Regardless of the outcome of this Tuesday's election, remember that either candidate has a daunting list of obstacles ahead. Here's a few: poverty, overcrowded prisons, a continued presence in Afghanistan, a mostly unregulated financial industry, an ominous potential crisis in the Middle East, possibly three new Supreme Court justices, increasing storms and climate-related catastrophes that may or may not be the product of global warming, and a housing crisis that's only now beginning to end. Oh, and there's too many people. That's just a start.
It's difficult to imagine anyone being able to properly deal with all of these problems. And even if the winning candidate has a good solution to any challenge on the horizon, he will have to usher it through filibusters and other assorted Capitol Hill chicanery from either party, not to mention a new-media machine that will continue to churn noise and pounce on any gaffe or miscue, especially when it can be packaged into a meme that generates a minuscule profit.
Democrat, Republican—who cares? Either way, we will face the next four years with the same fear and unease we bring to everything nowadays. Even after many of us embraced the last election with a sense of optimism rarely seen beforehand, four years later, we realize that some things change but most things stay the same. And if things didn't go exactly as we hoped, what should we expect from the next four years, especially when we embark on that journey without any of the rosy-hued conviction we had in 2008?
All this week, check back here to read about how Reader writers dread all manner of things. And in case you missed our remembrances of elections past, check out last week's Variations on a Theme.