Let's think about this for a second:
- National Unemployment is around 4.5%.
- Colorado Springs Unemployment is at 3.8%. We just had a third consecutive year of positive job growth.
- Demographically, more buying power is coming online than every before.
- We have friends in China and Abu Dhabi willing to bail us out of our subprime credit-crunch idiocy.
- Our national savings rate is 0.5% and economics are worried about stagflation.
The economy is sound it seems only to the Bush Administration's Executive and his mouthpiece. A colleague predicted, and I think to a degree pretty accurately, that as the spring wears on and the eventual GOP and Democratic contenders stop eating-their-own and start taking swings at each other, that the economy will become the central issue of the campaign. Where I disagree is that the democratic surge will result in more bad feelings about the crappy economy. That will certainly happen if Hillary gets the nod. It will probably happen if Edwards gets the nod. I think the opposite happens if Obama gets the nod.
Here's an idea, capitalists: Obama, 2008. Che Gueverra will not be his running mate.
Now really, I am a political person, but a New Year's Resolution (hold you laughter until given the go-ahead...) is swearing off agendas (... now). So for December 28th at least, this isn't a motivating rally for go-go-Obama. It's just an examination of the American psyche. And a guesstimate as to what Obama would do to that psyche. Notice I don't say "capitalize" on. This is the product being the brand that we're talking about, not the other way around.
America is sick of Bush (duh). I'm sick of the Clintons (I know some who aren't, but c'mon, how excited can anyone be about Hillary right now?). America is sick of being lied to, mislead (they're not the same, they're twins from the same womb), befuddled, and having it's brand drained to India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, the aforementioned UAE, Japan, Signapore and even New Zealand (George Lucas, where art thou progeny?). Sarcozy is starting to make being French look at least intriguing (Henry Thierry doesn't hurt either). Russia has a despot at the helm, but they are starting to get their crap together. What has always been different about America, especially when compared to Europe, is that America is a country founded on ideas. Now we're founded on pragmatism, production and end-results. We are not founded on process. We are not an American Experiment. We are not an audacious nation that bombs the hell out of it's enemies... and then goes and re-builds the same enemies.
Our economy, by psychological standards, is in the doldrums. By measurable standards, we're not. But people aren't buying year-end car discounts. They're holding out for deeper discounts at Wal*Mart. In my biz, they're not buying homes. Why? Because they don't feel like it. Hey, have they been given a lick of hope politically in the last 10 years? I was a Clintonista. A proud one. That legacy was squandered on lies. The last eight years have been squandered on polarization and lies.
What Obama brings is a lot of blessed inexperience. That's right: blessed inexperience. He's got no foreign policy experience. He's never run anything other than his check book. He doesn't like ties. He snorted blow. He ain't from anywhere. He's a chiseled sexpot romping in the surf.
The Man is America. He is raw, bold, naked, inspirational, let's talk about ideas America. He is dignity from depravity. He's the best orator since Reagan, a strange comparison, but he's far less calculating and far more likely to trip over his own promises. Thank God. He's real. He's not a great writer. He's a great speaker. Give me the former.
America's obsession with disposable, pre-packaged, by-committee, sanitized, homogenized, safe-bets has left us a nation of quasi-investors, chronic-over-spenders, boob-tube-depressed, over-medicated, understudies of blandness. We did invent the internet (risky... communicating with other people?). We did invent personal computing (risky... who would work outside the office, who would transmit data that wasn't a PhD engineer?). We did invent most of modern medicine (risky,,, huge capital investments, experimentation, etc.). We did invent air travel (uh... risky). Shall we talk about lightbulbs? But we have the population with the lowest likelihood of passport use among industrialized nations (guilty as charged). We are training the world's doctors in medicine at our schools and then they return home to innovate new break through treatments. We've got Macs, but the iPhone happened a half decade earlier in Japan. I saw it with my own eyes on that one international trip I took (ever). Just think: it was early 2002. We were running late on a cross-country train trip. Our tour guide pulled out her phone and found a different Shinkasen schedule that would get us to Norita on time for our 10 hour trip back across the Pacific. Almost that entire sentence is impossible anywhere in the Western US today. The internet now allows corporate recruiters for jobs in Boulder to stockpile hundreds of candidates into a databank and call them from Bangalore to their home in the Colorado Springs suburbs during the dinner hour. It's the same obnoxious call an American recruiter would make, but this recruiter has a bigger bundle of candidates to sell and is willing to work from 9 pm to 7 am.
Capitalists: this is the drumbeat of dullness. A green economy is the promise of radical innovation unseen since the space program. A racially-diversified global workforce promises innovation unseen in history. Think about 1st Century Rome. Maybe not the best role model for social justice, political progress, etc., but Rome was phenomenal because it was inclusive. Augustine was born in the Roman Empire... in Africa. It was the exchange of ideas writ large.
America has been taught: don't take risks, eliminate your enemies, look out for yourself, take advantage of any personalized situation you can, buy, buy, buy. Most of the Democratic candidates maintain that status quo. Everyone of the Republican candidates maintain that status quo. Tax breaks, work programs, seed money for innovation, none of that will have any creative impact: without let's risk-our-ass-and-so-what-if-we-fail leadership. Barrack Obama does not belong in this field of candidates. He's a black man who did dope who was raised by his mom, who is as much from Chicago as Hillary is from New York... and yet... isn't it beautiful that someone with both the cajones and all the reasons to fail... isn't?
Teddy Roosevelt laid out just how audacious and goofy us Americans were in his famous speech quoting the "man in the arena", the risk taker who knows the spirit of the fight, the glories as well as the blood. Teddy gave this speech not as president, but as a pre-Bull-Mooser to the Sorbonne Academy in Paris in 1910. He had nothing to gain from this speech other than "check this out... here's where I come from". His audience was French. He was making a point to the continentals as bold as the Great White Fleet: "we're a little goofy, a lot arrogant, and we don't tinker, we go all-out. Y'all best take notice." It was done with an impish glimmer rather than "for us or against us". It was claiming ideas rather than claiming territory (TR did some of that too). Teddy had been a Lt. Governor, a Police Chief and an Assistant Secretary of the Navy before he became Vice President. It was an audacious, meteoric rise. He had enemies on every fence of every stripe, in coal mines and on Wall Street. He did a lot of stupid stuff. Our Conservation President killed 300 animals on his African Safari.
He was one of the great risk takers in American history, let alone political history. He made us the nation of dewy-eyed dreamers that we are. The America 100 years after he left office has a beer gut, a brain gut, a courage gut. This is no slam at the soldier who serves his nation over seas. It's at the every man that doesn't leave his couch, that spends time on his football picks and not his marriage, that votes the party line that wants for much and needs nothing.
The Obama Market 2008 is not about turning the tides for a single year. It's about hope. Women look to men for hope in relationships. They're over 50% of the population. Given our present malaise, do you think we could build an economy on hope? We haven't had an everyman in office since Lincoln. Our present economy is not bad. But it's the source of frustration and consternation because so much of our exalted American edge, that thing that defines us as "those crazy Americans" who launch rockets to the moon, end global wars, give women the vote and design Google... we are losing the hope to do this each and every year we move onward and allow conventional wisdom to elect our presidents and commissioners and school board sitters.
Obama is not a safe choice. He's not a logical choice. He's not an experienced choice. That's why we bloody need him.