After many, many months of grueling campaigning this election is over. Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama. He ran a spectacular campaign from beginning to end. It's been said many other places but let me add that this is proud moment for America. Even though I didn't vote for him, I do take pride in the fact that my country has elected an African-American as its president. It's an accomplishment that we can all take pride in as Americans even if we didn't all vote for him.
A few other random thoughts about this election:
Senator John McCain ran a fine campaign. Sure, there will be plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking from the pundit class about things he should have done or not done. But the fact is that this was going to be a difficult year for Republicans and I seriously doubt that having anyone else at the top of the ticket could have done any better than he did. America would have been just as blessed to have such a patriot serving us as Commander in Chief.
McCain's choice of Governor Sarah Palin was a brilliant move. She energized the Republican base and in the process sealed a bright future for herself in the Republican party. No other Vice-Presidential nominee would have energized the base the way she did. It's a safe bet that the Republican ticket did as well as it did in large part because of what Governor Palin brought to the ticket.
While we are on the subject of the Governor, I don't think she should be in any hurry to run for national office. She would probably be better served to return to Alaska, run for re-election in 2 years and then consider her options.
President-elect Obama is our first post-modern president. By that I mean that he successfully tapped into people's emotions and won over people's hearts more so than their minds.
This was an election about style over substance. Obama has a tremendous presence and is an incredibly gifted speaker. But there was very little meat in terms of policy proposals in his campaign. Thus, it's not clear how he will govern.
Democrats will feel emboldened to enact a liberal legislative agenda. But the fact remains that America is still a center-right country. Obama himself understood this and positioned himself as a center-right candidate.
One of his first challenges will be how to rein in the excesses of a Congress controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Obama positioned himself as a centrist in the campaign even though he clearly holds very liberal views. Will he govern according to ideology or more pragmatically? Will he be able to find areas of agreement with Republicans?
He's also got the problem of extremely high expectations. People want change. They are worried about problems that the country faces. He's going to have to have some quick successes or the honeymoon may be over before it starts.
Even though I have opposed him during this campaign, my duty is to respect the person and the office. In addition, as a Christian, I need to pray for him. President-elect Obama has willingly taken on what is arguably the hardest and most thankless job in the world. Sure, we have our differences but I should still be praying for him and that God would grant him the wisdom each day to make the decisions that are best for the country.
Two issues from this election that warrant further investigation but likely won't get any attention: voter registration fraud (especially concerning ACORN) and campaign finance irregularities. Both are serious issues that need to be researched thoroughly not to blame anyone or try to indict either campaign but rather to determine what steps need to be taken to be sure the same problems don't arise in the future. The problem with election fraud is that it's a problem that doesn't get dealt with unless an election is perilously close (think Florida in 2000). Even the people who are supposed to be fixing the problem don't. Elections and the right to vote are important. We need to be doing more to make sure that elections are conducted in a fair manner.
A word to my fellow conservatives and Republicans: for eight years we have watched our President be viciously attacked like no other President before him. We need to be better than the opposition has been to us. Let's support President Obama where we agree. Let's disagree in a civil but enthusiastic manner on issues that we disagree on. Let's also choose carefully those issues we are willing to go to the mattresses on rather than reflexively opposing him. But most of all, let us remember that he is our President and worthy of the honor and respect of his position even if we don't feel he's qualified to be there. He's doing a difficult job and deserves our respect.
Finally, a word to the Obama supporters. Be careful about your expectations. At some point, he will likely disappoint you. Perhaps not at first. Perhaps not for some time. But at some point he will make a decision or do something that will disappoint you. It's only natural. After all, he is not a messiah. He is human being trying to do a very difficult job to the best of his ability. Be prepared to cut him a little slack.
The people are looking to the government to solve their problems. The fact is that government often is the problem rather than the solution. No one person is going to be able to make all of your problems magically go away. We still face great challenges. Our newly elected President will have to learn on the job because there is no other job that adequately prepares you to be Commander in Chief. He will no doubt make mistakes. Be willing to cut him some slack.
Now is a time for all of us to take a deep breath. Americans can be proud of their country. This is a historic election. There will be plenty of time to argue over policy and politics at a later date. But for now, I'm taking a break from politics. I'll be praying for our new president and our country. They both will need it in the days and weeks ahead.