I’m a fairly conservative guy. I’d say the best read on me politically would be Libertarian – though I think the libertarians have missed the mark on a few things. Still, it goes without saying that I’m not the type of guy you would expect to be amped up with hope during the presidency of a fairly radical liberal like Barack Obama. Having said that, there are two points in particular that I find hopeful about an Obama presidency.
First, it could prove to be quite helpful for race relations in America. People have pointed out to me that racial tensions are actually greater now in some instances. This may be, but my view is more “long term”. (Note, I’m not the first to write about this topic; others in the blogosphere have certainly picked it up.) Before John Kennedy was elected, catholics were an extremely marginalized demographic, voting heavily with one party (democrat). After his election, catholics became mainstream. Sure, it may have taken a few years for that to be the case, but the marginalization was broken and the way was paved.
To a lesser extent the same was true with southerners and Jimmy Carter. Southerners were heavily democratic (the old dixie-crats) and extremely marginalized. After Carter, southerners became more mainstream in their political thought – even voting more heavily Republican these days.
These instances remind me of an anecdote from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” where Steven Covey discusses his daughter’s inability to share toys. He says she wasn’t able to share because she hadn’t yet felt ownership. They were not yet her’s to share, even though they belonged to her in ever possible sense. Pre-Kennedy, catholics couldn’t function in a politically mainstream fashion – they didn’t yet feel welcomed as a part of the mainstream. The same for southerners and Carter. (Heck, when Vince Dooley and the Georgia Bulldogs won at Michigan 15-7 in 1965, he was welcomed back to the south as a hero for gaining redemption after the CIVIL WAR! It was 100 years later – talk about being pretty heavily marginalized over something in your past.)
In terms of political marginalization, it’s hard to argue against the notion that African-Americans have the market cornered. It’s been a long slog with a lot of bumps (to put it mildly) in the road. (Apologies to the native americans, we’ll pick up your cause later.) The election of Barack Obama could finally produce “ownership” and feeling “a part” of the country – finally shedding any notion (even if just perceived) of 2nd class citizenship. This will be a good thing – and it is cause for hope.
The second point is much more self-serving. Barack Obama has stated very clearly his support for a playoff in Division I-A college football. This is desperately needed as the current system is a farce and a travesty of justice, not to mention being much less palatable to the fans. Think of all the good games we don’t get to watch because there just is no playoff.
So cheer up my conservative and libertarian friends. There is cause for hope. Of course, other than those two, I don’t see a whole lot to cheer about. But, I think it best to stick with silver linings for now.