Congratulations to Barack Obama and the Democratic party on their convincing victory in this election. Here's to hoping you do a much, much better job than I expect you to.
My prediction? It all hangs on the Senate now. 41 seats means the more radical stuff... his tax plan, his health care plan, his environmental plan, and his foreign policy agenda, must be modified or they're dead on arrival. 40 seats? Then it'll be down to the media and the Democrats' own incompetence. Not a pretty picture.
I expect in the next few months a gush of hope and happiness not seen probably since Kennedy took office in 1960. It'll be one treacly special after another right up to the inauguration and just a little beyond. And hey, I'm more a student of history than I am a partisan, and because of that I will actually be quite proud that black children now have the South Lawn as their back yard. Dr. King's dream has come true.
But I'm also a realist, and I've watched this particular game played since the mid-70s. The media will turn on him first, because a happy and harmonious government doesn't sell, but a $500 haircut on the tarmac of LAX certainly does.
Then his own party will turn on him. Obama himself may be centrist, but his party absolutely is not. Their ecstasy will be their undoing, and they will immediately try to enact a whole raft of radical legislation the country quite plainly will not want.
And that's when the people will turn on him. Just as in '94, idealistic Americans who simply wanted change will suddenly realize these people really did mean what they said. They will realize the Democrats really are going to raise taxes, are going to go soft on defense, and are going to try socialized medicine and an expansion of the welfare state.
And that's where my side comes in. As it has in the past, this time in the wilderness will serve to strengthen and focus the Republican party. The party holding the White House always loses seats in off-year elections, so the Democrats' ability to genuinely screw things up will be curtailed in 2010, by how much will be largely determined by how badly they screw up in the two years previous. In the Clinton years, the Democrats were such utter f-ups they went from holding all the cards to being completely out of power at the next election, and this bunch promises to be much better at dropping it all in the pot than that bunch was.
Will it be that fast? If we can't hold them back in the Senate, it's a dead certainty, but the mess will be a lot bigger when we get there. If we are able to protect them from their worst excesses even a gradual erosion will be fine, because that'll mean a Republican president in 2012 will have a small, resentful, but not utterly intractable Democratic majority in Congress to deal with, and, if we must wait until 2016 that same Republican president will have a small, organized, and energized Republican majority with which to govern. Not too shabby, eh?
In a funny sort of way, I'm actually rather glad Obama made it. Had McCain won, the Democrats would've fallen much deeper into the radical left's grasp, and would most likely have paralyzed the country at precisely the time reasoned action is required. The desire for revenge would've simply overridden any real attempt to govern. 1948 - 1952 all over again, the Democrats only needing to find a single issue and their own McCarthy to run with it to truly unleash chaos.
Instead we'll get 6 months of obnoxious leftist gloating, perhaps two years of truly odious attempts to turn the US into New France, followed by our regular (and seemingly preferred) two-party gridlock to take us into the next Presidential cycle. Balancing this will be the fun we'll have watching patently naive people with a penchant for petulant chaos come to realize that it really is a lot more complicated than it looked from the outside, the country really wasn't held hostage by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, and we all by and large don't want what they think we do.