For those who need it:
1. It was Obama who won, not necessarily the Democrats. Which is why, while the Democrats gained in both the House and the Senate, they don’t appear to be having the blow-out additions to their numbers some folks seemed to think would happen (note that at least a couple of Senate races are still in play). Which suggests, to me at least, that rather than the Democrats putting wind into Obama’s sails, they rode on his coattails. I think people who are under the impression the Democrats now have a mandate are misreading what happened yesterday. It’s Obama who has the mandate. The Democrats are along for the ride. Don’t think Obama, at least, isn’t aware of this. Which brings us to:
2. The United States did not become a deep blue paradise overnight. Fox News will not implode. Matt Drudge will not spontaneously combust. Rush Limbaugh will not choke on his own tongue. And aside from all those pleasant images, America is the same essentially purple-y place it was yesterday. If you need proof of that, please to see the results of Proposition 8 in California, which, alas, seems headed for a win, along with amendments and resolutions in other states intended to make sure same-sex marriage is illegal in those places. It would be tempting to imagine that this is a departing knife twist by religious and social conservatives before they start to tear at each other’s intestines (“I can’t have Sarah Palin but at least I can screw the gays”), but that’s delusional thinking. There are more pro-Obama, pro-Prop 8 (and etc) types out there than some folks are ready to admit. Which brings us to:
3. Obama will not give you everything you want, when you want it. Since Obama seems to have this crazy idea that he might want to be president of the whole damn country, I think he’s going to be small-c conservative in his battles, at least the early ones, and will likely stick to the economic issues that got him elected. Anyone who’s observed the man in the campaign who is also not totally high on crazy wing juice (either the right or left vintages) will note that Obama is a man of exceptionally practical strategies; one of those strategies is to lead people to where he wants to go by using the paths they like to go by. Per point 2, this means frustrating people who want to go off the beaten paths. Which brings us to:
4. Your next president is going to disappoint you. Barack Obama does not fart cinnamon-scented rainbows. He is not trailed by angels and unicorns. Reality does not reshape itself to his wishes. Dude’s a human being, and a politician, and he’s going to have to work with other human beings who are also politicians. Per point 2, some things you want him to do he won’t be able to do, and some of the things you want him to do he won’t want to do, so they won’t get done. He will make mistakes. He will make errors. He will be caught flat-footed from time to time. He will be challenged by antagonists, foreign and domestic, who will have an interest in seeing him faceplant. He will piss most people off. His approval rating will drop below 50%. He is going to disappoint you. Get used to the idea.
5. Last night’s election didn’t change the country; it offered a chance for the country to change. Which is something Obama himself pointed out last night, because he’s a smart man like that. He will effect some of that change through the power of the presidency, and through his relationship with Congress, but ultimately what will change things is whether people want change and are willing to work for it. Elections are the easy part, basically. Now comes the work. As the saying goes, you have been offered a country, if you can keep it. It’s up to you more than it’s up to your next president.