Friday, October 24, 2008

After the US Elections

If the media polls are to be believed, Barack Obama has already won the US presidency; the elections on November 4 will be mere confirmation of the fact. After all, how can Mr. Obama lose? He's been proclaimed, exalted, and anointed. His main opponent has largely run a plodding campaign. Even the circumstances, dire as they are, are working in his favor.

There are two things that interest me now, the first of which is: how long will his honeymoon in the public eye last?

There's no question that's what's propelled Mr. Obama to these heights is his fiery charisma. It's a charisma that shines in public oratory, that fires up the legions of supporters. It's a charisma that's crushed the formidable Clintons; it looks set to do the same to the beleaguered Mr. McCain.

But how far will this charisma serve in front of America and the world in the next four years? Oratory is fine when you're whipping up the crowds, not so much when you're breaking bad news or announcing hard policy (and there'll be a lot of that in the coming years.) This is the flip side to Mr. Obama's personality, a character of supreme overconfidence that borders on condescension. Will you be able to bear up to this? You better be, because you're going to see a lot of it over the next four years.

And there's the message of Change, so often repeated as to become a mantra. Has anyone asked what it actually means? A Change from the Republicans, a Change from Bush, that much is obvious. But beyond that, what? What specifics in the message of Change can American voters actually articulate? Certainly, George W. Bush's presidency has been the most disastrous run in recent history, but a simple reversal of policies is no guarantee for nirvana.

Rhetoric aside, it's hard to see how much Change the next president will actually be able to effect. There are systemic constraints so deeply embedded in the complex machinery of the world's political economy. Any changes will have to be made within the context of such a system. Will there be changes? Of course! After eight years of Bush, there need to be; but this imperative applies to the next president, whoever that may be. It will hardly be the Change -- whatever it is -- that Mr. Obama promises.

As it is, though, it seems that the world is in love with Mr. Obama. Which leads to the second question of interest: what if he loses?


  1. This from ibdeditorials
    "McCain has cut into Obama's lead for a second day and is now just 1.1 points behind. The spread was 3.7 Wednesday and 6.0 Tuesday. The Republican is making headway with middle- and working- class voters, and has surged 10 points in two days among those earning between $30,000 and $75,000. He has also gone from an 11-point deficit to a 9-point lead among Catholics."
    Judging from what I see on a grassroots level, McCain has much more support here in Georgia. Of course, it's all a matter of Electoral College votes and I don't have first hand evidence from outside the southeastern US.
    My gut feeling is that Big Media is misjudging the average Joe & Josephine and we could see a big surprise Nov. 5th

  2. I'm guessing the same way, Bob, that Nov. 5 might spring a surprise for media and the Democrats. I'm wondering how they'll take it if it does happen.

  3. Ignore National Polls, State level polls probably reflects the state of the candidates with better accuracy.

    It would seem the traditional media honeymoon is 100 days, give or take a crisis or major blunders.

    - hch

  4. What if Obama loses?
    We'll have cries of how the Republicans stole the election just like 2000 and 2004.
    Will there be riots? Probably not.....but there will certainly be demonstrations.

  5. Arrghh. The suspense is killing me. I want it to be November 7 already. Personally, I think this poll mania is way overdone and over-focused on. -_-

  6. @Robert: in the Philippines, they'd call the polls "trending."

    @Ness: he he, mura ug telenovela, no?