Recap of Election 2008

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Here is a quick election recap. For some reason, 12,041 registered Fayette County voters decided not to show up to vote, but an 83.16 percent turnout is quite good.

As you might expect, the presidential race had the most participation with 99.7 percent of the Fayette Countians at the polls casting a vote.

Out of all the countywide elections, Tax Commissioner George Wingo received the most votes with 46,225.

Janet Smola, the School Board, Post One winner, received the fewest votes of all countywide races with 39,543. There were 14,779 voters (24.8 percent of all voters present) who chose not to vote for Smola.

The E-SPLOST vote was a tight one with a 2.12 percent margin of victory. Interestingly, 2,845 voters at the polls chose not to vote on the tax increase (the ballot initiative only won by 1,200 votes). I detest the fact we lied to our senior citizens about not having to pay the previous bonds.

As close as the E-SPLOST was, the magistrate judge, Post 3 was the tightest of all with Robert Ruppenthal edging Sheila Huddleston by 1.58 percent.

History was made when President-elect Barack Obama went from Democratic underdog to the national election’s top dog.

There are some political scientists who are making bold pronouncements about major shifts in our nation’s political culture. I am not so sure.

I think there is an argument for the perfect storm theory as well. First, the Bush administration has to land their plane without instruments, rudderless and with three blown tires. Second, the anger and anxiety caused from drops in 401Ks and job losses were a great motivator to vote the other way.

Third, Obama is African-American and he is not Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. It was also important that he was not perceived as shunning the Caucasian population and being of mixed race origin helped in that regard. He pulled 94 percent of African-American voters and 66 percent of Hispanic voters.

Fourth, the age differential between the candidates was extreme. The almost youthful Obama garnered 66 percent of the under-30 voters and an amazing 70 percent of unmarried women.

Fifth, with Obama’s very short tenure in the Senate, he still appeared as an outsider and someone who could change the old ways. He landed 68 percent of the new voters.

But getting elected is just the start. President-elect Obama’s toughest job of all is choosing the right people to advise him. If you do not believe me, just ask President Bush.

Personally, I think Vice President-elect Joe Biden was a horrible choice. The Obama campaign literally had to lock Biden away to keep him from verbally imploding the election effort. The President-elect would do well for himself to send the Vice President-elect Biden on constant foreign missions to Mongolia, Uzbekistan and faraway islands in the Pacific Ocean.

President-elect Obama has talked a good game about reaching across the aisle, but choosing diehard partisans like Rep. Rahm “Rahm-bo” Emanuel for key posts could make that reach a very short one.

The Obama administration needs to be extremely careful not to step into the Congressional trap. Looks can be deceiving and the Democratic majority is likely to fracture on certain important issues in order to stave off Republican attacks and maintain their seats. Remember, in Congress, it is all about getting re-elected.

Key Obama insiders say he will lead from the center, which means Democrats on the fringe, some of his most vocal supporters, are going to be disappointed. The same insiders are also doing some “high expectations” damage control for the President-elect.

President-elect Obama would be wise to remind his Democratic majority in Congress that his 338 electoral votes is a mandate from the people. As poll numbers indicate, the American public has lost its faith in the Congress’ ability to govern, and a president needs to remember that you cannot “change” anything without a functional Congress willing to engage.

Of course, Republican strategists are praying the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress will swing far to the liberal left with the result being a voter swing back to the right in the next Congressional election. I believe the Speaker of the House from San Francisco just might give them their wish.

The Contract with America kind of appeal the Republicans had back in 1994 has eroded. The Republican leadership is now tainted by lobbyists and scandal. They could not produce ways to change the mediocre system within the Beltway because it was their system; they embraced it and they exploited it. The crushed economy has also been viewed as the Republican’s baby.

Regardless of who is president, I honestly think term limitations for Congress are the best solution for our future. Americans, by their very nature, want to be optimistic about the future, but Congress is making it quite difficult.

We should pray for our president regardless of our political affiliation. Our current national leaders are ignoring the looming problems out on the horizon, and we need to get out of the “government for today” mode and look toward leaving our future generations with the promise of a decent future.

Let’s see where President-elect Obama will take us.

[Steve Brown is the former mayor of Peachtree City. He can be reached at]

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