2008-11-07 / Columnists

Politically Unstable

Election Whoopee
Commentary by Norman Scott

There's a lot to be said about the election. I know people are thinking about the race issue. Since so many people are touching on this issue with more eloquence, I'll leave that to others. I am thinking about other issues. A smart guy in charge (Clinton was too, but seemed to have other things on his - er - mind.) A connection to the young people that reminds me of the way we felt in 1960 seeing the glorious John F. Kennedy replace Eisenhower. (We used to race home after school to see his press conferences.) An activated army who got involved in politics. Expect to see a new, inspired generation of people who hopefully won't get fooled again.

I haven't cared all that much about the politics as usual for quite a while, having voted third party in all but one or two elections over the last 25 years. Yet last Sunday I got up early and drove to Allentown, PA to spend a few hours working for Obama. Witnessing the massive ground game as people from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other places poured into a basement - Obama headquarters on the outskirts of town - made it worth it. And made me feel just a little less dread about the possibility of losing PA, which I felt was the key (stone) state. It did go to Obama (along with the Buckeye state and about 30 others.) And hanging with like-minded people, whom I had to look for under rocks in Rockaway. Some of the awful letters in The Wave didn't help. Thank goodness for the good sense to endorse Obama.

The conversations I engaged in with people who came up with so many irrational reasons to vote against Obama had been discouraging. The emails came in daily disparaging Obama for being the next Hitler and looking to set up a police state and being a terrorist Manchurian candidate. His "associations." Remember how he was going to paint the White House black?

They always made sure to disavow that race was an issue. They were so over the top on a candidate whose policies were not so far off John Kerry and Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Very talented, but a fairly traditional politician. An impeccable personal history. Exceedingly bright. Amazingly disciplined. Self-controlled. Calm. And logical and orderly in his thinking. Did I say exceedingly bright?

Growing up poor, both black and white, married to a working class gal. Both had used their smarts to rise to the top of society. How could all this not only be ignored, but be disparaged?

Some element of racism, latent or not, had to be in operation. I can just imagine what they were thinking as they saw people dancing in the streets in Harlem last night. Will they secede like half the nation did when another candidate from Illinois was elected 7 score and 8 years ago?

I purposely watched Fox, which had done its share in scaring people. Suddenly commentators were talking about how Obama was really a centrist and was surrounding himself with Clinton era advisers. I mean Warren Buffet the terrorist? Duh!

Will Obama turn out to be a great president or a failure? An FDR or a Herbert Hoover, who had an even lower approval rating than W? It could go either way. When you think of great presidents, they seem to emerge only in times of crisis. Think there are just a few of these lurking?

FDR ran for president with a very different agenda than he ended up enacting due to desperate times. He showed the kind of flexibility that was needed. Policies that had a major impact for generations.

The problem I have had with Republicans is that they are driven by a narrow ideology that has helped put us into this mess. Like if you breathe government action, you are a socialist. But when it takes forms of socialism to bail out millionaires, why go right ahead. It was this sort of thinking that led to handing over billions to banks that should have had the requirement to be used as loans to free up credit, but instead is being held onto by banks to buy other banks.

One day soon we will have only 3 or 4 banks in this country.

The only thing I have to fear is fear of Obama's dependence on the same old, same old Clinton people, who come out of places like Goldman Saks, when we need some truly radical thinking. Bill Ayres, where are you when we need you?

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