For those of you who have been spending way too much time in lab, Barack Obama is the new President of the United States and the entire world beyond America’s borders has breathed a sigh of relief. Despite warnings that I would move to Switzerland if McCain won, I was honestly ready to accept either candidate as President tonight. They both understood that fundamental change was needed; however, I was never convinced that John McCain’s version of change would have had long-term positive consequences. He did prove to me that he wasn’t going to be just another GW Bush, but when a small-government Republican has become a “maverick,” that signals something wrong not just with Bush but with the party as a whole.
I, like many scientists, am economically conservative and believe that big government is bad. I wanted, badly, to believe that the classical Republican vision of small government was achievable even within my lifetime…unfortunately, that’s just plain not the case. McCain’s plan to cut taxes was ambitious to a fault and looked unachievable, particularly in the hands of a Democratic Congress. It would’ve been downright impossible, for example, to lower the corporate tax rate by 10% and expect a corporate business boom to compensate for it. A tax cut that ambitious in this economic environment would simply shut the government down outright and scare future entrepreneurs even more. That said, I liked John McCain’s tax plan a lot, particularly his credit for R&D investments and ban on Internet taxes. I hope he pushes the strong points of his tax plan through Congress as aggressively as possible.
Although I agreed with many of McCain’s economic ideas, you simply can’t put a price on the reputation points America earned tonight by electing Barack Obama. In the long run, Obama will be a better decision for American foreign policy, no matter his level of experience, because we can start to rebuild relationships with foreign countries (hopefully) from the ground up. Faith in the American spirit has been renewed, and achieving that was worth enduring a shitty economy, if you ask me.
Then again, I’m just a chemist…what do I know?
EDIT: Man, this whole post makes me sound like kind of an asshole. I’m really nice in person, promise. Here’s my election promise to you, dear readers: No more politics in 2008!