You have your guys. You study them, read about them, research them, obsess about them. Watch way too much TV involving them. You know a day of decision approaches. You think we’re in good shape, you think we can pull it off. But you’re not sure. Then it happens; a decisive victory beckons. And the San Francisco Giants win the World Series.
Oh, also Obama won. That was cool too.
A friend posted on Facebook that maybe it’s time for me to enter a lottery. “The Giants, Obama; it’s kind of the Year of Eric, no?” she wrote. I laughed out loud. But yeah, feels good.
I honestly thought Mitt Romney’s finest moment was his concession speech. I thought it was statesmanlike, conciliatory, called for national unity. I think Romney’s legacy will be a tremendous one. He’s the guy who proved a Mormon can compete politically, on the national stage. Mormonism, it turned out, was not an issue in his campaign. Like a 21st century Reed Smoot, we’re not just a weird Western cult anymore. I wouldn’t have voted for Smoot either, but I acknowledge his historical importance; even wrote a play about him, back in the day. Romney’s like Smoot; an important figure in the mainstreaming of America.
But Steve Kornacki, writing in Salon, made another important point about Romney. He said that history will remember that the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, was a Romney idea. By 2016, the ACA, Obamacare, will not be a political issue. It will have been implemented, we’ll have had two years experience with it, we’ll already have begun to see how positively it impacts people’s lives. People without health insurance, right now, face a terrible dilemma. If a loved one gets sick, the uninsured have two alternatives, both of them completely irresponsible; either to ignore a potentially life-threatening illness, or to go to an ER, and run up a bill you have no way of paying. That’s where we are now. By 2016; different story.
And historians will credit Romney. They will, obviously, also credit the President, but they will remember Romney’s role too. That’ll be his legacy. And the fact that he opposed it in this election will be one of those comical little historical footnotes.
What will Romney do, now that his political career is over? One of the best speeches I’ve ever heard from him, was the one he gave at the summit for the Clinton Global Initiative. It wouldn’t surprise me if Romney joined Clinton’s efforts, as the two Presidents Bush have done. Or perhaps he’ll start some similar foundation aimed at eradicating poverty or ignorance. Mitt Romney will never be President now, but he can and will find a way to make a positive difference in the world.
And what happens next for the United States? Of course, my Facebook was swamped by friends terrified at the coming apocalypse, with Obama back in office. My favorite was a guy who posted on my daughter’s timeline: “America’s turning socialist! I’m moving to Europe!” It’s the end of the world as we know it.
And I feel fine.
A friend of mine tells a story about his favorite Sunday School class ever. It was late in 1999, and people were worried about the Y2K thing, all that computer code failing. So their bishop (local priest in Mormon parlance) had a special meeting, in which two supposed computer experts talked about the impact of Y2K. They had 40 minutes, and the first guy took 35 of them. And it was apocalyptic; planes falling out of the sky, trains colliding, car crashing, banks failing, rioting in the streets, the moon turning to blood and wormwood poisoning the waters. Everyone in the class is sitting there terrified. The second guy got up, clearly nonplussed, trying to be nice, not wanting to start a scene. And he starts off: “well, brother X certainly had some interesting . . . I’m perhaps slightly more optimistic . . . while I may possibly suggest that. . . .” Then he stopped, looked at the clock, sighed. And then said: “oh hell! Brothers and sisters! None of that is going to happen! None of it! At all!” And sat down.
So what actually will happen. Heck, who knows? A military coup in Crazystan spreading across Central Asia, infecting a whole bunch of other countries we don’t know with lots of consonants in their names. A horrific weather event. Maybe the Israelis take out a nuclear facility in Iran. George W. Bush did not expect his Presidency to be defined by nutbags flying planes into buildings any more than Richard Nixon expected his Presidency to end due to the aftermath of a botched hotel burglary. What I predict is something no one right now could possibly predict.
But what’s likely is this: the economy will get better, probably slowly and gradually. Unemployment will fall, but not a lot and not quickly. We’ll probably see John Boehner and Barack Obama work out some kind of budget deal, and we’ll probably see Boehner have a heck of a time selling it to Tea Party Congressmen. We may see slightly less gridlock; that would be nice. We’ll pull out of Afghanistan, and that poor screwed-up country will remain poor and screwed-up.
A few things I’d like to see: President Obama needs a new chief-of-staff, and it would be nice if he got someone with experience working with Congress. Russ Feingold, maybe, or Tom Daschle, Lincoln Chafee, someone like that. Maybe a senior statesman, and maybe a Republican; Bob Bennett? He’s going to need a new Secretary of State: I’d love to see John Kerry there. Marriage equality will get decided in the Court, and won’t be a political issue in 2016. Legalizing marijuana may replace it as the big new hot button social issue. I think it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will remain unchanged: Justice Ginsberg is elderly and a cancer survivor–she may decide to retire. Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy are also old enough that retirement isn’t out of the question, though I think there’s zero chance of Scalia retiring with a Democrat in the White House.
Politics, in other words. As usual. The United States just re-elected a President. That’s a good thing, a normal thing. We’re not going to become a socialist hell-scape, and we’re not going to become a socialist paradise. We’ll keep muddling through. We have a good President, and he just got four more years. Yay for us.