Tip O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." I watched my sister and even my bookkeeperwho hadn't voted in decadescheer
when Barack Obama rose far above John McCain in November.
Clearly, there was a mandate and Obama's oratory and messages seemed to inspire voters across the country. Indiana's red-to-blue political change also revealed where conservatives now reside: not in major urban Indiana counties.
Obama is a fellow who wanted a job running arguably the world's largest and most charged economy. He wanted this job even though the country is facing three concurrent wars: Afghanistan, Iraq and the ostensible war on terror. The military machine is churning at full pace and is glowing red-hot under the pressure.
Obama was elected initially on a promise of health care for all, although the health care industry itself is in deep crisis. It's a reform distracted by deep economic malaise, and a near uniform abhorrence of basic U.S. industry -- with the poster children of the Big Three automakers as mastheads of what's gone wrong with U.S. technology and business sense.
There are no subtleties in what happened: Economics have smashed them, because of their slavery to Wall Street and their incapacity to meet market demands. That same slavery has sucked the capital reserves from countless business segments, and core industry pain is both uniform and impossible to ignore.
Were that insufficient, the overripe mortgage-lending system has caused a catastrophic change in business finance, with a side effect of damaging stock assets almost uniformly. Distrust of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve and lenders in general (with credit-card companies amplifying consumer pains) has caused hostility that Saddam Hussein could only have dreamed of.
Obama assumes the presidency when divisiveness among varying social agendas is also at its peak. Distraction from core problems abounds. The red herring of gay marriage/unions and whether a creche is appropriate on any type of public property only betrays the fact that Americans are feeling very wounded.
States and cities are screaming for infrastructure capital. Public and private pension plans are underfunded, as we all thought the economy had no chance of contracting. Printing money to offset this deflation hasn't seemed to trickle down to the newly jobless, and the long-term underemployed. Will public-works projects get workers back on the payrolls? I drive by the old Market Square Arena site and watch the rubble from the RCA Dome being carted away and I wonder: These are public sites. How will they live again to serve the public?
America, Indiana and Indianapolis may be in a depression, but more important, we're becoming depressed. Barack Obama inherits a job where there's a sufficient amount of diversity in problems to drive sane people mad. There'll be a honeymoon period. Much work may be accomplished, and certainly there's a lot to be done. The devil, you see, is in the details.
Henderson is managing director of ExtremeLabs Inc., a local computer analysis firm.