Delighted as I am about Obama’s win, I suspect that as ever he will disappoint. His oratory was just breathtaking in his victory speech, but then I remember nearly being moved to tears at Blair’s dawn election speech at County Hall 11 years ago, even though I already knew Blair’s politics were Christian Democrat at best.
Obama though is a bit different. His ability to garner such enthusiasm among the young, his race, his fantastic unflappability and his undoubted talent may mean that he will do things that surprise us. He does not, unfortunately, have the 60 40 majority in the Senate needed to prevent filibustering, and that may be his excuse for not doing things that the Left of his party would like to see.
But what will he mean for the environment and transport? I suspect he will send out the same mixed message that Brown has done. He will talk Green but at the same time support low gas prices and do nothing to try to wean Americans out of their cars. Already during the hustings, he began to falter, for example, over the issue of drilling in Alaska. He may well throw a bit more money at Amtrak and possibly help finance light rail schemes in urban areas, but I doubt that he will really take on the issue of climate change. He cannot, however, be worse than Bush and the most positive aspect is that he is an intelligent man not in hock to crazy fundamentalists. He will, at least, accept that climate change is happening and needs to be tackled. The real test is what will he do about it?
I don’t want to be churlish though. This is an exciting moment and a historic one. I will remember watching the election for the rest of my life, just as I recollect the ghastly hanging chads moments of the 2000 White House contest. This is a moment for celebration and hope, if Obama lives up to even least half our expectations that would be a great start.