Friday, November 7, 2008

Where will He, Can He, Take Us?

Obama's win has not put an end to opportunities for pundits to emit suppositions and theories.  I will do it in writing.

I believe that Obama knows as well as any progressive American that this country needs to become more like the other developed, civilized countries of the world. He knows we need universal health care, less war and more renewal at home, less consumerism and more discipline, if we want the planet to continue as a human habitat.

Although he won the election, progressives are still a minority, found mainly among the young, the minorities.  There are still a lot of older folks who'd just like corporate capitalism to be a bit more humane, and for America to be respected again. They don't want us to be seen as bullies, but they cannot really imagine a lifestyle radically different from the one their parents aspired to when they were struggling during the Great Depression.

So Obama will put Clinton figures such as Larry Summers and Robert Rubin in charge of the financial mess created by Wall Street, knowing these men are among the brightest of the old guard.

But he will side with the rest of the world's demands for a new international financial system, because he and the Clintonites know there is no alternative. Should he not obtain congressional approval, that change will be postponed until things get worse, due to the fact that the rest of the world will have implemented change without it.

Obama will push forward with health care, maybe even universal single payer health care, if the grass roots organization he has built up pushes as hard as he hopes it will. There is a better than even chance that this will happen, and that, in the face of resistance to "reasonable change" by the insurance industry, he will have a mandate to go further than what he promised on the stump. The financial crisis has already tarred the insurance industry with the feathers of the financial sector.)

Obama will prioritize a major renewable energy program that will provide green collar jobs.

Foreign affairs will at first get second tier status: the Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan region, Korea, Cuba and the Israeli-Palestinian standoff.  A concerted effort will be made to hunt down Bin Laden, but at the same time, quiet diplomacy with the Taliban will continue. These three areas of concern will only be amenable to sustained, long-term efforts, in which diplomacy will be the primary tool. Obama will not scale up the military as some have predicted, because it is not necessary and because too many other things are.

China will be recognized for what it is: a major creditor, and the next great power. For all Russia's lack of democracy, obama will recognize Europe's special relationship.  If his foreign policy advisors are as astute as I hope they are, they will realize that the world is organizing, not only into regional groupings, such as ALBA in Latin America, but also cross-regional alliances, such as the one between Russia, Iran and Venezuela.  I believe Obama realizes that America is no longer primo inter pares, but is expected to be a fair player on a multi-polar playing field.

The most crucial factor in how Obama governs will be  the grass roots structure he built to make it impossible to avoid the change he knows we need.

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