Effect Measure

One door closes, another one opens

The US election is over. Now comes the battle over what it means. The right wing of the Democratic Party aside, it seems pretty clear this was one of the periodic “realignment” elections that are of historic significance. Obama’s base, overwhelmingly the progressive heart of the Democratic Party, is a powerful coalition of the younger generation, racial and ethnic “minorities” (each probably constituting larger voting blocks than the right wing linchpin of white evangelicals), GLBT groups, women, young professionals, those deeply concerned about the environment, traditional Democratic progressives. The hallmark of the Obama campaign’s appeal — the thing that cuts across these groups — is not its different messages to each group. On the contrary, it is the idea that we are all more alike than we are different. It is not the diversity of the base but the underlying idea of its unity that strikes a chord. As significant as the success of that message is the failure of the McCain-right wing message that tried to set one part of the country against another, one member of the community against another.

Election success is a complicated and fickle beast, a hostage to fortune. In this election cycle the economic meltdown was the external contingency that have crystalized Obama’s support. But it is his prescription for exiting the long term crisis of energy and economy that resonates with both the base and beyond: an economy based on green-collar jobs, where the economics of energy independence merge with a deep desire for a cleaner and safer world. This isn’t just an economic policy. It is economic change. It is not Obama’s victory but the victory of Obama’s base and a sharp rejection of three decades of destructive conservative ideology.

That base — young voters, women, African-American voters, Latino voters, the GBLT community, young professionals, environmentalists, progressive Democrats — they are the engine that propelled Obama’s campaign and he understood and took advantage of it. It provided the energy, dedication and motivation in every state and city and rural hamlet. It was not just the superb campaign organization (organization that wouldn’t have happened or succeeded without the skyhigh motivation of the base), but the inherent energy of the millions of volunteers and active supporters of the campaign that went into it. That wasn’t just because of Obama, but because of what Obama represented — rejection of Nixon/Reagan/Bush ideology and its vile divisive tactics to maintain power; and embrace of an inclusive, welcoming and hopeful determination to start building a better world and construct a new economy, a green economy, with new kinds of jobs in new industries everyone can be proud of and jobs that will benefit everyone. Obama’s base is a green-collar unity coalition.

It’s eight horrible years late, but our country is finally entering the twenty first century, putting the twentieth century behind us, a historic relic. The election of an African American to the Presidency is a signal that race is finally withering as a cancer that divided us one from another. Yes, there’s plenty of racism left in this country, but this is a watershed moment. The new coalition that has spoken in this election is young and will be around for a while. It needs to develop and grow and evolve. There is no guarantee or even likelihood it will do so in lockstep with the Obama administration or the hidebound Democratic leadership in the Congress. If it does its job it will become a constructive and helpful loyal opposition instead of the obedient lapdog the Republican base became (obedient except when it acted like a spoiled child insisting on getting its way, no matter how selfish and self righteous that way was).

So the election is over. Now the real work begins. But what happy work!

Comments

  1. #1 NM
    November 5, 2008

    There’s a lot of talk about new epochs and the like.

    But having lived in a few actual representative democracies (i.e. not the USA) the odd thing is this. Despite the corruption, war mongering and incompetance of the US republican party in the past eight years the swing against the republicans was only 2%. 47% still voted for the bastards compared with 49% last time (from memory).

    Seriously, what does it take?

  2. #2 MoM
    November 5, 2008

    Trust for America’s Health has posted a “Blueprint” for modernizing Public Health in the Transition. Look here:
    http://healthyamericans.org/report/55/blueprint-for-healthier-america

  3. #3 Alex Palazzo
    November 5, 2008

    Rahm Emanuel was picked as Obama’s chief of staff. Emanuel is part of the DLC and supported the war. I’m not happy.

  4. #4 revere
    November 5, 2008

    Alex: I join yo9u in finding Rahm despicable. However I am more optimistic. He was formerly in the WH in the Clinton admin. and knows the Congress. The CoS doesn’t make policy. I take this as a signal that Obama wants to work with, rather than independently or against, the Congress. We shall see.

  5. #5 Arikia
    November 5, 2008

    This is a beautiful essay, Revere. I am looking forward to doing happy work.

  6. #6 JJackson
    November 6, 2008

    I too have a problem with Emanuel but on the foreign policy side. I fear the American War of Terror can not be rolled back unless some of the underlying injustices of the Israeli/Palestinian situation are addressed. These can not be tackled with without a more balanced US position and I do not see that as possible with Rahm as Chief of Staff.

  7. #7 revere
    November 6, 2008

    JJ: I think it depends on how much he will be involved in policy (not the usual CoS role). Obama’s positions haven’t been sterling, either. We’ll have to wait and see. In general, I don’t think there is cause for optimism on any US position, which has been uniformly bad, historically.

  8. #8 M. Randolph Kruger
    November 6, 2008

    What an Obama Presidency means to you-Destruction of Detroit. President Obama by the single stroke of a misguided but well intentioned pen could destroy one major city reeling from the effects of the economy and of course the automotive industry. But how does it happen? It first goes to the idea that the US and Global Warming are hand in hand and that the global warming people are right about what the causes are.

    Amazing since the temps in the N. Hemisphere have been dropping and in the S. Hemisphere they are absolutely much colder. So it’s the buy in to the idea of GW that starts this ball into motion. Air pollution is the cause and its got to be them sunsabitches in the US that are dirtying the air. Nice considering that we don’t have steel mills for the better part…they left, cars that are cleaner than ever…. most components made somewhere else…, and even the nice little Prius’s are floating around now. What? If its not those then its got to be those coal fired power plants that provide 85% of the power for most of the country. Those plants most of them have been around since before the seventies and emitting the same amounts with or without the scrubbers on them for years. Nope, got to be those powerplants. So close them down? We have to use those because those same environmentalists don’t want nukes either. No mention that the refineries could produce more fuel if they were allowed to rebuild from a single barrel of oil, and those coal fired plants could up their power production if they too were allowed to rebuild and get cleaner too.

    Solar power and wind… Yep, that’s the ticket and there can be no other answers. Urps! So with all of that now what we need is another tax for yet more “alternative energy sources” which will never appear… Just as they did in the seventies and didnt with President Carter and his administration. We got a huge load of regulations, no energy and a place for Congress to steal money from for entitlements and other keep me in office projects. No energy though. Couple of dozen wind farms, little geothermal, and solar arrays that eat up the landscape. Even the environmentalists now acknowledge that there isn’t a landscape big enough to do what we want to do for those two industries. Indeed the costs far outweigh the gains. Subsidies….

    The US has for years cut, cut and cut emissions standards and the air gets dirtier, dirtier and dirtier. So the problem has to lie somewhere else and the environmentalists simply ignore the fact that the Chinese are the cause. We happily regulated our industrial base out of this country since the seventies and they moved to Asia where there are no regulations. But, our brain children have come up with Kyoto and other measures to get US to quit polluting and totally ignored everyone else. It turned into a superpower bash and a way to knock us off of our seat of power… Notice what has happened lately in the economy? Might it be because we were in decline for the last 8 years. This is not because of a President, its because of regulations and in a few cases-deregulation.

    I guarantee, that no one has said squat to the Russians about their industries. Cant find more than a few articles on it. But that’s okay, think globally and act locally. In the US, we have finally killed off our industrial base and our services industries are not servicing anyone. It was going anyway but forget Freddie and Fannie… It was the oil cost that did us in, finally overpriced itself out of business and the plunge began. Now they want to tax that industry and they will pass it right on down to us…more cost of doing business. This is their tax on the middle class that the Obama Nation will tell you that you aren’t going to pay. Lets whack on another 15 cents to drive down consumption and come up with those alternative fuels and energy. But you wont have a job and you wont have a car so it doesnt matter.

    But, the issue is automotives and transportation. The US rose to great power as the Romans did because we were able to first build roads like them, and then put cars on it that gave everyone the freedom to move on out and away from the cities. Commuting under a then 23 cent a gallon cost basis was cheap, and very easy and gave people the ability to get out of the city problems and we created the burbs. California last year decided that they were going to take the bull by the horns on air pollution and mileage standards assuming that they were a tit for tat. Better gas mileage meant less pollution? Not really. They want a vehicle to be able to go 44 miles on a gallon of gas. Nice, but the technology doesn’t exist and even if it did you would find yourself in a plywood laminate, aluminum and fiberglass box that might be able to make 45 or so mph. Mass transit in California? Environmental goat rope is what that is. One group wants the air cleaner, and bio box cars but mass transit which might make it better cant put down one foot of rail track because it goes through environmentally sensitive areas or worse, seismically unstable ones. In other words you would be by decree in a tiny little vehicle and traveling with vehicles that could and would easily crush you if implemented.

    If anyone tells you that by hybrid, electric, man in the moon technology that a 44 mpg car could be built he’d be lying. The Prius might come close at 35 mpg in the city (if you were actually moving in the city traffic) but you wouldn’t want to drive it and the cost is astronomical for most people. Doesn’t matter, it’s a given that under the Obama Nation what are we going to do is provide nanny government cars for people too or a subsidy. But that’s if it were available.

    The EPA overruled California in its attempt to set this 44 mpg standard. In fact moronic states and their leadership said that they wanted to sign on for it too. All well intentioned and if you got something then pony it up and lets make it happen, let us let California establish the mileage standards for their sold in state cars.

    Well, okay but no one would put a car dealership into California because the cars don’t and wont exist on gasoline technology. Electric? Great idea to plug in some 1 million rectifier equipped cars in California all at once on an already strained power grid. But why do that at all? All of the dealerships would be in Nevada. You can buy a car somewhere else and move it right into your driveway.

    The Obama Nation is going to revisit this for sure and reasonable people make reasonable decisions and if he goes Clinton on the Issue, then he will sign the paper and destroy Detroit in an afternoon. The community organizer is going to have to go up against the most powerful lobbies in the US and this is one of them and the implications are large. Screw this one up and he will find out that just under one half of the country did NOT vote for Obama. That will reflect in year two as the mid term elections come into play. I don’t think that he is stupid enough to say that he, like Clinton received a mandate from the people. He will receive a mandate from an electoral college vote that is impending that says he was elected President but thats it.

    If President Obama draws the ink that signs into legislation the California standard or even the right to do it then he will finish his Presidency before the ink is dry. Having been to Detroit in the last month I can tell you that on every street and even in the affluent areas there are more than one house up for sale and in some cases in “affordable housing” there are for sale signs and boards up on the windows. Hundreds of them and it wasn’t Bush, Clinton, Bush or even Reagan that did it. We have simply out priced ourselves in the failed globalization of the world economy.
    The high drama of this may just be getting started. Based on the California standards, light trucks will have to be able to achieve 50 mpg in 2020 and heavy trucks 35.2. None of these things will look like the cars of today and they’ll cost 20,000 or more than they do now and thus destroy the industry that would make them. Even the vaunted Toyota people say that they cant and wont be able to meet even another 5 miles per gallon even on the hybrid technology. Something else has to come down the road and as previously stated… the R&D departments at nearly all of the car companies were terminated about 8 months ago. Nothing in the pipeline and no way to meet the standards, and more no money now to even try.

    So the Obama Nation and its President is now going to have to make decisions and with literally the ink on a small piece of paper, another 2 million could go out of work and permanently and another estimated 8 million behind that in the support functions to that industry. But don’t worry, you as a working person have a 500,000 dollar bill because the deficits are at a total of 53 trillion. You will have 12 non working Americans (retirees) to feed, house, clothe and provide healthcare for in 5 years. And lets not forget the people at the bottom because to do so is unpatriotic and selfish when you don’t want to have government tell you that the money in your pocket belongs to someone else. If you think I am biased about this then you would be correct. Obama is now the President of the United States and the leader of the free world… That latter part is fleeting and are words on a piece of paper.

  9. #9 Lea
    November 6, 2008

    The euphoric emotions will begin to fade MRK as voters begin to realize that O cannot possibly deliver the change we need. And that change is very different to each and every person.

    It amazes me and still has me wondering how in the heck O got Nevada. Reason being is that Nevada is in the process of, or already has put in three new coal fired plants.
    Nevada is even labeled as a Tipping Point State at one political site.
    Clark County which is Las Vegas territory went big time for this guy. I’m still mystified and most certainly time will reveal the real reasons behind this.

  10. #10 A.
    November 7, 2008

    They want a vehicle to be able to go 44 miles on a gallon of gas. Nice, but the technology doesn’t exist…If anyone tells you that by hybrid, electric, man in the moon technology that a 44 mpg car could be built he’d be lying.

    What on earth are you talking about? My old Toyota would regularly get close to 40 mpg on the highway, and it was neither a hybrid nor a compact — just a normal sedan, albeit with stick shift (which helps). You can’t make a 44 mpg Hummer, but you can sure as hell make a 44 mpg hybrid.

  11. #11 Ann
    November 7, 2008

    I agree with you A. I had a Ford Probe that got 44 miles to the gallon on the interstate as long as I kept it to 70mph or less. Of course in town was lower but the car was GREAT.