As I sit down to write this, the night of November 3rd, I am filled with competing emotions. Part of me is exited about Election Day. Could Senator McCain pull off an upset? Could a Republican presidential nominee in the midst of an economic slowdown, with an unpopular President, an unpopular war, with the worst managed campaign in a decade, overcome these challenges to win?
The other part of me is filled with trepidation. If Senator Obama wins, is America ready for the next four years with Democrats in charge of the House, the Senate and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?
Whoever is elected, the next President will face challenges both at home and in a dangerous, yet dynamic world. A world that does not play by our rules. A world looking to see if America is the same nation who defeated German National Socialism, Japanese Imperialism and Soviet Communism, or has it turned into an isolationist nation, set on retreating behind its borders and allowing the worst of world's dictators and terrorist regimes a free hand to gather power and territory? The next four years will tell.
They will look to see if America turns away from its role as the driving force behind the world's economy and imposes protectionist tariffs. They will demand we handcuff our economy with carbon restrictions and offsets, all the while building coal-fired power plants to the tune of one a week. Will America turn down this path towards economic restriction and handicap our ability to compete in the world market? The next four years will tell.
Both Republicans and Democrats will look to the government, some will have sky high expectations of what the government will do for them, others will hope they won't screw things up any worse than they are. I fall into the latter group.
Most of the conservatives I know have no illusions about John McCain and his policies. We know Senator McCain and we know that while he was our only real choice in this election, we would all be mildly surprised if in four years we gave him a glowing review. We also know the limitations of government.
The Obama supporters on the other hand are 'all in'. They have pushed all their chips into the middle of the table and bet everything on a politician. They are so emotionally invested in Obama as the person who will make their world right and more important to them, make it fair, the reality will fall far short of their expectations. If Obama wins, no matter how effective his Presidency is, they will find with all the glowing speeches and the promises Senator Obama has made, he is just a politician and the government is still the government, no matter who is in charge.
No matter who the next President is, broken promises and government failures will be the best lessons we can learn in the next four years. The government is a blunt tool, to believe it will make your life appreciably better is to disregard every personal experience you have had dealing with it. Don't expect the same government that runs the DMV and the IRS to overnight become your fairy god mother. The next lesson we should learn is government is not in the business of making everyone equal. Some people show up to work early, stay late, work hard, continually learn and make good decisions; others watch Dancing with the Stars and buy things they don't need, with money they don't have, to impress people they don't like. No government program will fix this.
As you read this, we will know who will be the 44th President of the United States; at least I hope we will know. Obama or McCain, Democrats and Republicans, Blue states and Red states, we are all in this together. We will get through it. Our founding fathers had it right, four years is just long enough to change the nation in the direction of its leadership, and not long enough to do any irreparable damage.