Now, I'm as excited about anybody else regarding this past week's election. It fills me with a hope for my country that I had long since abandoned. Not to pee all over this, but let's stop for a second and consider two things. (I consciously waited a few days before posting this. We needed to celebrate a bit. But here we are.) We're gettng seriously into glass-half-empty territory here, but these are important things to consider before we go all giddy.
Thing 1: The Bush Administration
This actually comes in two parts, Thing 1(a) and Thing 1(b).
Thing 1(a) is the existing legacy of these turdheads. The damage that they have done to, among other things, the environment, workers' rights, women's rights, science, separation of church and state, the judiciary, our infrastructure, confidence in government, our standing on the world stage, and, oh, our constitution is going to take the better part of Obama's first term (hey! optimism!) just to discover and unravel, let alone to fix.
And the judiciary can't be fixed unless one of the Supreme Court justices contracts a particularly virulent communicable disease, taking Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas down with them. Barring that, those guys aren't going anywhere for the foreseeable future. The best-case scenario is that Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens are replaced with justices who will be similar to them. Obama's win won't shift the court back to the left. It will only prevent it from moving farther to the right. And this also leaves out the lower courts, which decide what even gets to the Supremes. Their effect goes largely unseen by the general populace. Dozens of creeps on the level of Scalia have been planted there over the last eight years. They're not going anywhere either.
And restoring regulations to industry is going to take forever, and will be violently opposed by the coal, oil, gas, logging and nuclear industries. Good luck with that. We can't take back the unnecessary pollution that has already been spewed and will continue to be spewed while we struggle to return some common sense to our environmental policy. Or bring back the polar bears and other less-cuddly animules that are dying out due to global warming. Which brings me to Thing 1(b).
Thing 1(b) is the inescapable fact that these guys are still in power for another two months. They have plenty of time to make things even more difficult for Big O. All presidents sneak in last-minute regulations designed to tie the hands of the next administration, or at least to make them look bad by repealing them. Read this to find out what we're up against here. We won't even mention all of the pardons for themselves and their buddies for civil rights violations, torture, illegal wiretapping, lying to congress etc.
Thing 2: 52%-47%
This felt like a big victory because Obama won a vast majority of electoral college votes. And the rest of the world is overwhelmingly pro-Obama. (Except, uh, Al Qaeda.) If the entire global population were allowed to vote in our election, Obama probably would have received 75-85% of the vote. But right here, he got just over half. What the hell is wrong with us?
Obama will undoubtedly be able to restore world opinion of us to a respectable level. He already has, without even doing anything in an official capacity. But right here at home, we have advanced a little but we've still got a long way to go. We're still a bit racist. We're still a bit anti-intellectual. We're still a bit untrusting of anything that smacks of gummint control, even if it's really government assistance. We're still not quite bright enough to take accusations like "socialist" with a real understanding of what the terms mean and how they relate to historical reality.
Considering a) how badly John McCain ran his campaign, b) how badly Bush/Cheney and the Republican Party have run this country, c) that 80% of the country told pollsters that the country was heading in the wrong direction, d) how little McCain's policies differed from Bush's, and e) how unbelievably ill-equipped Sarah Palin was for the office, it's pretty pathetic that almost half of us still thought it would be better to elect the same party again.
The hope that I have after this historic election is tempered by the sad realization that we have not, in fact, come such a long way, baby. But maybe we can get there. I'm willing to try if you are. I'll end with the same line I ended with earlier this week, because it holds true no matter what.
Let's get to work.