I had a beer with my friend Jason last night. After discussing women for a while, we moved on to topic with slightly less baggage and heartbreak: politics.
At that point I was challenged to place my expectations of an Obama presidency into a time capsule, so we can check back and see what actually happened in the next few years. Since it seems pretty likely that Obama will defeat McCain, unless he's found in bed with a live boy or a dead woman.
1) Universal health coverage that's a step towards a single-payer health care system. It'll probably still have insurance companies in the loop, unfortunately, but it will be much better than what we have.
2) An Apollo Program-style alternative energy initiative - similar to the JFK initiative, to place a man on the moon in ten years. This would be the intelligent thing to do, and Obama isn't directly beholden to oil company interests, so I think this actually has a high probability of being started.
3) Tax cuts rolled back on the upper class, meaning an effective increase on their current taxes - and lower taxes on the middle class and poor. This fits in clearly with Obama's more Clintonian tax policies, which simply work well. As opposed to trickle-down theories based on the aptly named Laffer Curve, which simply don't work and have never worked.
4) investment in education funding and loans for college - pretty much a done deal.
5) renewed investment in crumbling infrastructure - simply because it has to happen. Our roads, bridges and other structures have been neglected for 7 years now.
6) an EPA that actually goes after companies again.
7) other regulatory agencies actually doing more of their jobs again as well.
8) a considerable reduction of lobbying among all elected officials. Obama's already put this in place for his Presidential campaign - in order for your donation to be accepted, you have to certify that you are not donating on behalf of a corporation, or on behalf of any other individual person - just you, yourself.
So, with this policy already in place for Obama's presidential campaign, I think this is a rather safe prediction.
9) Sadly, a continued Iraq occupation - *but* no attack on iran.
I do think that we will maintain some military presence in Iraq indefinitely. Hopefully the occupation will be less violent, and will settle down to some sort of uneasy peace.
I think the best possible solution to the Iraq issue would be to just split it in 3 nations. Unfortunately that has it's own host of political difficulties to be ironed out - our ally Turkey will be furious about an independent Kurdistan, and Iran will have much more influence over 1/3 of Iraq's oil resources due to their cultural affiliation with their fellow Shiites in Iraq. But in this a bad situation, I think that's the least terrible solution...
No matter what happens, I still expect a continued US military presence until there's no more oil in Iraq. And if other oil remains in the region, possibly even then.
I've never met Obama personally, so for all I know he's fooling me and everyone who's voting for him. *But* an attack or invasion of Iran would be so suicidally stupid for us at this point, that there's no way I see an Obama presidency making this happen - even if the Obama administration were amoral and venal enough to consider it.
10) Finally, it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: my number one expectation that I'm certain Obama can't help but deliver on, is to be better than McCain. We've dodged one huge bullet already: President Giuliani (shiver). If we can just not have the GOP in the White House for the next 4 years, we really have a good chance to undo all of the damage that has been done. And even to move forward.
I remember what it was like, to feel like our country and our world was heading forward on all fronts. It was so nice...