A hazardous mandate

Editor's note: Shay Stewart-Bouley wrote this as a possible alternative for her Diverse-City column this week. We ran her first column, but wanted to share this second viewpoint with you as well!

_by Shay Stewart-Bouley

You might be expecting me to gloat over the results of the presidential election. But I'm not going to. Hell, this is a "blue" state; most of y'all voted for Barack Obama just like I did. Besides, I'm not big into gloating anyway. I'm more of a "let's stop slapping each other on the backs and get to work trying to save our country from destruction" kind of gal.

Maybe I'll gloat if things are markedly better in four years and we find that not only has Obama more than proved his mettle but he soundly defeats his next Republican challenger as well.

No, while I'm giddy with joy that we've finally broken the racial brick ceiling in the presidency, I am far from feeling smug about the election results. Because for one thing, it's not like Obama has an overwhelming mandate. Sure, he snagged two-thirds of the electoral college votes, but in the popular vote, he got about 53 percent. A win is a win is a win, of course, but that popular vote reminds me that plenty of people (46 percent of them in fact) still didn't want that black man in the White House, for whatever reason. Whether race, or the fear he will convert the nation into a socialist dictatorship, or that he will hand out abortions on every street corner, or that he will outlaw religion and guns, or that he is a secret terrorist - or for whatever reason - nearly half the nation still wanted John McCain and Sarah "You Betcha" Palin to lead us into the future.

Obama does have a mandate. And he doesn't. He still has to find out how to unite the nation behind the cause of fixing what ails us, socially, economically, and medically.

It should be noted that not only do we have a Democrat back in the White House (well, he'll move in mid-January, anyway), but the Senate and House will both be controlled by the Dems as well.

On the one hand, this looks good to someone like me. Everyone should be pretty much on the same page. Congress won't be trying to block (or impeach) Obama at every turn. Things might actually get done for a change.

Or maybe not. Or worse yet, what if bad things get done?

The rational part of my brain looks at what has become of our country, especially with the recent economic meltdown, and tells me: The Democrats couldn't possibly do any worse than the George W. Bush administration did. But I never would have thought someone could have found a part of the barrel this far down after the Clinton years brought us back to a more solid fiscal foundation, so there's that pessimistic part of me that wonders if we're really scraping the bottom yet - or are anywhere near it.

I fear that now that they don't have any serious opposition, the Democrats may get complacent. Even with all the crises facing us, will they simply wallow in the power they now have and get all giddy with excitement, and forget that they actually need to save all of us from disaster?

It doesn't seem likely, but stranger things have happened, like Dubya getting elected - twice. And Sarah Palin being elevated to the spotlight. And Fox News calling itself "fair and balanced." Not to mention the notion that Paris Hilton has any kind of career.

I'm a big fan of diversity. There still is some diversity in our national legislature, so it's not like the Dems are unchecked, but with majorities in both houses and control of the White House, I am a little worried.

Not simply because the Dems may fumble their opportunity, but because even if they try their damnedest and make the best possible choices, things may still end up going to hell in a handbasket, and then the other side (who got us in this mess to begin with) can say, "See, they can't handle it even when they hold all the cards."

Shay Stewart-Bouley can be reached at

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