Like many progressives, I'm hopeful that Barack Obama will actually prevail in next Tuesday's presidential election. Having seen Republican corruption up close here in Karl Rove's Alabama, I still think it's possible the GOP will find a way to steal the election. But watchdogs like Mark Crispin Miller and Brad Friedman give me hope that progressives have wised up and won't let it happen it again.
Also, I'm hopeful that an Obama administration will be able to get us back on a healthy track. But the Bush-Cheney cabal is leaving our country in a mess, and no matter what happens next Tuesday, tough times are ahead.
Just listen to a couple of respected editorial voices.
Joseph Galloway, of McClatchy Newspapers, has encouraging words on the electoral front. He says a blowout might be coming for the GOP. "Here's a prediction for you, for them: McCain and Palin will go down to defeat by 15 to 20 points, and they'll take a heap of Republicans down with them."
But Galloway is quick to add some sobering words: "The financial collapse and the painful fallout that's stalking the nation won't be righted overnight. . . . Hard work, sacrifice and suffering lie ahead. It could take a decade or more to repair all the damage Bush, Dick Cheney and all their henchmen in prison, out of prison and on their way to prison have done to our economy, our military, our standing in the world, our Constitution and to civil discourse, common decency, and competent government."
Caroline Baum, of Bloomberg News, has an even more stark assessment. Things are so bad, she says, that the winner might wish he hadn't won.
The "ticking time bomb" for the federal government, Baum writes, is entitlement spending. And neither candidate has offered much of a vision for dealing with Medicare and Social Security.
"I feel sorry for whoever wins the presidential election on Nov. 4," Baum writes. "He faces a colossal mess. The housing bubble is still deflating, with no end in sight. The unemployment rate is rising, making consumer loans of all descriptions--mortgage, auto, credit card--vulnerable to rising delinquencies. . . .
"The next president of the U.S. will be handcuffed by events and constrained by deficits. He'll be playing defense. And he won't have a deep bench to work with."
Part of me would like to see McCain try to deal with a mess that his own party has largely created. Things might get so bad that middle-class white Americans would finally get over the race-based fears and resentments that cause them to automatically pull the GOP lever.
But our country can't afford that. And on the personal front, the Schnauzer household is not buttressed with a cushy trust fund that would allow us to ride out the storm.
So let's hope that Obama wins, and he surrounds himself with smart people who don't mind telling us the painful truths we need to hear. And let's hope we have enough steel in our spines to make the sacrifices and tough choices that will be necessary in order to put us back on solid ground.