Despite the media hype, there are a lot of people who believe that the wrong man won the election on Tuesday. At least 55 million people voted so. This does not mean that President-elect Obama’s victory is not genuine, but it reminds us that for all his sneering at the job done by President Bush, Barack the Beginner will be hard-pressed to do as well, much less keep all the promises he made in order to win the office. Take a look at the map, especially by county – Obama won the big cities and the coasts, but there’s a lot of America that did not want him and whose support he needs if he is to be effective.
This is not a slap at Obama, however. One reason the Bush Administration was less than effective at times, was that the same conditions existed in his terms. Almost sixty million voters wanted Kerry in 2004, and in 2000 the popular vote went for Gore. In those elections there were a lot of Americans who thought Bush was the wrong man. Look at Clinton, his 1992 election brought less support than Bush took in 2000, and Clinton’s 1996 re-election was weaker than Bush’s 2004 campaign, never making a clear majority either time, so the ‘we did not want him’ theme is even stronger in the Clinton years. Even in the Reagan years, folks sometimes forget that tens of millions of Americans voted for Carter, then Mondale. If the ‘Great Communicator’ could not sell his case to everyone, then no one could. It’s culture as much as politics, and personal ethics as much as public policy.
Barack Obama is about to find out that the real test is just beginning. It was one thing to run as a fresh face and a popular image; it’s something else to get the results he promised. Even with a democrat-controlled House and Senate, Obama may find out that his policies and proposals still run into obstacles (a lot of folks forget that Clinton’s Healthcare plan of 1993 was shot down by a democrat-run Congress). This happens because Congressmen and Senators do listen to their constituents, and an angry public is a powerful force.