I watched Obama’s acceptance speech this morning and as he walked out onto the platform in front of 125,000 supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park, I joked with a co-worker that he’s walking out there thinking, “Wow… I won! OMG NOW WHAT?!?”
I doubt if he was actually thinking that, but that joke and an interview question that my niece asked me yesterday for her school project started my speculation. Now that Barack Obama won the election and will be President of the United States of America come January, what will happen?
My niece’s question was “What do you think will happen if Barack Obama becomes President?” My answer? “I think our standing in the international community would increase dramatically over the first few years.” That was all. She asked the same question about McCain. My answer was, “Nothing.”
I didn’t mean it as a negative against McCain. I don’t think any Presidential candidate can fulfill all the promises and plans made on the campaign trail. He may sincerely want to fulfill them, but when it comes right down to it, the President isn’t the “do’er.” He (or she) has influence (some more than others, obviously) and can help drive things in a certain direction, but it’s Congress who actually “does stuff” when it comes to domestic issues. The President can propose and he can shoot down.
However, the “Commander in Chief” controls the military and controls foreign policy (more or less). I believe that Obama will represent the United States positively to the rest of the world and based on world polls, the world believes that, too. That, in and of itself, will do more for national security than any amount of border control or military action or aggressive posturing, especially in the long run. Representing the United States with strong, positive leadership tempered with humility and a willingness to listen to others’ viewpoints will repair this country’s relationships and make it stronger and safer. I believe Obama can do that.
I’m not as sure about the heavily Democratic Congress, however, when it comes to domestic policy. I hope that Obama can bring any wildly left-wing proposals into the middle, but only time will tell. Up to this point, the gap between political parties has been fairly wide and the gap has gotten increasingly larger in the past 8 years, so hoping for a spontaneous “meet in the middle” would be somewhat naive. I do hope for a nudge in that direction, however… enough to get the ball rolling toward the middle area where it belongs. If Obama can get that to happen, I’d put a pretty big check mark in his “Success” column.