew how to work the media and the Internet. Let's not forget, the man can speak, and he did it much better than John McCain.
Post-election, there's going to be some finger pointing, but instead, the Grand Old Party needs to focus on rebuilding itself into the party it once was. It has lost those values. What happened to states rights and less government interference? The federal government grew exponentially, along with the deficit, during the 8 years of the Bush administration and the president, in particular, disappointed an awful lot of Americans. We cannot forget the war in Iraq and his handling of it since he invaded the country. Because of his tunnel vision and stubbornness, this administration has neglected to pay much needed attention to who our real enemies are: al Qaeda and its splinter groups. To his credit, we have not been attacked since September 11, 2001.
When it became evident that McCain would become the Republican nominee, infighting began in earnest. He was always branded as too liberal by the majority of party faithful. The GOP looked like a top gyrating out of control in spite of McCain selling his soul to gain the confidence of the far right of his own party. It didn't work. What Barack Obama had going for him, the Republicans did not. It remained an awkward alliance. The top stopped spinning when McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Way too folksy and not presidential timbre, it turned Obama's lack of experience into an asset while splintering the Republicans even further. The entire McCain campaign was a textbook lesson in disorderly conduct and I cringed at every turn. It was too painful and I sensed the long and arduous concession speech had begun to take form when he accepted his party's nomination at the Republican convention. Had John McCain been left alone to be John McCain, he would have fared better, but he still would have lost even if the economy hadn't bottomed out. That, my friends, spelled failure, yet it started many years ago and had plenty of time to fester.
The biggest problem the Republicans had looming this time around, the one that guaranteed doom, was BUSH, BUSH, BUSH, as the late Tim Russert might have said; and they will have to wait until January 20, 2009 to shed that onus. Not to take away from Obama's qualities; I just don't think he would have made it to the top post had it not been for America's terrible disdain for George W. Bush and his entire administration. When Dick Cheney stated he didn't care what the American public thought, that this administration was going to do it their way, what he was clearly saying to the country was screw you. I think the pivotal point in the presidential race came when Cheney made that statement. That, and years of failed policies and a malaise brought on by Bush. We became very frustrated and wanted to see change. I supported him in the beginning, but I took to task his "you're either with us or against us" ultimatum and I was insulted that by questioning him on any subject would infer that I was unpatriotic or, God forbid, a dreaded liberal, as if that were some sort of pariah. For years, the Republican led Senate and House toed the Bush line and today they suffer a great humility. The American people did an about face on November 4 and that included a fair amount of typically conservative voters - Bush supporters from the past 2 presidential elections.
We are not a nation consisting of the mentally blind. We do not need to be led like lost sheep as the Bush administration so fervently believed. That we could not render our own thoughts and decisions was a fatal flaw the Republican party never considered. We needed to be spied on to keep ourselves safe from not just foreign terrorists, but our own selves and that did not sit well. We needed to torture terrorists and deny them all human rights. And at every twist and turn, Bush & Co. circumvented the court system. They wrote their own rules and history will prove that. What will the party do now? I don't know. It's got to bring itself into the 21st century and admit that global warming, for one, is real and that there's an astute possibility that we humans are contributing to it. Heck, even if a majority of party members don't believe it, at least recognize that a vast majority of people worldwide do. Bend a little. Accept the fact that PETA and Greenpeace are real and not radical threats to our nation. Stop meddling into the personal affairs of individuals by legislating moral values left over from days gone by. What people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, for example, is no ones business as long as it's between consenting adults. Stop pandering to big business and the upper class while neglecting the middle and lower classes. The only thing that's trickled down is the party itself. It's trickled itself down into the basement. Republicans have got to leave the Reagan years behind and catch up with the population of today, and as unbelieving as it may sound, our president-elect was a fresh faced, just turned 19 year old voter when Jimmy Carter lost to the Great Communicator. That's proof we live in a new world, folks.
For Obama, it was never a matter of race. Before the election, I had high hopes that the nation had transcended race as a factor. November 4, 2008 proved that to be true. The Republicans never really brought the color of his skin into play, but instead chose to go after points they wrongly assumed the stupid public knew nothing about or could not conceive and they needed to be forcefully educated about. That made people angry for questioning their intelligence. Why they kept hammering on the theme of Obama's Muslim faith, something he is not and never was, was too much to bear. Fringe elements of the conservative right continued to question Obama's citizenship and to produce a birth certificate. To the naysayers who kept pounding home the notion that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, I say this: Do you really believe the government is that stupid? If the FBI, CIA, departments of Homeland Security, Immigration and Naturalization, Defense and every other agency that investigated his past could not find any truth to those asinine accusations, why did you continue to whine and gripe about it, right up to the end? If you think your own government is incapable of running its own investigations, then you deserve what you get. He's a socialist. He's a Marxist. He's a terrorist. The list could go on and on and it turned the nation off, especially young voters, the demographic he targeted first; the ones who insured his election. I like to think our population is made up of moderates and I think we get sick when all we ever hear is that the sky is falling. This race turned out to be the Democrats against the Chicken Littles. I'm a registered Republican and I watched the Republican party implode throughout the race before exploding in the end.
In the final days of the presidential race, the McCain people and Republican party continued to play the same old song, that Barack Obama was not qualified and didn't have enough experience to command. It was old and stale and it reflected the state of the party. In particular, the commercial showing an empty desk in the oval office with the voice-over that said he had never run anything was completely out of kilter. What they failed to realize, but the American public did not, was that he ran the best campaign in the history of this great nation and that was what played in the minds of voters. He stared down the Clintons without blinking an eye while taking out the Republican party. If that's not showing leadership, then what is?
Let's hope the new, nonpartisan-promising, president-elect and the rest of the Democrats learn something from the fall of the Republican empire, lest the same fate wrest power from their hands. If history proves itself, they will falter, but we are living in different times, aren't we? Changed times we can believe in?