Is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. the man to steer the United States out of its multiple economic, financial, and military crises? Not since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (FDR) first mandate in the 1930s have the stakes been so high. Armed with the broadest victory since President Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide, Obama must bring meaningful change and restore hope to a cynical and apprehensive population.
Failure is not an option...
Reaching out to 'Red' America.
Obama earned the largest Democratic victory since 1964; it was the first time since President Johnson's win that a Democrat received over 51% of the national vote. Muted Republican disappointment reflects the final result, as does the burden of "Bush fatigue" in what was widely acknowledged to be a Democratic year.
If immediate post-election commentary is to be believed, President-elect Obama has earned a "honeymoon period" from political adversaries and ardent supporters alike. Recall that several prominent Republicans publicly endorsed or spoke favorably of the Democratic standard bearer during the campaign. They include:
Election 2008 exit polling revealed that 22% of self-proclaimed conservatives (and 10% of registered Republicans) voted for Obama. Thus, it appears that their political angst went beyond the idle chatter of prominent columnists like Christopher Buckley (formerly of the National Review), Kathleen Parker and George Will (Washington Post columnists). Whether it heralds the era of the "Obama Republican" remains to be seen.
A Consensus-building Administration.
Given the enormous tasks that lie ahead, the need for bipartisan cooperation amongst the White House, Congress, and society at large cannot be overstated. Thus, it is not surprising that Obama has chosen to retain Defense Secretary Robert Gates and pledged to place Republicans in important positions in his administration. He has nominated his greatest rival - Senator Hillary Clinton - as Secretary of State, and another Democratic presidential candidate (Governor Bill Richardson, New Mexico) as Commerce Secretary.
The inauguration of President-elect Obama will mark the birth of a new America, one where identity politics yields to a better way of doing things. The United States could never support an "Angry, Black Man". Instead, in a time of urgent need, it is putting its faith in a calm, serene thinker and his team of qualified experts.
Exit Reagan, Enter Obama...
Barack Obama's historic electoral victory arguably ends the Reagan Era of American politics, i.e.:
The Bush Administration's multi-trillion dollar liquidity injection into financial markets insures a strong federal government presence in the economy for many years to come. While "bailout" politics feeds into the Democrats' penchant for muscular interventionism, the current situation demands new, intelligent approaches to public policy. Along with badly needed physical infrastructure projects (roads, highways, bridges, etc.) the Obama Administration must act decisively on energy independence, "green" economy, and digital infrastructure initiatives.
Hitting the Ground Running.
The new administration's first hundred days are critical to restoring America's morale. Fueled by a new generation of engaged, activist voters, the incoming President must demonstrate a firm grasp of issues and inspire a renewed sense of the public good. If successful, Obama may consolidate the electoral paradigm shift that emerged on November 4, 2008: a broad, post-partisan coalition of over 67 million voters - young and old, multiracial, multilingual, and multi-ethnic.
Never has so much been expected and demanded of an incoming President. However, with a strong team by his side and the willingness of all people to put country first, there is no reason why Barack Obama cannot bring America the change and hope it desires:
"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America." - Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, July 27, 2004.