Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Post-Election Analysis--Why Obama Won and Where Conversatives Go From Here

Barak Obama, the freshman senator from Illinois, tonight became the next president of the United States. The historic nature of this election cannot be overstated. Forty years after the death of Martin Luther King, the US has elected its first African-American president.

So why did Obama win? There are many reasons. First, this was the worst political environment for a political party (the Republican party) perhaps ever. President Bush is at a 27% approval rating. Ninety-two percent of Americans believe that the US is on the wrong track. We are fighting two wars, one of which (the Iraq war) has been hugely unpopular. We are in the midst of a recession. And the stock market has dropped 5000 points in the last month.

I believe that these factors made it virtually impossible for any Republican to win this year. McCain was probably the one Republican who actually would have had any kind of chance this year due to his "Maverick" reputation.

Obama worked with an extremely positive environment for him. He also helped himself in many ways. His team ran an excellent campaign. He was discipled as a candidate. And he was able to tap into the hopes and dreams of younger Americans.

As a student of culture, generations, and communication, I can say that Obama absolutely "speaks the language" of younger generations. It is not only what he says--talk of bringing people together, a positive message (yes we can, change you can believe in)--but how he says it. He comes across as thoughtful, carefully weighing different sides of any issue--a stark contrast to Bush's cowboy, shoot from the hip perception. He is respectful of his opponents, vowing to listen to them. And he speaks with humility. In his speech tonight he said that he would have false starts and make mistakes. Again, this is in stark contrast to Bush, who in a press interview could not or would not come up with a single mistake that he had made as president.

I say this not in support of Obama, but in explaining his appeal.

Conservatives are in disarray tonight, with the Republicans losing not only the presidency, but also incurring major losses in the Senate and the House. They can take solace in this only: that despite all of the things in favor of the Democrats this year, McCain still won 47% of the popular vote. This is still a center right country. Part of the reason McCain lost is that conservatives are actually upset with the Republican party. Bush, while strongly conservative culturally on social issues, proved to not be conservative at all on foreign policy or fiscal policy. The country seems to not necessarily rejected conservatism, but to have rejected Bush--his decision to go to war, his spending, and his perceived lack of reflection. It is very possible that if the stock market collapse had not occured in mid-September, McCain might have been able to squeak out a victory.

On the other hand, the Republican party faces serious challenges in the future. The US is becoming more and more diverse, as evidenced by not only the election of an African-American president, but also by his very diverse constituency. Meanwhile, the Republican party is overwhelmingly white and aging. Sarah Palin may be the future of the party, but there is no evidence that she has any appeal outside of the shrinking Republican base. Mitch McConnell, the senate minority leader from Kentucky who survived re-election, has the role of seeking to pick up the pieces of the Republican party. Republicans may still have 43-44 or so seats in the Senate, which means they still can filibuster some bills to provide a bit of a check on an absolute democratic agenda. But what does it mean to be a Republican today? This is the question for the Republican party.

In truth, I have no idea who we have just elected. Obama certainly speaks in a way that sounds very unifying and bi-partisan. However, his voting record is the most liberal in the Senate. He has so little history that this voting record is the only thing by which we can get a sense of how he would govern. With a Democratic Sentate and House, it is rather disconcerting to think what kind of legislation might be pushed through--legislation that would be far at odds with a center right nation.

The one real positive from this election that probably all sides can agree upon is this: electing an African-American for president is a good sign of racial progress in the US. Many are eager to put this issue behind us.

I am uneasy right now mostly because of the huge unknown concerning Obama. Will he govern center left and help heal some injustices of the past, or will he align with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and push through a far leftist agenda?

Whatever happens, we should pray for soon to be President Obama. He faces many challenges. And we should remember that our faith is in God, not presidents or Congress.

What should a Christian's response be to this election?


Professor said...

I believe a Christian's response should be to pray for the new President. In particular that he will make wise selections for his advisors and that he will make wise decisions. We should pray that he will be successful that he can help unify the country. And, I personally would hope he will be a check on the very liberal congress that he will have.

Kevin Brockus said...

James, your response was dead-on. This is a wakeup call for the Republican leaders and how they have abandoned their party base. I too believe that this election result was in rejection of Bush's policies more than it was accepting the socialist views of Obama. I hope President Obama has as much success in bringing peace to world as his platform promised. My prayers are for him to be a leader that listens to God and makes sound "central" decisions. As dissapointed as I am, I will give President Obama a chance as he asked for to earn my respect. May God Bless America as much as He has blessed my life and family.

James said...

Dad, it will be interesting to see who Barak's advisors will be. This too ia great unknown.

James said...


There are three planks of conservatism:

-social conservatism (moral issues)
-foreign policy conservatism (strong military, limited intervention in the world)
- fiscal conservatism (low taxes, low spending, limited government)

Bush held strongly to the first, and I appreciated his stance on moral issues. He largely abandoned conservative principles in foreign policy, adapting a "neo-conservatism" view, and did the same for fiscal policy, failing to veto a single appropriations bill. He also lost many conservatives (and the rest of the country) with Katrina, where, rightly or wrongly, the administration was perceived as incompetent and out of touch.

We should indeed pray for Obama and for our nation, and remember that we will transform the world not through politicians, but through being and sharing Christ to the world.

MattSmith said...
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MattSmith said...

Having voted for Obama, I can vouch for his ability to speak, how he speaks, and how he delivers it. When he speaks, it's inspiring.. it feels me with pride for my country, and his acceptance speech well, there was dust in the air, and something in my eye.

It was time for change, and as you said people aren't happy with the fact that Bush made the republican party look bad, perhaps. He got the brunt of a lot of peoples anger with the country, but I liked Bush.. he was a laid back guy that wasn't straight to the point. The kind of guy I'd watch the game with, apparently thats not what we need?

When it came to the election this year, I didn't really not like McCain, and if he had a different Vice Pres perhaps I would have voted for him. All the stuff that is coming out now about Palin is pretty much ruining her ability to run in 2012, which relieves me. She was frightening.

People need to realise though that Obama isn't going to be able to change the world alone, Congress is there to be the check/balance with the President.

I'm looking forward to the next 4 years, see how things go!

Oh, and Hi James!