Tomorrow starts today: the presidency of Barack Obama
I want to start off by saying that I generally vote Republican. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but by and large the GOP’s core beliefs are the ones that I believe are best suited for a prosperous, safe, capitalist society – the kind of society we Americans would like to live in, strictly speaking to conditions and quality of life. Indeed, I voted for John McCain yesterday, and was glad to do so. I believed in his stances of fiscal responsibility, firmness in our image abroad, government keeping its distance from business unless absolutely necessary, and the sanctity of life. Those are things I can feel good about getting behind.
As it happens, he is not to become the next President of the United States.
Barack Obama, then, the former senator from Illinois, will ascend into the White House on January 20th to become the 44th president of our nation. His story is history, and if for no other reason after the next four to eight years, we will remember him for that. Depending on who you ask, he will be the first biracial, or the first black president of our country. Either way you look at it, it is a tremendous step forward for the United States in terms of racial equality and perception.
But that is, of course, a non-issue in the greater scheme of things. That is not to say that what his achievement means to the issue of civil rights and race relations is to be diminished or trivialized in any way, far from it. Rather it is a credit both to him and to the nation, that instead of dwelling on what it means to have a man of African descent as Commander-in-Chief, the focus can instead be on what really matters. Restoring strength to the country’s economy, managing our military conflicts and the stabilization of the Middle East and western Asia, renewing America’s efforts toward energy independence and preparing the country to again take the lead in technological and scientific innovation.
What, then, can we hope to see from this man after he is inaugurated in the early days of 2009?
Unlike many Republicans and Republican-leaning centrists, I do not look at this as a portent of disaster ahead. Though, as Obama said in his acceptance speech, “there will be sacrifice.” Already I have seen damage done as a result of President-elect Obama’s stated policies, in this case the intent to raise the Capital Gains tax. A good friend of mine, a realtor, lost a number of his listings as clients decided not to pursue a real estate sale, knowing their net profit would not be worth the sale of their holdings. This mass drawback of listings may cost him his job. I suspect he isn’t the only realtor facing a similar issue tonight.
Yet, there are qualities that I do admire in our soon-to-be president, things that are worth emulating, things that are worth ensuring he follows up on. Obama has been an unusually tech-savvy candidate. In no other election have we had a candidate who is as informed on the issues that affect technology businesses in the way Obama is. Though President Bush has recently added a position to his administration to address the issue of copyright, certainly to the approval of the ESA, the RIAA, MPAA and other such organizations, it is the president-elect who has the right idea, or even espouses any idea at all, on such issues as network neutrality and the proliferation of broadband Internet connectivity.
He has also proposed significantly increased direct access to government officials, through the creation of weekly Internet-based ‘town hall’ meetings. While it is yet to be announced what technology this would utilize, whether audio and video options would be put to use or if simple IRC channels would be put into play remains to be seen, it’s a great idea that can hopefully be implemented effectively.
Moreover, Obama is the first presidential candidate – perhaps appropriately at this point in history – to leverage technology to unite his supporters and rally them. Some have called him the first Web 2.0 candidate. It’s certainly true that Barack Obama had a better website than John McCain, but Obama went a step further, utilizing SMS messages, and even the development of unique applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch devices. Without a doubt, this is the future of the political campaign. There will not be a viable candidate in the future who does not make use of these vital pieces of technology.
Obama has proposed, no, promised trillions of dollars in new spending on new programs. It is unavoidable, the money will have to come from somewhere. That ‘somewhere’ is the pocket of the American taxpayer – all of them. Despite his promises to the contrary, taxes will have to go up. These promises must be broken in order to fulfill his other ones. Promises of national health care, free money for college, funding for the arts and sciences. Everybody wants these things in some way, but the money must come from somewhere.
As a business owner, I am not as troubled as others may be. My company is structured as a C-corporation, so its income is not tied to my own. And I am okay with saying so publically, my income will not cross any of the thresholds Obama or his associates have stated would be the bar for a tax increase – or as they put it, a “restoration” to Clinton-era levels. (Which, after eight years of lowered taxes, is hard to take seriously as anything but an increase.) Though we all know by now, sole proprietors, limited partnerships and S-corporations will be fair game, and will suffer under Obama’s proposed tax policies.
I believe we will see a lot of incorporations before the end of 2008 as a result.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
After all, as patriotic as it is to pay more taxes, most Americans rightly know they are already patriotic enough, by that barometer.
It is important to note that we are not necessarily headed for a silver-lined Morning in America however, despite what Obama’s iconic logo would have us believe. Most states have elected Democratic representatives and senators, and indeed even on the federal level the Senate is only 60 Republican seats away from a filibuster-proof Democratic majority.
There is nobody who can rightly believe that uncontested power is good for a democratic nation. For the last two years, there has been a Democratic majority and it has been the least-approved of, least accomplished Congress in history. Many of the old players of our most recent boondoggles, vis a vis the housing market and the Freddie and Fannie flops, like Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank will still be around. Except now they’ll have even more support.
With a Democratic executive, a Democratic legislative, a likely-to-become Democratic judicial and many Democratic-leaning states, one wonders how our celebrated system of checks and balances will hold up in the years to come. This is an issue we must be vigilant about. Not for partisanship, not out of fear for what may come to pass that we disagree with, but more for the vital underpinnings of what makes our system of government work best, what enables us to enact such a smooth transition of power and that such a transition can even occur. For one ideology to rule utterly, that is no longer a democracy and it would behoove us to remain keenly aware of the fact.
Ultimately, we as Americans must take care to remember that the election season is over – we are no longer divided by the goal of the electorate, but are again bound by the indissoluable ties of nationality. Again we have but one overarching goal, and that is to improve and perfect our wonderous Union. Whether that be by improving our businesses, improving our relations with each other, improving our families or our communities, that is the goal we must now share.
If one might be inclined to shy away from this new president, let them at least embrace one thing: it is time to put away the pettiness of partisanship, so that we can work together toward a common goal. Should you not care for the man, at least respect the virtue his office. I think the man who will be president has espoused at least this one goal, of which we can all get behind with open minds and whole hearts.