I hope WE can live up to the promises we made. More than anything else, and this is the number one reason I think Obama is truly a transformative politician, I have been amazed by the way people respond to his example: he is calm and respectful, so they stay calm and respectful. He demonstrates a belief in the power of individuals and communities to change the world, so individuals and communities step up to effect change.
In some ways it doesn't even matter if you're right and he is a big phony. His supporters believe in him, and I believe that the model he creates for them makes them better people. I just hope they keep watching him, and that he keeps acting with wisdom.
I didn't mean to imply that Obama is a phony. To the contrary, I think he's exactly what he says he is: an organizer. The voter turnout yesterday showed as much, and I applaud him and all the people involved. Make no mistake, I'm genuinely thrilled with the election results (with the exception of CA measure 8). So far, he's a great leader.
I'm wary because in my lifetime, I've only been disappointed by politics. Even Bill Clinton didn't accomplish all I'd hoped he would, and was bogged down by scandal after scandal. Every other president I've known has been a Bush. (I barely remember Reagan, but I remember not liking him.) Democrats have to go back to Kennedy to remember this kind of hope, and look what happened to him.
Obama's campaign leaves even me, a non-believer, believing that good times are ahead, that all the country's problems will be solved: we're going to save the earth, the economy, education, and health care, and even the doomed war in Iraq will magically end in peace. Maybe he'll even find Bin Laden. I've got high expectations for this guy, and I don't even like him that much.
But I think your point bears repeating: It's not what Obama is going to do for the country, it's what he's going to inspire us to do for ourselves. I suppose I can only hope that he continues to inspire.
For months I've been trying to think about what an ideal president should be. I want a president who is smart and articulate, who knows how to use strategy (as opposed to strategery) in both war and government, who doesn't know everything and makes frequent use of expert advisors, who knows how to ask questions and analyze a situation, who can consider the big picture, and who believes in civil liberties. It's been a long time since we've had a truly inspiring leader, but I think it's time to add that to my list.