One Man

I was having a conversation about the election yesterday with a close friend who I respect and value deeply. He is an Obama supporter and of course, he knew I am a conservative, GOP supporter, and thus voted for John McCain. We got to talking about some of the stereotypes associated with voters from certain backgrounds and how the changing dynamic in this election was completely different from what we usually see, or at least different from previous elections.

His concern was coming from the viewpoint of a christian, specifically how he did not appreciate the criticism from other christians for supporting a liberal, Democrat. His frustration was with the groups who think all christians must vote one way and if you don’t, then you’re not a true christian. Of course, this line of thinking is ridiculous to me. Yes, there are some moral issues that come up during the election, some of which totally do not allow me to vote for someone if their values on the issue are different than mine, but I would never question anyone’s christianity, based on any political issue or support of a candidate. Just as he does not like to be criticised for supporting a candidate, I also do not appreciate being called a religious nut or bigot (or whatever) for supporting conservative values, both social and fiscal. I totally support my friend on this issue and our differences on the viewpoints therein.

But, as we continued to discuss the election dynamics during this cycle, I began to explain to him my biggest concern for us going forward. First of all, let me say that I am moving on from the politics of this race. Of course, I am not the biggest fan of Barack Obama, but I’m behind our President and will do anything I can to further the health of the country, even if that meant working in his administration or something similar. But, there is a basic realization that every American, especially adament Obama supporters, must come to. Barack Obama is one man. Period.

I have never seen so many peo0ple get behind one candidate ever in my life. Obama inspired millions of Americans, on both sides of the aisle. He brought together some of the most divisive groups. He connected with some of the most distant voters. And, he pulled in the support of some of the groups that were least likely to support him. For that, he deserves much credit and recognition. Indeed, now he has received the opportunity of leading our country and I hope he does well at that, because we will hold him accountable. And, man does he have his work cut out for him or what?

But, with all of the inspiration and admiration, I think some people have allowed their admiration for Obama the man to go a little far. I have heard sentiments from people that indicate their expectations that Obama will fix the economy, resolve the war, solve the healthcare crisis, and generally restore stability and security for America and the world. Wow, how would you like to have that responsibility on your shoulders? Further, let me assure you that no one man – not Barack Obama, not Abe Lincoln, not George Washington, not Ronald Regan, not John McCain – can do these things.

Everyone has probably heard the explanation that the Presidency is an institution, not just about one person. Well, this could never be more true than in today’s environment. The Presidency, starting in Obama’s term, has nothing to do with one man, except for the fact that his name is the one at the top of the org chart. Of course, it’s very akin to the corporate model, where the CEO’s name might be at the top, but the real nitty gritty business operations happen in the middle management columns, or more importantly, at the bottom where the general employee population lies.

Many Obama supporters, particularly those that just allowed themselves to be completely and utterly smitten with the man himself, must realize that Obama cannot save this country. In the same way, we all must realize that no one man can bring this country down, so even though it’s often easy to blame George W. Bush for all of our current problems, no one man – not even the President – can destroy this country. That’s how the Founders built it and that’s what makes it so special. No coup, no Party, no rogue can change the fundamental direction of this country. It didn’t happen in 1861, and it won’t happen in 2008.

So, my encouragement to Obama supporters is to continue supporting the President-elect, but understand there is more to it than Barack Obama. This recommendation comes out of concern for him, because too much is at stake for us to be setting him up to fail, and I think that’s what some of his supporters have done without even realizing it. If you give someone too much to handle, then they inevitably won’t be able to adequately address it. Expecting Obama to “save America” or even “change America” is setting yourself and him up for failure, because again, no one man can do that. He can lead, he can manage, he can delegate, but none of those things can directly save or defeat the United States.

I think this election was so unique, because of all the new people that became involved. I’m not just referring to new voters, because in reality, there wasn’t a great deal of more voters compared to 2004. However, more people generally became involved in the political process. Instead of just showing up to vote on Election Day, people got involved with their support online, more yard signs went out, more bumper stickers were plastered all over the place, more money was donated, etc. In general, the process was better off for the increase of interest in the political process that Obama’s campaign was able to stimulate, either for him or the opposition response against him.

We had a great deal of people getting involved, but in the process, I believe many fell victim to what I have described above. Many of these new participants were either looking for inspiration, which they found in Barack Obama, the man; or, they were looking for change of the status quo, which again, they found in Obama and the Democratic Party, because it was different to what is currently in place.

I wonder, though, what will happen when they realize that this man does not have the capability to lift the world up by his own hands. When he doesn’t solve the problem of 46 million uninsured, will people see him as a failure or will they realize that such an initiative is something that will take more than one person or one administration? When President-elect Obama is not able to just “bring the troops home” like he said he would in his campaign, will they label him as a failure like they did Presidents during the 1970’s? Finally, when the country continues to dive deeper into recession, even after Obama moves into the White House, will they ask where the rescue is?

To be honest, I hope he is able to do more than I am giving him credit for, because so much is on the line, but at the same time, I understand how the process works, and I realize that this country’s success or failure is not built around one man or one office. It’s all about you and me, because we’re ultimately President-elect Obama’s boss.

It is truly a humbling issue, because in the end, Mr. Obama will realize something that we should all subscribe to here and now and that is no one has the ability to do all of the things he talked about on the campaign. The only way these things will be possible are through the strength of God and whatever His will is for this country. Until we accept that, we’re all setting ourselves up for failure.

So, let’s accept these things and let’s support the new President. While we’re at it, let’s stop trying to blame everything on the outgoing guy or on one party, because none of that helps anything. All we can do is look forward and focus on the things we can do, together as a country. We cannot put our faith in the President, I don’t care whose candidate he was. But, we can start thinking about coming together to figure out how we – as a country – are going to solve our problems.