Obama’s Nation

We are products of our environment – at least to some level. I spent six years living in Virginia and attending a heavily conservative university – some of the economist professors were avowed Libertarians. I spent two years as the TA for a guy who lived on a private road because he didn’t see why governments needed to own roads.

I still have friends and relatives who live down there and most of them are Republicans and very worried about a liberal President supported by a liberal Congress.

My own feeling is that the Americans needed change and the guy they chose certainly represents that.

I understand Canadian infatuation with him as well even though his policies could cause us some heartburn. He has talked opening up NAFTA and the Congress will be far more protectionist which could cause us challenges. In addition, he will be ramping up the effort in Afghanistan and I suspect he will ask Canada to stay longer and even beef up our presence. It would be hard for us to leave even as the Americans are redoubling their efforts.

Certainly Obama is no saviour and I reject the very notion of the politician saviour. I remember Paul Martin’s acceptance speech vividly – he named all of Canada’s perceived problems one by one – democratic deficit, concentration of power in the PMO, western alienation, health care, aboriginal issues, Atlantic Canada, Canada’s image abroad, on and on – and he was going to fix it all.

If there is one thing I have learned about politics it is that politicians should under promise and over deliver. The alternative is toxic. If people have relatively low expectations and you exceed them, they will love you. If people expect far more than you can ever deliver, they will punish you at the polls.

There’s a lesson in there for Obama and Shawn Graham. By the way, Stephen Harper seems to have gotten this message. His whole stay the course, steady at the helm message in the last election was very understated, IMO.