In the three days after electing President-elect Barack Obama:
1) the Dow has declined almost 1,000 points, 2) Russia has indicated that they intend to place missiles on the border of Poland if we proceed with our missile defense system in Europe3) Russia has indicated that they intend to modify its Constitution to allow for Putin to serve for 12 years,4) Harmid Karzai is demanding a change in our tactics in Afghanistan, and5) Israel has sent a hint that they may need to take the Iranian matter into their own hands since Obama has indicated a penchant for having negotiations with Iran which Israel believes “could be seen in the Middle East as a sign of weakness.”
How many Obama supporters do you think know about the transpiring of these events which have not occurred 1 or 2 years into his presidency, but days after his election? I would venture to say not too many, which is the core of the problem.
Often a candidate’s base of supporters will make their voices heard once that candidate is elected in order to enact their agenda. These supporters are usually engaged on some level with an idea of the history surrounding the issue(s) which attracted them to support their candidate and the belief that he/she would enact their agenda.
While many of the engaged, hard-core left supported Obama for various reasons from abortion rights to global warming to withdrawing from Iraq, the vast majority of his supporters were not previously engaged in politics/policy on any level and were only engaged on the level of electing Obama. With that, the problem we face going forward is that outside of the engaged, hard-core left, many Obama’s supporters will not try to influence him to respond to events in the way they see fit, but will instead accept his interpretation of and solution for these events.
For example, since he’s indicated that talking to Iran directly is a good thing, he could make Israel out to be the unreasonable party since they view his “muscular diplomacy” as a weakness and because most of his supporters have no sense of the past 10-20 years of Middle Eastern affairs, they would side with Obama. Or, since we have to have peace, we should take Russia’s advice and back off of our missile defense idea when it’s the danger of possible Iranian or Chinese missiles that we’re even erecting a missile defense shield in Europe.
Even on the domestic issue side, Obama’s supporters will essentially agree with whatever interpretation and solution that Obama presents because they were not engaged and will likely remain disengaged from the actual mechanics and results of governing. That’s part of the reason why it’s easy for them to believe that people who pay no income taxes can actually get an income tax cut.
An informed electorate is always the best barrier to the excesses of government as seen when immigration reform and even the first bailout were opposed vigorously. The next four years could prove very difficult as many of the people who elected President-elect Obama will have their world view shaped by President-elect Obama.