Tonight you're mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you still love me tomorrow?
- Gerry Goffin & Carole King - 1960
Let us say for the purpose of this discussion that Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination.
Let us say for the purpose of this discussion that Barack Obama triumphs over:
• the brutally vicious attacks of the Republican smear machine
• their charges of him being a "one-page resume" candidate in a dangerous world
• the fear tactics that will be deployed about having a neophyte in charge during the scary terrorist era
• the vast latent (and blatant) racism in America
• the Terminator-like electoral efforts of the social conservatives who know they are just one GOP presidency away from outlawing abortion...
Let us say for the purpose of this discussion that Barack Obama inspires young voters - and the disenchanted who normally abstain - and gains their votes in November.
Let us say for the purpose of this discussion that Barack Obama wins the presidency.
Would that be the fulfillment of Martin Luther King's dream?
Or could that ultimately be the Democratic Party's worst nightmare?
NOT because of any failing of Barack Obama. Far from it.
But because while Barack Obama may be ready - perhaps AMERICA is not.
And in particular millions of America's "gimme now" citizens who live in a world of instant internet, instant messaging, instant coffee and instant fulfillment.
The issue is about the Audacity Of Hope versus the Reality of World.
Raising hope comes with a hefty price.
In our Instant Gratification society - those whose hopes and expectations have been raised - expect results. And they expect them fast.
We have become an "I want it NOW" society.
And if they don't get those results - EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT THE FAULT OF THE PERSON WHO HAS INSPIRED THEM - there is a crash.
It's called reality.
That is NO reason to not hope.
That is NO reason to not raise hopes.
But it IS a reason to think carefully.
Every seasoned politician - and I include Barack Obama in that category - knows that REAL change... DEMONSTRABLE change... LASTING change... takes time. And Herculean efforts over many, many years.
ANY Democratic president elected in November will face MASSIVE opposition to enacting change. From Republicans and the entrenched interests of Big Business.
If Barack Obama is fortunate enough to win the presidency, the changes he wishes to bring will NOT happen instantly.
They will take years and years to effect.
And among those years will be 2010 & 2014 - when the fate of the House and Senate will be determined at mid-term elections.
And 2012 - when his presidency will need to be renewed against what would be a ferocious effort by furious Republicans.
And 2016 - when the Democrats will again need to fight ferociously for the White House (especially if they lose it in 2012).
So the question we MUST ask ourselves NOW - is this:
Will the young voters, and the disenchanted who Obama brings to the party (and the Democratic Party) in November 2008 be there for us in:
• November 2010?
• November 2012?
• November 2014?
• November 2016?
Will the beauty of Obama's inspirational poetry sustain millions of fickle first-time voters through the many, many harsh years that will come with the realities of governing? Especially years when there will be bitter and venal fights for change?
Inspiring the young and disaffected to vote is a noble undertaking.
And Barack Obama deserves our utmost respect and appreciation for what he is achieving.
He (and we) also needs to be sure that he is not inciting expectations that he -- and indeed any president -- is powerless to fulfill among millions of people who (foolishly) expect instant results. And who are known to turn on a dime when they don't get them...
Is this a lasting treasure?
Or just a moment's pleasure?
Can I believe the magic of your sighs?
Will you still love me tomorrow?
- Gerry Goffin & Carole King - 1960