How did the US get to this point?
I don’t mean this in a bad way by any means. But consider that twelve months ago, Barack Obama had no shot in hell at the presidency. For that matter, he had no shot at all at the Democratic nomination–Hillary Clinton in the blue corner was supposed to be all but inevitable; various media reports stated that even the Republicans had all but conceded the White House to Clinton for 2008 (Whether sincerely or as a sneaky way of mobilizing their own base in a reverse-psychology ploy, we’ll never know).
But sometime between then and now, something happened. Barack Obama played a different game than anyone before him, both in terms of fundraising, and in terms of how he handled the process of the nomination. Whereas Senator Clinton tried to get things over with early, Obama settled in for the long haul, maximizing his wins, minimizing his losses, and pulling off what we’ve forgotten mere months later was a monumental upset.
All of a sudden, everything changed on both sides. The Republicans had spent their resources preparing for a bout with Clinton; suddenly, here was this new challenger that they knew nothing about–maybe his biggest strength. People tout “experience” in politics, but what did experience get us these last eight years? Well, primarily, it took all our international good will, threw it in the toilet, and flushed it–something that should have been impossible after September 11th, 2001. Apparently no one told the Bush Administration that, unlike when I completed The Impossible Bass Challenge in Rock Band 2, you don’t get any XBOX Gamerpoints for completing “The Impossible Waste of Our Reputation Challenge”.
In any event, where there was a long list of things to use against Clinton in an attempt to drive people to vote for McCain–some legitimate, some even more questionable than what they ultimately tried to use against Obama–Obama was effectively a clean slate, and a very charismatic one at that. As Hulk Hogan can tell you, charisma is often an excellent substitute for ability. Whereas John Kerry utterly failed to make any sort of impression beyond “I’m not Bush, so uh, vote for me, okay?”, Obama took his ostensible inexperience and ran with it, all the way up to Election Night. In the end, what was really the worse that could be said about him? Well, he doesn’t know his Batman, and he was never a Jeopardy! champion like McCain was (Somehow, this was not a deal-breaker for me).
Or, put another way, Obama actually got me to vote for a major-party candidate. To this point, I have generally voted Nader, because I despise and just refuse to support our current two-party system. And I actually voted within said system this time.
Now, will Obama be the magic cure for everything that I have sarcastically anointed John Kerry as in the past? Of course not. But he will be something different–as my mom said, “You always loved different”–than the typical “Dubya’s successor in party vs. Dubya’s successor in spirit” that everyone was expecting one year ago. And that’s something I can get behind.