My work and the trip were on my mind as I flew to Singapore. My schedule didn't allow much election watching, so it was shortly after 12 noon our time that I received an SMS from Veronica saying "Congratulations, your man won". The fate of America approached a defining hour, and passed through while I taxi'd from one appointment to another.
Still, the moment itself, as played back on our evening news, did not disappoint. In my lifetime I have not witnessed such a spontaneous outburst of joy in the entire world (except Russia) on an election result. When I ask myself how this has come about I would answer that a simple contrast led to Obama's white house victory. The encumbent party led by McCain seemed mired in the negative message of fear, nebulous accusations, and for Palin, highly repetitive sound bites. I think Obama's campaign stayed on a message of hope, with rhetoric that gave us a brief respite from the realities of our time. I think this message is what won the day.
The big question before us is how we are going to use this new found hope (assuming you share a sense of hope with me). There is a lot to overcome. I note in the news the return of tribal warfare in the Congo. Russia used the U.S. election to announce the deployment of missles on the Polish border. The stock market plunged 500 points the day after the election as it turned its collective attention back to the real issues of falling business activity and dramatically falling unemployment. Reports Friday tell us there are ten million Americans out of work tonight, the most in twenty-five years. There are likely many more coming into that demographic if the Fed doesn't bail the auto industry. They say they need $50B to survive, but no guarantees they won't need more. Retailers felt the floor fall away in October, harbingers of one of the worse commercial Christmases in our memory. Then there are the state governments themselves, coming under enormous pressure as their tax bases decline rapidly. Investment advise columns tell us we should worry about munis' defaulting. They are going to need some of that fed money also according to talking heads. We shouldn't forget that the Fed has already injected more dollars into the financial system than the annual GDP of Australia. We will have to wait to see the long term impact of such a huge injection of funds, but we can expect that number to grow rather then diminish s the needs line up. Don't forget that Obama is going to raise taxes for some, and is going to need to spend. Hopefully his spending will be wiser then that of the last eight years.
It's a good thing to have a ray of hope now. It is apparent that we face a period of much sacrifice and probably more decline. We need more then ever to nurture that precious commodity, even more then gold, more then oil, maybe even more then wheat. I hope our hope lasts but I think hope is as infectuous as the loss of it. Be sure to share whatever hope you have. You don't actually lose it when you do that. You actually multiply it.