Let me make something clear upfront. I am fully aware of, and appreciate the historic nature of this election. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember that more than a year ago I talked about the fact that the democrats were presenting, for the first time in our history, two candidates, either of whom, would make history. I also started to discuss my preference for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.
Nothing would make me happier than an 8 year Obama Presidency, hallmarked by social justice, Promotion of democracy and freedom around the world, and economic prosperity for all.
I desperately want not just a figure with historical significance, but an historic Presidency.
As a social liberal at heart, and an intellectual, it does my heart good to see someone who does not fumble the English language representing us at the international tables (one of my favorite things about Bill Clinton. He was just smarter than everyone).
But here is where I am different. Perhaps it is growing up in the most multicultural city in the world, perhaps it is my athletic background, or my own dating and friendship history.
But just as when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated by the Democrats as the first major party VP candidate, and I immediately criticized the choice, I never looked at Barack Obama as an African American. Rather I view him as simply someone that represents, on virtually all issues, (other than choice: my other 2 big social issues, I am anti death penalty and anti gun and Obama supports both of those – not to mention my overwhelming support for gay marriage which he opposes), different views than mine.
My last post was from eminent African American professor Shelby Steele. I could not be in more agreement with his thesis that the very idea of this as a “post racial” election, was a fiction. That in fact, race was pre eminent at all times. The supreme effort at NOT talking about it, made it just as much a factor as talking about it.
I wish that Obama could have celebrated his “blackness” at all times, but still reflected respect and admiration for all that America is. THEN, and only then, would it not be an issue.
As a Jew, I am very aware of the idea of feelings collective guilt, and the tendency good people have to feel it. That is one of the things that separates moral people from immoral.
Thus, my views on the election were always based on fundamentals. In fact, for much of my life, simply because I don’t see race, ethnicity or color, it can sometimes appear that I am insensitive to it. Just the opposite. I am just past it.
The relationships that went unexamined of Obama’s were not of concern to me b/c of the silly and pointless drivel that the Republicans tried to connect. Rather, it is that all of these people, from his past, to his present, represent EXACLTY the views that Obama currently represents, both economically, and with regard to foreign policy.
Fundamentally it is that America is a colonial, hegemonic power. The natural successor to the oppressive pre World War II powers of France and Britain. It is their view that we are, essentially, a force of bad in the world. That our involvement outside our borders is harmful to others, and the creation of the fiction that we are disliked.
The other view, the one I prescribe to, is that we are a force for good. That we have not only a moral and ethical responsibility to use the incredible good fortune we have here in the United States, but a moral DUTY to do so.
Like ALL nations, and governments, we make mistakes. It is a fact of life that the bigger the effort, the bigger the mistakes and failures will be. But the motivation that drives America has always been to let the rest of the world see the light that we all enjoy every day.
The language that someone like Obama uses will not be easy for most to follow. But you will hear over the next 4 years discussions of not imposing our view, not foisting our policies, etc.
The less subtle of his supporters will directly use the words hegemony and imperialist.
And it has started already.
I was watching an interview on CSPan today with a professor of American studies discussing classroom teachings in this country. The moderator (an author of a book on textbooks in elementary schools) was expounding on the fact that the texts used in schools do exactly this. Blame America and highlite, almost to the exclusion of all else, the mistakes of our pasts.
The professor said that they did not go far enough. That he wished they would more openly discuss the “American Empire”.
As a student of history, and politics, I cringed. Not only was this an immediate vocalization of my fears, but it is an absolute and total fiction.
On a more direct level, what this belief system translates to is that our support of Israel is the cause of our difficulties in the world. More directly, that resolving the Israeli- so called Palestinian issue, will end our conflict with the Muslim world.
Jimmy Carter certainly proved this a myth. But even the most basic knowledge of AL Qaeda and Bin Laden should demonstrate that Bin Laden’s argument with the US was that we “infidels” had our feet on the ground in Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holy land, during the first Gulf War. It had nothing to do with Israel. Like most, however, and because the Saudis supported our efforts against Sadaam, he adopted the languge, later of supporting his “Palestinian” brothers.
The next issue has to do with my concern over this election and what it means for the parties.
I have heard musing from Obama supporters that this election has brought the country together.
This is never surprising to hear from the winners.
Here is my view. I come from a long line of NY political thought. Socially liberal, and fiscally and foreign policy conservative (2 terms I despise). Let me rephrase. Socially progressive, and anti Keynesian (Obama and his team are Keynesian). I believe in an active, interventionist foreign policy. I am MUCH more socially liberal than Barack, and more interventionist than the Bushites.
This has a long tradition in this area. Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, Ed Koch, Robert Kennedy, George Pataki, current NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the new Hillary Clinton, Maria Cuomo, etc.
This “school” of politics was started by Teddy Roosevelt, my original political hero. Roosevelt, while recognizing the need not to punish business, also began the process of breaking the trusts (although it was his successors who actually did it). He was the ultimate conservationist, while being a hunter. And of course, he is famed for building the Panama Canal, but as Secretary of the Navy and beyond, he believed in extending American power around the world to promote peace.
This school of political thought is now dead in our major parties. My real hope for this election was that Bloomberg might run and use his billions to build a viable third party, a centrist party.
But what happened in the election is that ALL the moderate, centrist Republicans lost. It was not the bible thumping right wingers that got defeated; it was people like my neighbor in Connecticut, Christopher Shays, a true centrist, that lost. This continued the trend from the last election, where extremely talented centrists like Jim Talent from Missouri lost. If Al Franken ends up defeating Norm Coleman in Minnesota, that will effectively mean the ONLY centrists left will be John McCain and Joe Lieberman.
Yes, McCain was, and is, a centrist. Both Lieberman and McCain were protégés of Henry “Scoop” Jackson, perhaps the model for this school of political ideology in the post war period.
Jackson was a so called conservative Democrat from Washington and my other great political hero.
But by painting McCain as another Bush, something so patently offensive and such a lie, that the democrats are now saying literally “we need John McCain’s help because he is the one true bipartisan left”!!!!, they have now made us MORE, not less, polarized.
The Republican party most likely will take this as a message that, like when Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, giving birth to Ronald Reagan (before Obama the President I most disagreed with, but whom I did not think was dangerous) they need to move, once again, far right. That is why you are now hearing the talk of Sarah Palin being the flag waver for the party.
My dream election would have been between Giuliani and Hillary: Two centrists whose views are so close, that it would have FORCED a close examination of the issues, not the lies of this campaign.
Obama is by far, the most left wing candidate this country has ever elected. And much to my fear, his first appointment, Rahm Emanuel, is a clear signal that the idea of bipartisanship, which he spent so much time discussing early, and then threw out, is now gone. Emanuel was Clinton’s most consistent and harsh, hard driving, left wing ideologue. More on him below.
As a note, you are seeing the Keynesian theories already being put into place. I dread, as I have written about in the past, the move toward socialistic control that the last rescue package contained, but now, we are hearing about “stimulus” packages.
As every example of this type of economics has proven, from the failure of the “New Deal;” to the socialist movements around the world, it NEVER works.
My next set of thoughts. Something that will be truly hard for most of you to appreciate. Focusing on Rahm Emanuel and what he means. I received numerous emails, and calls, from my non Jewish friends and commenters that I should be gratified that Emanuel was offered the chief of staff job. Why? Because he’s a Jew. Imagine saying that to a woman, a black, Puerto Rican, etc.
I would never say this directly, but none of those people even understood the blatant bigotry of this statement.
What this election proved is that racism is largely overblown (don’t get me wrong, I see it every day, in the treatment of my friends, but ultimately big picture, we have trusted the country to an African American), but to me, as I have always felt, anti Semitism continues to be a bigger issue. The idea that because Emanuel is a Jew, it means anything other than that Obama appointed the man who almost singlehandedly brought the Democrats back from oblivion and is the most powerful fundraising force they have in the House, is absurd.
Worse, for me, is that he was one of the chief, if not the Chief, architect of Clinton’s Oslo Accords, which came closer to destroying the state of Israel than any war in its’ 60 year history. By insisting that the Israelis arm Arafat and the newly created Palestinian Authority, without understanding that Arafat planned all along to use those weapons against Israel, he unleashed the horrors of the daily attacks in the 1990’s. It was not until Ariel Sharon was elected and Israeli’s gave up on Oslo that safety returned to Israel.
And we are already hearing the discussions of “pressuring” Israel to make these same concessions. As a result, it is now very likely that the Israeli’s will elect the right wing, Benjamin Netanyahu. My fear for the continuity of the Israel is at an all time high.
Obama and his people believe that Israel must be dissected down it’s middle to provide a contiguous Palestinian state. If anything tells you the views they hold, that should be it. The Israelis can be divided north and south, but not the Palestinians. They also believe the Golan Heights must be returned to Syria. The area that has been used as a staging ground for rocket attacks on Israel in every war. This is why the current indicted Prime Minister of Israel was at 2% popularity. Because he was actually entertaining this idea.
What most don’t understand is the two way nature of the Israeli/American relationship. The technology and training we receive from those on the front lines of the war on terror.
Finally, in what is a bizarre twist, this election means that we now have a government that will be, for the first time since WWII, politically left of the governments in France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and after the next elections, England.