inauguration enthusiasm: neutral

I can understand the feverish excitement of Obama’s inauguration, but like that whole Hudson River emergency plane landing (it's still not a miracle), it’s all a little overblown. Sure, Big O’s no Bush, and he’s no Republican. Hooray for that. But despite all the talk about “yes we can” and calling for an end to a culture of anything-goes, it remains to be seen to what extent he’ll walk the talk – and we already know he won’t walk Dennis Kucinich’s beat.

It’s like seeing a musician at concert. If he or she is a familiar name with a proven track record of good performances, we’ll clap our little hearts out. If it’s someone buzzy and new, unfamiliar, we’ll offer some polite applause but wait until he strums that guitar and sings a few bars before cranking up the enthusiasm.

The thing is, voters have more power than they realize, if only they’d exercise it. By not voting for politicians who screw up, for example. Take Ted Stevens: despite being convicted for making false statements in regards to a corruption scandal centered around his acceptance of bribes, people still voted for him. True, he’s had a long, popular career as Alaska’s senator, but shouldn’t the integrity of a political office trump the person holding that office? For a bigger example, look no further than voting for Bush a second time, or Congress’ refusal to launch impeachment investigations against Bush and Cheney. The reason politicians act with impunity is because, at the very least, voters keep rewarding them with more terms in office regardless of how well, how ethically, they perform their jobs.

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people,” says V in V for Vendetta. I’m not saying that politicians should have a Salmon Rushdie-with-a-fatwa kind of fear, but they should be aware that there are political consequences to the decisions they make on behalf of the people they are supposed to represent.

It could be argued that voting for Obama is just the kind of chastisement I’m talking about, but if people had been decisive and sensible in past votes, it wouldn’t be necessary to have an Obama to promise change. Of course, Obama’s nomination and win represents, to some extent, the need people seem to have to be led into change instead of embodying the change they want to see in the world. And with that, it remains to be seen whether Obama will truly live up to expectations I’m afraid have been overinflated. The higher the expectations, the harder the fall.


Nick said...

I'll have to agree with you here. I find the over optimistic idealism that is running rampant in the US is a bit much. The unfortunate part is that politics is a murky business and things are not all that easy. Even though the Republicans are not in office they still have several states and will cause problems no doubt. I doubt extremely that Obama will have an easy time of things. The real unfortunate thing here is that he's coming in at a very bad time and people are expecting a lot. I feel sorry for him in this regard. It's not easy being a popular president in hard times. Probably every little thing he does is going to be scrutinized under the media's microscope. That won't be easy, especially a president that hasn't got much of a track record behind him. Let's just see what happens.

Frederik Sisa said...

Obama certainly has major challenges ahead. It really hinges on whether "the peopl" will be willing to embody they change they see in him.

I'd like to be optimistic.