For several months, the words Obama and McCain have not been allowed in posts here. I’m declaring a one-day moratorium on this policy. This was not because I’m uninterested in the U.S. election – quite the opposite. I thought that this particular election was an important one. And, quite aside from the importance of the election, I enjoy the “pennant race” aspect of the election and have followed the election avidly.
I don’t often talk about my political views – though I’ve sometimes taken pains to point out that I do not share the political views of many readers. In American terms, Canada would be a blue state along the lines of Massachusetts; Toronto would be a liberal city in a blue state; and I live downtown in one of the most liberal constituencies in the city. None of this is unrelated to my political views. I realize that many Climate Audit readers have opposite political views, but we try to get along.
I thought that McCain’s concession speech last night was remarkably and commendably gracious and that it was the high point of McCain’s campaign, in which he showed the positive aspects of his character in a way that was little evident in the campaign.
I thought that Obama’s acceptance speech was equally gracious. Obviously any politician has to have an ego and I presume that Obama is no different; but he at least expresses himself with a commendable humility, which I, for one, am prepared to take at face value.
It was pretty amazing that McCain, at the age of 72, could have campaigned so tirelessly for so long. McCain’s body language last night showed to me that he was tired and, in a way, probably ready to get off the horse. Whereas for Obama, there will be no days off and it looked like he was ready to work just as hard today as he did yesterday. Aside from anything else, I think that the U.S. is better off with a leader who’s at the peak of his powers and energy.
If one is looking for good in the economic crisis (and this is hard for me to say as I am entirely reliant on my diminished 401K equivalent), it is that crises focus people’s minds on problems and issues. Obama is in a position to call on the best and most competent Americans for his Cabinet and, in the present circumstances, few would refuse. I think that we’ll see people of the stature of Warren Buffett and Colin Powell. And, if they don’t serve directly, Obama will listen to their advice on the younger person who is selected. I would be shocked if his cabinet is doctrinaire or mediocre.
I think that Obama’s election is also very healthy for the U.S. in world terms. The U.S. stands for both good and bad in world terms. While U.S. economic dominance has faded, it is still the leading world nation and leadership from the U.S. is important. Obama is in a position to provide such leadership in a way that would have been impossible for McCain.
In this context, the climate wars seem like small beer. Clearly an Obama win will be welcomed by Gore-ites, though my sense is that Obama will steer his own course. I also think that there are several other imperatives driving economic policy in the direction of reducing U.S. economic dependence on oil and especially imported oil. Will there will be end to the generation-long embargo on nuclear power construction in the United States in an Obama administration? Surely that should be one of the first topics on the agenda. For climate change activists, it is one of the few ways to seriously dent CO2 emissions; for people worried about foreign oil, it’s one of the few ways to seriously reduce dependence on foreign energy. If something better comes along, so be it, but right now, in Ontario, we’re dependent on nuclear stations designed and built in the 1970s and my guess is that people in the 2040s and 2050s will appreciate any nuclear power plants built in the next 10 years.
Margaret Wente, a Toronto columnist with American roots (who’s written kindly about me and whom I often agree with), wrote yesterday before the election: “Americans are about to get their country back”, at least in the sense that U.S. politics of the next 4 to 8 years are going to be less acrimonious than the politics of the last 16 years and that its leadership will accorded the respect that it deserves, both in the world and in the country. The graciousness of last night’s speeches by both McCain and Obama was a big step in this direction.