This was the most expensive election in U.S. history, costing more than $5.3 billion. Alot of the money came from small donors but the big bankers, hedge funds, insurance companies, weapons corporations and the like kicked big bucks into both campaigns, particularly Obama's. You know the wolves will now come knocking at the White House door.
At this point it is clear that the Democrats have expanded their majority in the Senate and House of Representatives. I was closely watching a couple key races. In the House two ultra-conservative Republican Central Florida Congressmen, Tom Feeney and Ric Keller, were both defeated. I lived in Orlando, Florida for 20 years and rarely saw a Democrat elected to Congress in that region.
Cindy Sheehan, running against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, got 17% of the vote. In a letter on the Internet yesterday Cindy expressed disappointment that the peace movement in her city was not much help with her campaign. The Democrats used Cindy in 2006 during the mid-term congressional elections to run against the war. She helped deliver the House to the Democrats but when she wanted to hold Pelosi's feet to the fire on the occupation of Iraq and impeachment, many local peace folks (who are captives of the Dems) abandoned her.
I was watching the Minnesota Senate race closely where Al Franken (a left of center Democrat) was running against incumbent Norm Coleman (a slimy character who took Paul Wellstone's seat). As of this morning they are in a virtual tie and there will be a recount.
I've not yet seen how Maine U.S. Senate write-in candidate Herb Hoffman did. I wonder if his votes will even be counted.
In a local race one of our PeaceWorks members in nearby Brunswick, Debbie Atwood, was elected to the town council. Congrats to Debbie.
Green Party leader Cynthia McKinney appears to have done poorly nationally and Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader didn't do much better. It was not a good year for people thinking outside the two-party box.
The talk is that Obama will keep Bush's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in that job. Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush as Director of the CIA. To me that is not change.
Former Bill Clinton staffer, and now Congressman Rahm Emanuel from Chicago, is rumored to be in the running to be Obama's Chief of Staff. Emanuel is a corporate mainstream Democrat and his selection will indicate to me the real direction of an Obama administration.
Obama has a tightrope act to walk. He owes blacks, Hispanics, and young people his election. These folks are worried about jobs, health care, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy policy, and climate change. That is a huge undertaking. In his speech last night Obama began tamping down expectations saying "We might not get there even in my first term, but we will get there." Suddenly the "yes we can" change will become tempered.
People ought to celebrate the defeat of the right-wing Republican control of our government. That is a wonderful change for sure. But I remember the Clinton years very well. A centrist Democrat took over after the first president George Bush and gave the power structure NAFTA and paved the way for war in Iraq with his long and deadly sanctions and "no fly zones". He never did anything to speak of on health care and led the destruction of welfare while helping to begin the deregulation of Wall Street which ushered in massive welfare for the rich.
I've been around long enough not to fall for the big rhetoric from politicians. I try not to be jaded and overly cynical. I try to see things as they are.
I hope Obama delivers the changes he has promised. I hope the public understands that their role in bringing real change has just begun. I hope that Obama supporters are in this one for the long haul.