Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thoughts on what's ahead...

So Barack Obama is the new president. Some people are really happy, some scared, some angry. What does it mean for the future? Here are some of my thoughts on what this event might mean in the next few years.

(For the record, I did well with my predictions this time. On January 3 I predicted that Obama and probably McCain would be the candidates, and that Obama would win. Drury must be rubbing off on me. :-) Those of you who have found my recent ventures into politics painful will be happy to know that I'll largely be taking my thoughts on those issues off this air and back to my lesser known non-biblioblog.

1. This signals something really big in American race relations. For African-Americans, it ushers an age where equality will surely now be something more than just talk. It has often just been talk.

Michelle Obama got flack for saying that for the first time she was proud of her country. But I understood what she was saying. There is much that we should rightly be ashamed of as a nation when it comes to the way African-Americans have been treated in the past. Those older people who are foolishly afraid of racial payback are thereby interestingly admitting the injustices of the past.

On the other side, this will do something to the latent racism that came out in the course of the election. Obama will give them nothing to fear. His even handedness will forever change the issue. To see Jesse Jackson and Oprah crying is to realize how good a thing this is. Just perhaps, Obama will prove to be a "peace child" in American race relations, the dawning of a new era in this respect.

2. Whatever you think of Obama's politics, we have instantaneously regained great honor in the world. You may think they are wrong, but the world will take this vote as a return to sanity in the U.S., a return to honor. Bush has seemed to the world a cowboy who liked to shoot his gun off any which way. The world found him very scary in the way you act carefully around a 300 pound bully who hasn't been taking his meds.

Bush talked a lot about American ideals, but to the world he seemed simply to reinforce the idea that might makes right. Whatever you think of Obama's ideas, the world over night has become more open to listening to the U.S. again. Peace has a much greater chance in the world than it did 24 hours ago. It is possible once again for the world to think of us as its friend.

3. I predict that the Republican party will redefine itself. Palin may run next election, but she will be eliminated early--very early. The days in which the Dobson half of evangelicalism hold power in the Republican party are over, I predict. An increasing number of evangelicals will now vote Democrat following the lead of Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren. Evangelicals from this point out will no longer line up neatly to one party. From now on the evangelical vote will be split.

The Republican party these last 8 years has split into several very different factions--the economic conservatives, the religious conservatives, and the moderates. The Republicans lost this election because the moderates voted for Obama. Ironically, McCain got the nomination precisely because he was a moderate, much to the chagrin of the economic and religious conservatives in the party. Palin, although good for the short term game, may have ended up causing McCain the election.

The economic conservatives in the party feel like the party has pandered to ignorance. They are smart and more than clever enough to take back control of the party. They have played nice nice with religious conservatives when they thought they could help them get elected. And they have done so without having to change anything--only talk about issues like abortion. They're about to take control (don't be looking for Huckabee to go far in the next election either).

3. Evangelicals will reassess their strategy. The "shove God's law down their throat" approach has not won any converts and has generally failed. Ironically, the gay marriage amendment in California has allowed full civil rights for gay partners to the full extent of the law in its quest to ban calling such unions a "marriage." Although I doubt they feel this way, it is probably more a concrete success for the gay community of California than for those who were using it to vent on something they ultimately have no control over.

Evangelicals have thus got all they will ever get politically, apart from winning over hearts and minds to their positions. This is it. So that means a strategy change. I personally suggest they might try the Christian approach for a change--the "influence" approach that leads by example and persuasion rather than by force. The Crusades/hack them to pieces approach hasn't worked really well.

4. We are about to see some changes. I'm guessing we'll like some and hate others. Our grandchildren may unknowingly like some of them more than we will. I think good things are going to happen with the American health care system. I think in the next 8 years we're going to see social security, Medicare, and Medicade get fixed. I think we're about to see a resurgence of science and the arts and real improvement to the American education system.

I predict that history will consider the last 8 years a temporary aberration in a the history of a great nation. 9-11 and the economic crisis will take their place as a dark challenge to which the nation arose. But what came after will be all the better for it. That's at least what I'm predicting. In four years I'll check my report card.

17 comments:

Keith Drury said...

I agree that this election changes a lot for Republicans but also the church.

In the final National Exit Polls date the evangelical vote was not uni-party.

By dropping out all African-American evangelicals and dropping out al Catholic voters who call themselves "Evangelicals" and taking only White Protestant Born-Again/Evangelicals a full 26% voted for Obama... one out of four.

In my opinion yesterday's voting has already changed the recent evangelical assumption that only one party has the evangelical vote.

Mark Schnell said...

Good post Ken.

Except when I read this, I said, "Whaaaat?" ;-)

"To see Jesse Jackson and Oprah crying is to realize how good a thing this is."

Now maybe Oprah will have the opportunity to make some money and have good living. He, he, he!

I'm just messin' with ya'. I know what you meant. It was just funny to me.

Ken Schenck said...

:-)

What I meant is you didn't see the Black Panthers shooting guns up in the air plotting to get their revenge on the white oppressors.

Just a note, Obama's victory speech sounded nothing like a Jeremiah Wright sermon.

Thanks for your kindness, Mark.

Dave Smith said...

Ken,

In this election you have been "prophetic". Your voice is not one of the pundits based upon the volume of thier voices but rather based upon substance and thoughful reflection.
In that case, you are quite "Drury-like"; a complement of the highest order.

Ken Schenck said...

That means a great deal to me Dave, coming from you. Thank you.

Jonathan Parsons said...

It's funny you should mention the Black Panthers, because I heard one commentator for a conservative news organization talk about how afraid she was that there would be chaos in the streets--particularly in Philadelphia--if Obama won the election. She even went so far as to day "these people."

Craig Moore said...

With Liberal Democrats running things in DC, can you say "Jimmy Carter?" You can't be serious about Democrats "fixing" Social Security, Medicare etc! I predict high unemployment, inflation, energy shortages, economic stagnation and emboldened terrorists. It will be interesting to see how our predictions compare with reality 4 years from now.

Ken Schenck said...

You could be right Craig and I'll very publicly say so if that's the way it plays out. I potentially good (and I recognize also potentially scary) sign is that Obama doesn't plan to fill the cabinet with Democrats from previous administrations. I'm actually expecting him to put a Republican or two on his cabinet.

JohnLDrury said...

Ken,

I think your prediction of a resurgence of control from the economic wing of the republican party is a definite possibility, especially as a revolt against Bush's spending. If so, we have not seen the last of Mitt Romney.

But I think we should also consider a strong social/religious right-wing resurgence under the banner of "we lost because we had a candidate who was not really 'one of us' even though we pretended he was." I mention this because the right-wing resurgence in 1994 followed on the heels of the defeat of a moderate insider republican (Bush I) by a charismatic outsider democrat (Clinton). You are right that the republican party will be doing some soul-searching, but the outcome is not certain. I hope that your predictions will come true; I'm just not counting any chickens before they hatch.

-John

Ken Schenck said...

You could be right John. I'm banking on the idea that the economic conservatives are in general more clever and more devious than the social conservatives in the party. I heard Anne Coulter just this morning say that McCain was not a "real" Republican. And I'll put my money on her in an underhanded mud fight with Huckabee :-)

Like you say, we'll see!

Pat Hannon said...

Ken,

Thank you for publicly wrestling with the issues throughout this campaign. I have appreciated your wisdom and insight as you have spoken into the difficult questions.

It's not easy to do this in a public forum. I chickened out months ago. :)

Anonymous said...

Let's keep in mind as well that Obama's election does not by any means indicate that equality has come to America fully.

With Obama leaving the Senate there will be no African-American senators and very few senators who are people of color.

Furthermore, the deep south remained an area that was impossibly for Obama to penetrate. I suspect that this is not for purely political reasons alone.

We have come a long way from the overt bigotry and racism of days gone by, but we are not free at last, and I suppose that we never will be until His Kingdom comes. :) Thanks

Glenn Knepp

Mark Schnell said...

Well said, Glenn. I hope that we will all join together and pray for our president elect's safety. I fear for his life, because there are so many crazies out there. I wonder if the Secret Service will be giving him an even bigger detail than they have in the past. I hope so.

James Petticrew said...

Was there shepherds and angels over there last night because I am definitely getting the impression that somebody thinks they are the Messiah. I have no opinion on Obama and whether he will be good for the States I don't know enough to comment and I am not a US citizen so its not my place to either. However Obama should realise he was running for office in the US and if I want change in my part of the world it will be led by the politicians here I vote for not by the new American president.
That doesn't mean I don't think he can provide leadership in the world but I worry about this messiah complex about the election being for the world etc, etc, etc.

Ken Schenck said...

Hey James! GREAT to hear from you!

I don't at all think Obama is the Messiah. I have mere hopes that he will turn out to be in the caliber of Roosevelt, Reagan, and Clinton, speaking of stature here rather than policy. I think his presidency could turn out to be an extraordinary presidency, one of the top five.

Messiah, no. But there have been extraordinary presidents.

steph said...

I agree with alot of what you say but not "Whatever you think of Obama's politics, we have instantaneously regained great honor in the world. You may think they are wrong, but the world will take this vote as a return to sanity in the U.S." Certainly the whole world is greatly encouraged (despite the booing of McCain's supporters and petitions of the Christian right to impeach Obama) and relieved by the election of Obama, I think that America somehow instantly has great honour is a little optimistic and even sanity is a little hopeful. Meantime congratulations to Obama and his supporters.

It's a shame America voted in favour of discriminating against the gay community after almost showing how grown up it is by overcoming racial prejudice.

Elizabeth Glass-Turner said...

I completely agree that the Republican Party will have major changes to make.

I disagree that Palin cost McCain the election. She motivated the base in enormous ways and got out the vote for Republicans, giving him a fighting chance in what was sure to be a Democratic year. Media biases came frothing to the fore immediately, and I think unfairly, when one actually sits down and scans her resume, and Obama's.

And I don't think I'm blindly supporting a woman when I say that - I was not a Hillary fan, and I certainly am disappointed to see the ridiculous implosion of Elizabeth Dole's bad choices. Yikes.

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