Why Obama Won

In 2009, Barack Obama will be at the helm of this nation. For better or for worse, the votes are in. Some Americans see the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the White House as a road to tyranny. Others are enthusiastic about the next four years.

But why did Obama win this election?

Let me come clean and say I did not support Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency. I didn’t support John McCain, either. I just want to take a step back and review what led this country to elect him and not his opponent.

McCain’s Downfall
It was not impossible for a Republican candidate to win the 2008 election. Perhaps it was improbable, but not impossible. While the Bush legacy divided this country, and created a wedge within the Republican Party, the reasons John McCain failed in his bid for the presidency lie less in the murky waters of George W. Bush, but instead at the feet of only one person: John McCain himself.

John McCain has been out of touch with the Republican base for a number of years, often compromising with rivals across the aisle, even at the expense of his own Party. His centrist views have not endeared him with Republicans. Miraculously, McCain acquired his Party’s nomination for President, a fact still mystifying to some of those to the political right.

McCain’s “straight talk” resembled John Kerry’s flip-flopping. When confronted with the possibility of an economic recession, he insisted the economic fundamentals of this country were strong. When proven wrong, McCain switched his story and claimed he was one of the few who “saw it coming”. At another time, he assured us an engagement in Iraq would be a piece of cake only to later say he was an early critic of that school of thought. The list goes on and on.

His lack of confidence didn’t help him either. Whether in front of the press or an audience, McCain failed to emerge knowledgeable or reassuring on the issues. When speaking his deliveries appeared clumsy, and while answering questions his policies seemed weak. For example, during the debates Barack Obama tore apart McCain’s healthcare plan not once, but twice. McCain should have responded with beefier defenses, but instead one was left to conclude his healthcare plan just didn’t add up.

McCain wanted to have his cake and eat it too. While admittedly in-between a rock and a hard place, his crowning of Obama as a socialist didn’t fly without a denunciation of the recent eight year expansion of government, which he chose to purposely avoid critiquing. This was typical McCain. He didn’t wish to appear in bed with Bush, but neither did he want to distance himself. A clear example is the Wall Street bailout, which he supported, turning off a strong Republican base by siding with the President and Barack Obama. This was the wrong move at a time when the Republican Party wished to shift right, while McCain firmly stood for the neo-conservative policies of the current administration.

On the topic of abortion, as John Médaille said recently, McCain wasn’t pro-life but rather “anti-abortion”("Pro-Life or Just Anti-Abortion?"). Supportive of embryonic stem cell research, disinterested in overturning Roe v. Wade or banning contraceptives, the relationship between the pro-life movement and McCain was an uneasy one at best. For some pro-lifers, McCain was the compromise necessary in order to “stop Obama.” But a vote against someone doesn’t radiate loyalty for the person one is voting for. So, while Republicans were treated to the typical “better than…” in the 2004 presidential election, and “a vote for ______ is a vote for Obama” in 2008, both tactics failed this time around.

According to statistics, during the 2000 presidential election, 50% of Catholic voters supported Gore to Bush’s 47%. The 2004 campaign targeting Catholics for the Republican vote successfully brought in a majority percentage for George W. Bush, with a 5% lead. During this last election, the trend shifted to the Democrats with a nine percent increase. (Source: http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=367)

In the final analysis, Republicans just didn’t have a good candidate here. If Dole, Bush, and McCain are the best and brightest the Republican Party can come up with, maybe they should pack it in and step aside for another Party to replace them.

Obama Rising
We haven't experienced an articulate, energetic, and charismatic candidate in years. Dole, Gore, Bush, and Kerry have been as interesting as watching the paint dry. Obama displayed tact, eloquence, and reminded some of Reagan or Kennedy, both phenomenal orators. Barack Obama spoke directly to his followers and addressed their concerns as no other candidate in recent memory. He did so with poise, exuberant speeches, and a mobile, dynamic network.

For his opponents, Obama supporters were a mindless mob mystically following the Pied Piper. But did they throw away their reason or is it possible Obama won this election because he connected with the common man?

From the beginning, the Presidential candidate ran an inclusive campaign and outreach program aimed at swing voters exhausted with sixteen years of Clintons and Bushes. America was ready to unite and move forward, and Obama wouldn’t lower himself to the "us vs. them" mentality between the common man and the establishment. Instead, he appealed to Americans willing to change this country for themselves, as admittedly the tough challenges ahead could not be solved by government, but only by the people of this nation, from community to community. By acknowledging the bureaucracy of the State could not solve everything, but required the work of the “average joe,” Obama reiterated the famous speech given by J.F.K. that we should not ask what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country. This passionate plea for recruitment to his cause by the common man came at a time when individuality and community struck citizens as a natural alliance, lost after decades of self-interest.

Remarkably, Obama also spoke candidly about the concerns of African-Americans, yet he didn't fail to fairly portray those of whites in the United States. In an age of “hate whitey” and labeling the genuine concerns of whites as “racist,” the President-elect spent a good 45 minutes talking about the stalemate of racial discussion in our nation. He pointed to disenfranchised African-Americans, and in a surprise move, acknowledged the concerns white Americans have with respect to immigration, job-loss, and a fractured welfare program in need of a serious overhaul. He did it, and did so without the media “moderating” the discussion, which in this writer’s opinion has been the problem all along with the racial divide in this country.

Obama even managed to launch a coup by acquiring the support of many prominent and noteworthy figures within the Republican Party. A number of these, concerned with the neo-conservative takeover of the Party by the Religious Right (who I call the Nationalist Right, because of their supreme love for the American Mythos), switched sides because they believed Obama’s plan was a better alternative to the policies of the previous two terms.

This was an exercise to briefly analyze why Barack Obama won. Will his election prove to be a substantial help towards a distributist society? Some of my fellow distributists will disagree with me, but my answer is no, he will not. I do believe we can learn something from this election, especially in regard to presentation. But in the final analysis, neither Obama nor John McCain is right for the future of this nation. We can only quarrel amongst ourselves about who is better than the other, as we have done throughout the campaign. Instead, our urgent cause needs us to work towards more important objectives, and one of them is recognizing the opportunity in our midst to transform the priorities of a nation, by understanding how this election was won.

The work ahead will not come from above (except by God’s Grace) but from the bottom up.


Anonymous,  Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 4:33:00 PM CST  

In other words . . . Obama had the better marketing team. The One Party System lives! Look at the people he surrounds himself with. First pick: Rahm Emmanuel, who famously said he would have voted to invade Iraq even if he had know beforehand there were no WMDs; has never met a Palestinian he wouldn't dispossess (on a good day),led the charge for NAFTA, etc. Hilary "I'd obliterate Iran" Clinton for Secretary of State. Gates for Secretary of Defense; what's his position on Iraq,Iran and any other war you can come up with? I don't know, just ask his current bosses, Bush and Cheney. Larry Summers tops the short list for Treasury. You remember Larry: once recommended that developed countries should dump their toxic waste on Third World countries because, after all, those folks don't live that long anyway. Hell, they've never even heard of Starbucks. And, oh, there's Tom Daschle -- pro-abortion Catholic to head HHS. At least we'll have a "Faithful Citizen" to oversee the dismantling of whatever meager restrictions currently stand in the way of Choice, and he'll get to undo the Bush peoples' last minute attempts to protect so-called conscience rights.

Nice going Faithful Citizens. Thanks for giving us yet another four, eight, who knows how many more years of Neocon rule. With one and only one difference between this regime and the last one: abortion.

Oh, I almost forgot: what does all this mean for distributism? Are you serious? Talk to the hedge fund guys who bankrolled Obama two-to-one over McCain. They're known to be big fans of Chesterton, Belloc, Quadrigesimo Anno, etc.

Richard Aleman Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:15:00 PM CST  

Oh, I almost forgot: what does all this mean for distributism? Are you serious? Talk to the hedge fund guys who bankrolled Obama two-to-one over McCain. They're known to be big fans of Chesterton, Belloc, Quadrigesimo Anno, etc.

Dear Mr. Sarsfield,

I would agree with most of your assessment, but it doesn't pertain to the piece. The article was about Obama's win and how he acheived it, something many people have dismissed as a fluke.

I also stated clearly that Obama, in my opinion, is not good for Distributism (as neither is McCain), nor did I vote for him.

Bush's last minute attempt to protect conscience rights is too little, too late. Boasting of a majority Republican Congress during his first term, he would have been in the right position to introduce this type of legislation, not today, when he is swamped with Democrats ready to cut it down.

I can't defend what I haven't written, but I would agree with most of what you have written.

RP Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 9:46:00 PM CST  

"In the final analysis, Republicans just didn’t have a good candidate here. If Dole, Bush, and McCain are the best and brightest the Republican Party can come up with, maybe they should pack it in and step aside for another Party to replace them."

Im New to the political scene and will be voting in the next presidential election. I've heard people calling Obama a socialist and I wanted to see if they were right. Obviously they weren't. I have never heard of Distributism but would like to know, how do its policies stack up against capitalist, socialist, democratic, and Republican views? Also if Obama at least doesn't screw up terribly, we may very well see a new regime of Democratic leaders and policies. If the Republican party were to fall and lose its power, Would another party rise to take its place? Would we have a one party system? Or would several parties rise (none of which would have any chance of recieving an electoral majority over the democrats in this situation). Also any other info on these topics would be appriciated.

Anonymous,  Friday, November 21, 2008 at 4:34:00 AM CST  

We will have to see which side Obama takes on the War On Workers at home.

But, clearly he was the better choice if you care about ending the unjust war in Iraq.

And maybe, Rahm will get better orders and direction than he received from the Klintons.

Give the guy a chance.

-Tom Laney

Anonymous,  Friday, November 21, 2008 at 6:08:00 AM CST  

Another thing is that it is getting increasingly difficult to win an election in this country if you're telling the truth.

I don't think any of the politicians will deliver on Distributism. They are all in the employ of the Capitalists. The Capitalist are not going to go quietly.

So how would we win Distributism?

Don't we need some sort of Populist Movement?

-Tom Laney

Richard Aleman Friday, November 21, 2008 at 11:10:00 AM CST  

Hi Tom,

We have yet to see if he will or will not pull out of Iraq. In addition, if Obama makes good on his promise to push FOCA through, he will have quiet a fight on his hands.

You are correct that we need a populist movement, but I continue to contend that we will not win on a political front.

What we need to do will have to be done ourselves.

I have to finish part two of the Solzhenitsyn article, but after that, my next piece will be on this very topic.

Anonymous,  Friday, November 21, 2008 at 1:35:00 PM CST  

Excellent article, Richard!

In the final analysis, Republicans just didn’t have a good candidate here. If Dole, Bush, and McCain are the best and brightest the Republican Party can come up with, maybe they should pack it in and step aside for another Party to replace them.


The Constitutionalist third-party candidate received my vote this election.

We must escape this vicious cycle of voting for the lesser of two evils. If we don't stand up for what we believe, we'll continue to be spoon-fed candidates (and from where they get them, who knows!) who don't measure up.

Personally speaking, neither of the major party candidates will have my vote until they wake up and hear the unborn babies crying.

Again, this article was excellent. Thank you!

Tom Laney Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 8:57:00 AM CST  

When faced with two major candidates one of whom promises to continue an unjust and unconstitutional war; and, a candidate who promises to end that war, the choice is clear. So is our duty.

Do Presidents break promises, of course.

But I believe Obama is going to end this insane wear in Iraq very soon. I also believe Obama will care for our wounded.

Richard Aleman Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 4:33:00 PM CST  

When faced with two major candidates one of whom promises to continue an unjust and unconstitutional war; and, a candidate who promises to end that war, the choice is clear. So is our duty.

Hi Tom, I hate to disagree with you, but in this case, I must. It is not our duty to vote. It is our right. Whether we exercise it or not, is up to the individual.

I have no reason to believe the choice is clear at all, considering Obama is for the Freedom of Choice Act, and that I cannot overlook.

Also, I have no more reason to believe Obama will end the war, than I do that McCain would have ended abortion.

I just want to be clear on this point for the benefit of our readers. Once again, my hopes do not lie in the Federal government, nor in the presidency.

My greatest hope is in my rosary.

Aged parent Monday, December 1, 2008 at 5:43:00 PM CST  

It was good to read an article like this. I found it very well thought out.

Is it not interesting, though, that so many Americans voted for a man openly, proudly, happily pro-abortion and pro-buggery? The stench of that corruption of the voting public should fill many a nostril.

Some naively ask us to "give the man a chance." A chance? To do what? To act on his stated goals? Presumably people who ask us to give him a "chance" are referring to a hopeful end to the warmongering policies of the previous administration. But even if Obama brings the troops back here (which is highly unlikely) that still leaves us with a man near-deranged in his efforts to shove homosexuality and child-murder down our throats.

And many cheer him on. And 54 per cent of Catholics cheer him on. Incredible. In cases like this, where millions will vote such a man into public office or buy by the millions books like "The DaVinci Code" or sit in front of their tvs and watch rubbish like "The Simpsons" or attend Catholic Masses officiated by priests in clown uniforms I can only be reminded here of Belloc's famous line which reads: "We sit by and watch the barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his cosmic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond; and on these faces there is no smile."

John Médaille Monday, December 1, 2008 at 7:42:00 PM CST  

I suspect that most people who purchased The DaVinci Code were fundamentalists who voted for McCain. And I have never seen a clown mass. I have no doubt that it has happened; I have great doubt that it happens with any regularity. And I like the Simpson's; I think it is great satire. Did you see the episode where Bart and Homer become Catholics, and Marge and Ned-dididly Flanders set out to "rescue" them? Great!

I don't know the context of Belloc's remark, but I'm sure it could apply to many politicians.

Of both parties.

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