There are so many reasons why I think Obama is the right person for the presidency, not that we can do much about it now. As Andrew Sullivan wrote back in December 2007 in the Atlantic (A highly recommended read):
Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you....
Given this quiet, evolving consensus on policy, how do we account for the bitter, brutal tone of American politics? The answer lies mainly with the biggest and most influential generation in America: the Baby Boomers. The divide is still—amazingly—between those who fought in Vietnam and those who didn’t, and between those who fought and dissented and those who fought but never dissented at all. By defining the contours of the Boomer generation, it lasted decades. And with time came a strange intensity.
For many of us non-baby boomer generation, we have viewed this fight being waged and inadvertently have been dragged into it with a strange sense of confusion and curiosity. However, this of course is toxic to both our political process and our society, for eight years we have created a blue vs. red state mentality this resentment is made worse by our increased geographic segregation of like minded individuals. It is because Obama being the only candidate who is not from the baby boomer generation who is truly the only one capable of getting this country past this divide.
Does an Obama presidency mean a new generation of liberalism and democratic party rule? Personally, I don't think an Obama presidency will be as liberal as many fear my guess it will be left of center similar to that of Clinton's. Although I do think that Obama's win could mark the beginning of a growing political shift to the left, in part a result of the aging baby boomer generation and of course due to the Bush presidency.
A big reason why I think an Obama presidency could mean a more liberal shift is partly due to the number of new and young voters Obama has brought into the political process for the first time. Most of these voters are registered democrats and will likely remain that way, potentially a big plus for the Democrats long term. This is in part why Obama was the superior candidate for the democrats versus Hillary.
A potential liberal shift is probably a simple generational shift that naturally occurs over time, but the unpopularity of the Bush administration its policies and conduct play a big factor, including the difficult economic probably brought this shift more quickly.
The republican party
Ironically the most damage imposed on the republican party was by republicans themselves. Over the past eight years (certainly the past four) we have seen the republican party lose the support of moderates, independents, fiscal conservatives, Latinos, among others. The main voting block that remains are the social conservatives, while an important group they have pulled the party to far to the right and focus on a few issues namely abortion and gay marriage. The problem for the party is that if democrats continue to make gains or retain their power the republicans will have to moderate their tone. This moderation however will not play well with the social conservatives, so it would seem the longer abortion and gay marriage are front and center the harder it will be to regain power.
I don't want to get into a lengthy discussion of abortion or gay marriage but I do want to say that these and other controversial issues may harm the republican brand if they remain front and center. It seems as though the younger evangelical voter is more concerned with social equality, poverty, environment than fighting the unwon wars of their parents and grandparents generation. It is these voters the republicans should focus on.
McCain Palin the final blow
I was quite excited when McCain won the nomination, of all the republican candidates he stood out as the most moderate and with the greatest potential to rebrand the republican party as a centrist party. Sadly the announcement of Palin was probably the worst decision the campaign could have made (note I originally thought she was a great strategic choice). Her choice stood against almost everything I thought McCain had going for him, moderate, bipartisan, reformer, repudiation of Rovian politics. Instead the campaign continued to play the Nixon-Rove style politics of personal attacks and anti-intellectualism. I know this is a bit simplistic since McCain faced an uphill battle following a Bush presidency, a bad economy, a poorly run campaign, and out campaigned by the democrats. However, it does in my mind represent an unfortunate continuation of a political strategy and mentality that has been rejected by voters for fours years now. I was originally hopeful McCain could forge his own style of campaign by moderating the republican party, instead he chose Palin to appease an ever more radical evangelical base. This time many moderates, fiscal conservatives, intellectuals, and military types finally decided to repudiate this style of politics and direction for the party.
It was refreshing to see McCain deliver his concession speech on Nov 4th I only wish he would have shown more of that moderate style during his campaign. Perhaps the outcome is the best for the republican party, now they can do some soul searching and hopefully rebuild the party and decide what the party ultimately stands for.
First and foremost I'm glad the elections are over, the suspense was exhausting. I am personally excited and hopeful under the new Obama presidency, although it is clear the US is in a very complicated position economically, and being in Iraq and Afghanistan. This will require bipartisan effort to solve these issues and since the democrats are now the majority in both houses and now the presidency it is up to them to prove they are as effective as they claim to be. On a cautionary note one of the worst things they can do is to flaunt their majority and engage in partisan politics, otherwise my feeling is that voters will reject them as they did to the republicans.