I remember exactly where I was two years ago today. It was about 11pm, and I had just flipped on a repeat of the local news to see a story about a Chicago politician who was being whispered to potentially challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. It was a long shot. Clinton had the establishment behind her, and the money in the bank to overcome any potential nuisance of a challenger that could come along. However, the national media had not had a good opportunity to get to know this challenger from the Chicago political establishment. And once they did? Well, it was love at first sight…and it continues to be the longest make out session we’ve ever seen.
I’m not surprised by the history being made during this election. The first black party nominee, and the first female on a national ticket for the Republicans, represents a maturity of the American electorate that is long overdue. However, I am surprised by the outright lack of understanding of how we got to this point. Simply, the media have taken over our electoral process, and they refuse to give it back.
With the emergence of a 24 hour news cycle, there are some that just put the hype of an Obama presidency as natural. I would argue that there is nothing natural about creating political superstars. ObamaTV took over our airwaves, and there was no one there to stop it. In October of 2007 the media was quick to say that he ‘captivated audiences with a feeling of hope’. Two weeks later, the Obama campaign printed up a million posters with the ‘Hope’ message front and center. The daily advertising messages became a part of a never ending news cycle. In many ways, the coverage of the campaign became an experience in how the world is portrayed. And we just were fortunate enough to live in it.
It is very difficult to look at the numbers, and not predict an Obama victory. However, I do think things will be closer than the projected landslide. I still believe this country is center right. What for me will be most interesting to see over the next few years is how Obama manages expectations. The ‘chosen one’ has millions looking up to him in the sky, and expect ‘Change’. And although most can’t tell you what that change looks like, they know things will be different. And the media will be ready to embark on a new identity as well. They eventually will get bored with Barack Obama. The same media that has put him in a position to become president will be the one’s that will tear him to shreds when he doesn’t deliver on many of the things that have been hard to imagine ever taking place to begin with. This election has never been about issues. It’s been about restoring a sense of pride to an electorate that has been beaten and bruised. National psyche will always trump a tax plan.
Let’s hope that in four years we will feel better about ourselves. If we don’t? Just turn on the TV, and you’ll be told how to fix it.