On Tuesday the 20th, Barack Obama becomes President of the United States of America. Some will have a sexless orgasm, others will fear for the(ir) future.
Me…I’m cautiously optimistic.
After all, I remember 1992 really well. I drove a cab around the Lansing-East Lansing area, and had some decent days off (Thursday-Friday) to take care of stuff. That also allowed me to take in some sights and sounds that I still remember clearly today.
I remember watching Perot give a speech at the State Capitol Building hours before he temporarily threw in the towel at Capitol City Airport in Lansing, Michigan (The taped “X” where he stomped off was a sort of tourist spot for the locals for a while) and remembered how it seemed he needed an extreme amount of approval for his actions. I drove some of the Clinton people from the Airport to the hall where they were doing the East Lansing debate on October 19th, 1992. It was a wonderfully warm day, and the students were up and down Farm Lane near the Wharton Center, watching everyone come in. Friends were commenting on the news coverage and other things. And after I got up early and voted, I drove around and would see lots of people holding signs for their favorite candidate at various places. And finally, the candidate I voted for won the election.
And what happened? After two years of fighting windmills for minuscule gains the Republicans took over the Congress and Senate, and Clinton was left to be the punchline for the remaining six years. While things didn’t fall apart the way they did during Shrub Jr’s eight years in office, that’s only because everything pretty much stayed the same. Worse, the Social Conservatives were emboldened enough to cause the president to be Impeached (Impeachment means the officeholder is being brought to trial by his peers (the House in the case of President Clinton), a Conviction is the trial itself.) for the “crime” of lying about one’s sex life. The saddest thing about that was that it was only oral; there was no true “consummation” to his dalliance.
Clinton had become a figurehead by that time. I remember my vote for 1996 because I was in the hospital for pneumonia and I had to vote with an emergency absentee ballot. I’m not sure they even counted my vote (as they didn’t need to, Michigan was securely Democratic for that election).
In comparison, George W. Bush was able to remain powerful until two weeks before Obama’s Inauguration. Two weeks being the time it’s taken him to say “goodbye.”
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Now that we’re looking forward to the new president (some with fear and loathing, others with joy and celebration), I must admit that I had hope for George W’s presidency at its start.
If you’re going to go in with fear and loathing about your president at the start, you’d better be prepared for four years of ugliness shading your mind and soul.
Honestly, I remember HATING Carter when he first took office. And while much of the ugliness that went on in my life during that time had nothing to do with him, I can’t help but wonder how much better things would have gone had I actually started with a happier view at the start of the Carter presidency (but then I have to admit that my total impression — that of a man who had taken an office above what he should have taken — has proven correct, to his benefit as he has gone on to have as good a post-presidential life as any president could claim).
Since then, I’ve taken on a hopeful view with every new president we’ve had. Reagan (of course, since I was a Social Conservative then and still find the beliefs strike chords in my being), George H.W. Bush (although I was one of two people to chant “Four More Years” in a sad, mocking way at the MSU Union Building after Bush was declared the winner), Clinton, even George W. Bush (for which I got some sharp words from a couple of friends). I don’t have to stay hopeful, after all, especially when the guy ends up being an utter bastard (as George W. Bush proved himself with his 50+1 strategy; I wonder if the Republicans would still be in control if they didn’t try to make Democrats an unneeded presence during much of his tenure?).
But for all the people thinking that a New Era of Government Power For The People I got this to say: I felt the same way for Clinton, and look what we got: Eight More Years of Neocon victories. Not only that, but Social Conservatives tend to be more active and gain more victories during the early parts of Democratic Presidential periods simply because it’s during those times that they go out and force governments to do stuff.
An example, on the Abortion issue: I listen to Revelant Radio (amongst other radio stations), and have noticed that they’ve changed their tack on the reproduction rights/duties issue. Now, instead of talking about it and wondering how they can jerri-rig their reasoning for the supreme court for their benefit, they’ve started calling campaigns and pickets. Similar stuff happened during the Clinton administration, and it was during this time that the “Absolute Right to Abortion” had various limits put on it. These limits pretty much stayed pretty much where they were during Shrub Jr’s tenure, but now…even with the democratic majorities, I would not be surprised to see a sudden uptick in limits and de facto bans on abortion. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the Supreme Court would turn around and declare the human fetus a human being.
I’ve seen how the phalanx of conservatism works. Since Reagan, the economic conservatives (rob the poor for the sake of the rich) have had consistent and regular movement (although with the occasional crumb-throwing that happens every so often), the Social movements have had their biggest victories during the Pseudo-Liberal period of Clinton and the Libertarians have had the pleasure of watching the Left tear itself in pieces every chance it’s gotten. Don’t be surprised if Obama ends up presiding over the banning of abortion, the institution of a regressive tax system (where the poor are indeed and explicitly taxed at legally higher rates than the rich) and the de facto revocation of the 13th amendment (with rules that allow whites to be owned by blacks, per Civil Rights laws).
But I’m hopeful. If nothing else, everyone’s busy focusing on the economy so we’ll be focused on that for the next couple of years. That will be a major portion of his legacy, so we’ll be able to see how he does with that.
And again: I’m cautiously optomistic. Hopeful, to the point. Hopeful that history won’t go out of its way to repeat (or rhyme, for that matter).