My dad told me recently, since the election, that he was yet to see this change that “has come to America.” I disagree, but not because I see a grand change to the country, but a small change in myself. I noticed myself reading Ron Paul’s article on where the GOP should go on CNN today. I have agreed with some of his ideas before, and I’m interested to see if he can lead the GOP out of the culture war and into libertarianism, because I think I could support something like that, and I’d like to see it happen. I caught myself, a life long democrat, a bit surprised. You see, now things are scary.
Now, for the first time in my adult life I’m politically without a safety net. I turned 18 during Bush’s first term in office. I had no say in that first contest, and could not be blamed, but already I could cite “I told you so” in my defense. Anything, and everything Bush did wrong was tempered by the fact that he was the other guy, and it was the guy the other people chose who was being so stupid, power hungry, disrespectful of the rule of law and the constitution, ineffective, and wrong. Through it all there was a tinge of rude laughter, “I told you so.” I saw a video during the campaign of a female republican pundit who claimed again and again that no one could see the disasters of the Bush presidency ahead of time. On each issue she broached, I made note that I had seen it coming. Save for the financial crisis of the current year, I did not see that coming, but I don’t attribute it to Bush in any meaningful way either. To be clear, I didn’t see it all in 2000, but I saw it all before it happened.
Now things have changed. If Obama screws up I can not hide behind my cynicism as I have advocated publicly for him. If he leads the country down the wrong path then I am partly to blame. It’s a small part, but it leaves some small part of me looking for the next idea to hide behind. But I can not; I have only to sit in a metaphorical corner crying “Oh shit, what have I done” should he make the wrong choices. That or take solace in the belief that the other guy would have done no better. That doesn’t seem like a message of hope, it is a fear of failure. When all there is, is hope, the fear of failure is small, when a beacon of hope arrives the chance of failure comes with it and the tinge of fear that we won’t be able to make the change is itself a change.