Will Obama, the old ideologue from Chicago, go hard left, OR, as the repackaged moderate of the campaign, “rule” (his campaign’s word, not mine) with Augustan moderation, OR, as a cut-the-difference “healer,” simply vote present — even as each faction now cries for its own version of “Let Obama be Obama”?
The wiser course would be to govern in the manner of the post-flip-flop part of the campaign (e.g. after the ‘adjustments’ on NAFTA, FISA, guns, abortion, capital punishment, Iraq, Iran, drilling, nuclear, coal, etc.): if one must raise income taxes on the top brackets, then by all means don’t also lift FICA caps and de facto add on a 15.3% Medicare and Social Security additional payroll tax increase; don’t go for the whole trillion-dollar entitlement enchilada at a time of massive deficits; avoid the loony left in appointments; etc. Conventional wisdom says all that is supposedly the only way to ensure a Clintonian second term, but I doubt that happens.
Instead, I think many advisors privately are thinking that the turn-out the vote hoopla in key states wasn’t all that much more than in 2004. And for all the talk of a new realignment and the end of the old conservative regime, 2008 is more likely explained as a once in a lifetime alignment of the stars (cf. Carter in 1976): the mid-September meltdown that ruined McCain’s lead; the normal weariness after eight years of incumbency; two wars; a charismatic young and path-breaking Democratic candidate, a liberal’s renouncing of public campaign financing to amass $600 million.
If such reasoning were true, then the sentiment might be ‘strike now’, while the House, Senate, media, and indeed the world are all on board since they may not be either six months from now, much less two years from now. And that would suggest, I think, quick action on the fairness doctrine, an end to union secret ballots, a stop on a lot of drilling (all this in the short term costs nothing), as well as hefty income and payroll tax increases — in short, the big government Euro-model at home, and the UN/we-are-the-world model abroad.
So maybe because the election did not show a radical and permanent shift in the electorate, it is more, not less, likely that we will see a leftward lurch, especially on structural things like unions, open borders cum amnesty, and fairness doctrine/talk radio, etc. that would all be seen as investments in ensuring more liberal voters in the next elections.