Obama and the security industry

 - 
11/05/2008
Well, the results are in. I'll admit that for the first time in four presidential elections I've been able to participate in, I voted for a major party candidate and voted for Obama. In the end, I threw calculated analysis and tax issues and much of the rest out the window and voted for him because I liked the guy. I'm not ashamed to admit that at all. I think I was finally swayed, embarrassingly enough, by this interview he did with Chris Berman on Monday night: A playoff for college football. Man, that's a good answer. McCain went with performance enhancing drugs in sports, and I agree that's a problem, but that's not an answer a true sports fan would give. While PEDs affect my intellectual appreciation of sports, it doesn't really affect the way I watch the games. I never sit there and watch Manny Ramirez hit a 450-foot blast over the Monster and think, "Gee, I hope he's not on steroids." I think (or rather yell), "Holy smokes, that is a bomb!" Similarly, when Penn State is undefeated and ranked third behind Alabama and Texas Tech and faces the possibility of getting hosed out of the national title game, I think, "You've got to be #@*@*'ing kidding me!" Obama understood that Berman was asking him for a fan's answer, and he gave a fan's answer. And he knew his audience. Obama seems to have an empathetic quality that's rare and impressive, an ability to understand what people are going through and speak to them in their own language. I find that to be one of the most important qualities a person can have, and it's something I've sought to teach my children, to get them to step outside of themselves and their own concerns and to understand what it is the next person is thinking and feeling. I was incredibly proud when my girl's kindergarten teacher told us one of her best qualities was that she doesn't always need to get a turn. When Obama told the American people in his excellent victory speech last night that people would have to make sacrifices, would have to work for a common good, all I could think about was that people needed to understand that sometimes they don't get a turn, and they need to deal with that. I'm a bit of a federalist, and a libertarian, and I believe the governments that run our local towns and states need far more of the attention that we give to these federal issues. I'd like many of the responsibilities of the federal government to be transferred to the states, and I'd like the federal government to stick to its core founding jobs: protect our borders, interact with foreign governments, run the Post Office, insure unadulterated interstate commerce - those kinds of things. So, with those things said, I want a president who empowers us to solve our own problems, who is a powerful and charismatic ambassador for our country, and who is interested in the most-important needs of the people he leads. In the end, I thought Obama was that guy. Plus, he and his speechwriters are some of the most elegant wordsmiths I've ever come across and, as someone who writes for a living, I'm swayed by that on a very gut level. It's really, really hard to write speeches that well. Pundits will now rush to predict the impact of an Obama presidency on the country, and, more pertinently to this blog, on the security industry. Some of you, like John Honovich, will be pretty pessimistic. I understand that impulse. I'm withholding my predictions until I see what kind of cabinet he puts in place, what kind of overall shape his administration will take. It's certainly true that a change of administrations likely to be this drastic will put a few initiatives on hold, and some projects might be delayed, but the vast, vast majority of you, my readers, are not doing government-related work, and a switch of administrations is not going to affect your newly won school project, or condo development (are there any of those going up anymore?), or retail chain installation. The larger economic forces are far more powerful than the head of our federal government right now. I won't jinx things by saying Obama couldn't possibly make the economic environment much worse, but I will say that the current plan isn't exactly coming up roses, so it's worth giving him a shot. Senator McCain's speech last night wasn't quite as eloquent or well put together as Obama's, but his sentiment was equally apt and impressive. He called for his supporters to convey their support to his new president, as he would, and to put their energy toward repairing our tattered country. He was magnanimous and every bit the American hero I've always thought him to be. He wasn't bitter, and I hope those of you out there who were opposed to an Obama presidency will similarly put aside potential bitterness and at least give the guy a chance. Maybe his tax plans suck (that's a sophisticated economic term), maybe his energy plans are pie in the sky, maybe he's naive about the level of enmity that exists for American democracy. We'll certainly find out. But I feel good about the country this morning, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.