They’ve started already. Obama still has several weeks to wait before he becomes President, but the critics are in full throat. On the outer banks of the “left,” the cry is going up: Obama is too conservative. On the far right, you can hear the cry: Obama is a fiscally irresponsible interventionist. Who are these people? And what fantasy world do they live in?
Obama lives in the real world, a world in which nearly half of America’s voters went with the other guy for President… a world in which at least half of the Senate and many members of the House – Democrats as well as Republicans – are reluctant to steer the ship of state into uncharted waters. It is also a world in which China’s premier, Hu Jintao (right), watches closely, with $1.9 trillion of American currency in his treasury and trillions more in IOUs, and waits for us to ask him to lend us trillions more… a world in which venomous enemies plot to do us mortal harm, and former allies measure every move the new administration makes, as shy as wild turkeys in hunting season…
In the real world dramatic changes can bring disaster. Would you have wanted to live in France during the French Revolution? Russia after the Bolsheviks seized power? Or China under Chairman Mao?
The most successful changes have occurred through evolution, not revolution. Even the American War of Independence brought cautious change in people’s lives. True, the government changed radically, but the new nation’s institutions steadfastly followed the British pattern. And even then, thousands of colonists fled the new America to seek a home in Canada or the Caribbean. Change is risky. Abrupt change is extremely risky.
As long ago as the 16th Century, a wise man named Niccolo Machiavelli wrote:
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
I watch and I wait as Obama assembles his troops, coaxes old foes to join his movement, reassures nervous skeptics and carefully lays the foundation for change – brick by brick. As he said in one of his books, he learned that when he is among white people his best tactic is to smile and make no sudden moves.