At about 5:00 in the afternoon of the 2008 election, I told my wife I either could go to the basement and smoke a cigar (where I have an air purifier to dissipate the smoke from my Churchill) and come up for the returns, or wait until 7:00 or so and (maybe) be too hammered to appreciate several things, amongst them the outcome of the vote. She told me to enjoy my cigar.
The cigar took about two hours to smoke. I walked into the living room as the first states’ tallies were reported. Obama had won Vermont. McCain had won Kentucky. Then local early returns were reported for counties in Indiana. Obama (as I recall) was 50-50 in Fulton County (Rochester) and was predicted to win Howard (Kokomo). I told Sarah I knew we had won. After eight years of idiocy in the White House, finally we had an intelligent, left-leaning president.
Or so I thought.
I do not doubt President Obama is smart, a contrast to his predecessor in the Oval Office. But he abandoned the principles many of us thought he embraced. He has been a disappointment to those of us with more progressive views.
1) He had a majority in both houses of Congress. He should have pushed reforms. He did not. We were left with the Bush tax cuts, two undeclared wars, and detainees held without charges or trial dates in an open Guantanamo.
2) He now tries to negotiate the budget with people (the Teabag Republicans) who have no intention of negotiating anything. He wants to put things on the table for cuts (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) that polls show a significant majority of the people oppose cutting. In order to do what? Mollify a strident band of a minority of people who talk populism but are funded by billionaires?
I celebrated on that night in November, 2008. I thought, more than having dodged a major bullet, we would have rational and progressive change.
Instead, we have our government held hostage by people in a minority who hold such beliefs as: the Earth is 10,000, years old (or less, depending upon one’s read of a religious tract); evolution only is a "theory" (as antibiotics fail because the organisms they target evolve and adapt); if you make the rich richer, the rest of us will benefit (like, we did not learn the folly of that view over the past 30 years?), and Armageddon is good.
Leading Republicans have bemoaned their lack of a "serious" candidate. I think we on the left have been left in the dust, although our views resonate more deeply.
I believe in good, public education. I believe we should build a solid infrastructure—and I would include educated people as amongst the elements of such an infrastructure. I believe in a strong defense—but not one literally or figuratively on steroids. Those are jst a few issues I would name.
The best things I can say, this morning, about the 2008 election results are: 1) Sarah Palin is not a heart-beat away from the presidency; 2) I am not embarrassed when I hear the President of the United States speak in public (as I was 2001-09); and 3) Two Supreme Court justices are on the Court who are qualified and offset, to a degree, the rightward tilt of the Roberts Court.
Otherwise, the 2008 results were a disappointment. Where is that Perceval who will pick up a lance to defend our values? Oh, I forgot—the PACs buy the politicians and the PACs with money are funded by corporations. Thank you, "Citizens United."