For those of you living under a rock, Barack Obama is now the President-elect of the United States, and will take office in only a few short months.
Here in D.C., the celebrations are everywhere. People have been on the streets, yelling and screaming, cars honking, reveling their victory well into the night. In my opinion, however, this celebration will be short-lived, and in only a few years people will be asking themselves what went wrong.
Obama, despite all of his talk of uniting America, is nowhere near a centrist. He is far left on the American political spectrum. Without going into policy specifics, I predict that once he takes office, this man, whose charisma and oratorical skills are his only real selling points, will disappoint a large number of those who voted for him.
The celebrating crowds remind me of other celebrations due to a political victory. In 1999, another popular man won a big political victory, and his supporters celebrated well into the night of those elections as well. Ehud Barak was elected to the post of Prime Minister of Israel, over Benjamin Netanyahu, by a wide margin of 12 percentage points (during the short period in which direct elections for prime minister were held). At the time, his victory was considered a landslide. Yet less than two years later, maligned by a megalomaniacal, failure of a prime minister, who led the country into an unsuccessful capitulation, the public unceremoniously kicked Barak to the curb. In 2001, Ariel Sharon (on whom my views are the topic for another time) beat Ehud Barak by a margin of nearly 25 percentage points.
Cheap, demagogical populism does not last very long. The quick ascension of one Barak was followed by an even quicker downfall, and I think the same will happen to this Barack. I just hope we’ll all still be around to see it.
UPDATE: Soccerdad also has an analogy of Barack’s victory to Ehud Barak’s rise and fall.