I’ve been reading columnists like Thomas Friedman gush over the Obama victory and it is coming close to hysteria. Friedman says in the NY Times: “Let every child and every citizen and every new immigrant know that from this day forward everything really is possible in America.”
Everything is possible? I disagree. Here’s what the Obama victory tells me about what is possible in America at this level.
(1) You need to be really smart: Barack went to Harvard Law School and became president of the Harvard Law Review. Do you know how hard it is to get into Law Review, let alone be elected president of HLR?
(2) You need lots of money: Obama raised more money than any candidate for public office in the universe.
(3) You need to work extremely hard and be very lucky: Obama spent two years running for office, raising money, getting people to volunteer, etc. The amount of work that went into getting him into the White House is just staggering to think about. It’s actually pretty depressing that it took this much to unseat the Republican Party, despite the horrible economy, fraud on Wall Street, the credit crisis, torture adopted as US government policy, Guantanamo, the incompetent response to hurricane Katrina, the failed war in Iraq, the fiasco in Afghanistan, gross violations of civil liberties in the US, the hideous Homeland Security and TSA, spying, privacy violations . . . the list goes on. Basically, you need a large asteroid to hit the earth before Americans STOP voting for a Republican.
And yet, despite all the problems, according to one poll I saw today, only about 44% of whites voted for Obama.
This is not to say that for immigrants from developing countries, the US is a lousy place. This is to say that unlike Thomas Friedman, I don’t think you necessarily end up with millions of dollars in your bank account, or in the top echelons of US politics, business and academia. The challenges are far greater than native-born Americans like to believe.