I was reflecting back on the election yesterday and I was thinking about Obama's campaign strategy. He motivated voters to vote for him by raising swaths of voters' expectations of what a politician can and should be. I think it's safe to say he was successful to messianic proportions.
Similarly, the Segway was hyped, with few details, to be supposedly the greatest thing since sliced bread. But as you can probably remember, when finally revealed it was overwhelmingly underwhelming.
Since he's been elected, if he wants to have a successful presidency, ironically, he now has to lower general expectations as much as possible. That actually shouldn't be too hard for him since he didn't needlessly tie his hands by defining 'change', or what we're 'hoping' for, or elaborating on what it is 'yes, we can' do. However, to do so would be to jettison nearly everything from his campaign that got him elected.
Don't get me wrong--I want all of our presidents to be good ones and successful since we're all on the same team. But the new president, like any president, is constrained in what he can do by a bunch of things out of his control: everything from the economy, to ensuring government stability domestically and internationally, to all the back room political promises he likely had to make.
There's not a lot he can do to make new programs since there's not a of free money floating around in this economy that still has a lot of downward potential. Furthermore if he tries to tax the rich or businesses, they'll just pick up and leave. He can't borrow or print more money, we're already saturated in those departments. Also, with a smaller turnout than 2004 and 65.4 million votes, not even a quarter of the country has explicitly approved.
While I am skittish that he has an allied Congress and that of the few things he decides to put effort into changing, he picks something too drastic or irreversible to alter when it doesn't work, in the end I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about these next few years, since I doubt much of what will change will be outside the normal amount that comes with changing presidents and parties. (And as far as people go, I'm looking forward to having an educated, city person in the White House, if you know what I mean. I was in kindergarten when Clinton took office so it's been a while.)
It will be interesting to see where we are in four years and how the Obamamaniacs deal with what will be largely remaining the same, either blocking out reality and his failings or becoming disillusioned.