Realistic Expectations For The New President

The general election season is just getting started and already the hot air is issuing forth from both major presidential campaigns.   McCain is experienced; Obama a rookie.  McCain has a track record that helps him; Obama’s lack of a track record makes him a breath of fresh air.  Obama is the second coming of JFK; McCain the second coming of Bush 2.   Lots of rhetoric, lots of mud, little of substance.   Since Minnesota is considered a battleground state this year, we’re already seeing a good number of McCain ads, along with the incessant spewage of senatorial ads as both dirtbags attempt to out-smear the other.  In other words, business as usual in an election year.

My gut tells me that Obama is going to win.  Maybe not be a wide margin, but I think that as the economy continues to slow down it’ll be hard for McCain to distance himself from the largely Republican-driven debt monster that’s been created in the last 8 years.  “It’s the economy, stupid!” redux.  The Democrats are hardly blameless in this as well, but since it’s been a Republican in the White House since 2000, the shit will mostly stick to that party in my opinion.   I’d be much more interested in trying to highlight why the Congress as meekly given up much of it’s power of oversight over the last few decades, but no one really wants to touch that idea at all.

One thing that sticks in my craw with Obama, though, is this whole “Change We Can Believe In” nonsense.   The idea that one rhetorically-gifted man is going to sweep in to Washington and clean house is nonsensical.   Will he deviate from the current administration’s policies?  I’m sure he will.  We should just be realistic about what he can accomplish and not expect the ushering in of a second golden age.  There is an embedded lobbyist culture that has a hammerlock on Washington D.C. and it will not go away quietly into the night.   Money is power, and the money coming into political campaigns has many strings attached.

Want one indication of real change?  Let’s look at who’s been giving money to the candidates:

John McCain’s largest contributors include:

  • Merrill Lynch
  • Citigroup
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Goldman Sachs
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Bank of America
  • Lehman Brothers
  • Wachovia
  • UBS
  • Credit Suisse
  • Bank of America

There are some other large corporations in there, but it’s mostly banks and other financial institutions.

Barack Obama’s Top Contributors include:

  • Goldman Sachs
  • Citigroup
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Lehman Brothers
  • Morgan Stanley
  • UBS

A smaller list of banks & financial institutions, but still a large chunk.  Many of his other top contributors are legal firms and large corporations.

So, there’s a lot of jing rolling in to both presidential campaigns from large banks who are obviously hedging their bets regarding November.  Considering this, how likely do you think that the new president is going to try and force new laws related to banking reform?   I don’t see any way that the public bailouts of the largest banks will not continue.  Anyone who thinks that campaign contributions don’t at least sway politicians if not outright buy them off is naive.   Large corporations are legally-protected psychopaths who follow the mandate of looking out for #1.  If they are throwing money at political campaigns, they definitely expect something in return.

Another thing to consider:  2008 is shaping up to be a very bad economic year.  Banks are failing or being propped up.  The housing market stinks, Wall Street is down, oil prices are up as is inflation.   The public debt continues to increase while tax revenues are probably going to decrease thanks to the slowing economy.   Whomever gets in office next year will have their hands full just performing economic triage.   Any grand ideas for sweeping change will have to wait until things stabilize, and who is to say when that will happen?

Vote for whomever you deem to be the best candidate… just don’t be taken in by rhetoric and campaign promises that may evaporate in January.

NB:  If you haven’t been to Open Secrets yet, check it out.  A good overview site to see where the campaign money is going for many different races.

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2 Responses to Realistic Expectations For The New President

  1. Ali B. says:

    Stumbled over from Fat Guy on a Little Bike. There’s stuff that sticks in my craw about Obama, too (his ethanol policy is a biggie) – but I see his lobbyist/change position a little differently than you. The reason that lobbyists are so powerful, that the special interests are so dangerous, isn’t simply because they give money and so politicians jump. It’s because so few Americans are involved in the political process. The utter lack of mainstream interest in things like energy policy, the farm bill, etc., creates an environment in which the lobbyists can literally write the laws – or not. If more people were paying attention, this would be much, much more difficult. And one thing Obama does seem to do very well is get more people involved.

    Could he maintain this attention past a campaign? Who knows. But I wanted to comment that I read his “change” message differently. That it’s not that he is the sole crusader that can come in and singlehandedly wipe out all lobbyist influence. It’s more that he’s committed to getting more and more people involved with the issues…so that WE’LL be there, together, making sure that the back-room deals are…well, a little less back-room.

    And I’m willing to believe in Obama’s commitment to getting us all more involved. I’m just not sure I have as much faith in the American public’s willingness to get involved in issues that aren’t their own — very special — interests.

  2. Bart says:

    Thanks much for your comment.

    I see where you’re coming from with regards to American political indifference. Sadly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon regardless of who is running. The sheer volume of political advertising & rhetoric that saturates the US during election season turns off just as many Americans as are positively affected.

    Most grass-roots & populist efforts seem to collapse after election time, so I don’t know that the galvanizing effect Obama has on voters will have any staying power. It would be great if it does, but I am pessimistic.

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