Barack and the Presidency, Great Expectations?
by James Glaser
October 13, 2008

The story you are about to read is true,
only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It all started last week at a major department store here in Tallahassee. John was a supervisor working the day shift in the yard goods department, when he heard a call on his walkie-talkie for a supervisor to come to the camera department, but he ignored it as it wasn't in his section.

A few minutes later the call went out again, and soon after that the camera department requested security. John was close by, and he decided to walk on over and see what was going on and if he could help. Patty, the camera department clerk, was behind the counter standing by the cash register with big eyes, open wide with confusion and concern. Immediately to her left, behind the counter with her was an African American gentleman. He was standing there as if frozen, unsure as to what he should do next. The reason he was just standing there was that a middle aged white woman had him trapped in there with her shopping cart that was wedged into the only entrance/exit opening in the rectangular shaped camera display counter. So Patty, the white clerk, and the customer, a black male, were trapped in there.

As John walked up, he addressed Patty and asked her if everything was alright. It was clearly not. But he started sizing up the situation and saw that not only were the clerk and the man caught in that small space but that the woman with the offending cart was ill, either about to have a epileptic seizure, or something even more serious. Without addressing Patty and the black man, he immediately started talking to the woman, and helped her ease the cart out of the way and found her a place to sit down, as he asked Patty to call for medical help.

As far as emergencies in the store and proper protocol go, everything was working by the book, but as the black man slipped out of the cubicle, he started on his way, turning to say to John and the sick woman, "When Obama gets in office, shit like this will come to an end."

You can't make this stuff up. First off, I don't know (neither did John) what offense this momentarily trapped customer took with how the situation was handled. He wasn't hurt, and nothing disparaging was said or intimated to him. The only thing I can figure is that some sort of anger was already kindled in that man. I'm thinking it is an anger that has caused him to pin his hope on Barack Obama to make things right for him.

No, his comment and anger didn't make any sense to me, but it tells us what some of the people voting for Barack Obama believe will happen when he is elected. Either Senator Obama has built up expectations about what he will be able to do, or there are people in our society who have envisioned positive changes to come in their daily lives with an Obama presidency, that are a product of their own thinking and imaginations.

Obama talks about "hope," but false hope can be devastating. I have to ask, hope for what? Like the man in the store, hope that they don't cross paths with sick people? I have heard the people on the radio call-in shows with trembling voices talk of the joy they have in Barack Obama's getting his Party's nomination. But is it a hope that will be dashed and result in what I have read in some columns that predict riots in the streets if Obama loses the election. But that's negative thinking, isn't it. Let's be positive.

Let's say he wins. What happens then?

Obviously, the African American man in that department store has expectations about what Barack Obama will be able to do if he is elected, but he is not alone. Many people think Obama is the second coming of John F. Kennedy, but these people only remember the hype about Kennedy, and fail to understand that Kennedy was historically a mediocre president at best.

Like Kennedy, Obama has lofty ideas, and for many, an inspiring rhetoric, but what most people fail to understand is the fact that the "stuff" of campaigns is seldom the reality of the post-election governance. That warrants repeating—the "stuff" of campaigns is seldom the reality of the post-election governance.

What happens when the people who have placed all their hopes and money into the Obama campaign are hit with the reality that a President Barack Obama is going to have to deal with the same problems that every President has... one of which, and perhaps the biggest, is the U.S. Congress.

Everything Barack Obama has talked about wanting to do will have to pass through the filter of Congress, and those plans will morph into something totally different. Money constraints will change everything. Washington has just spent over a trillion dollars on trying to help Wall Street, and Nancy Pelosi is talking about spending another 150 billion on a new stimulus package.

Barack Obama is one man—one politician. We have to remember that 535 other politicians will be either returning to Washington or will be coming there for the first time to serve in the House or the Senate. Every one of those 535 politicians have their own idea of what they want to do, and every one of them, like Barack Obama, has made their own campaign promises.

Some of those promises will overlap with those of the new President, but many will not.

Maybe what some folks are saying is true. The expectations of Barack Obama's candidacy may very well be setting up this country for riots, sooner if he loses or later if he wins.

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