By William Rabbe on 11/10/2008
Renegade is moving into the White House. At least that's how Barack Obama will be known to the secret service -- by his code name. For President-elect Obama, who received criticism for being a "secret muslim," and a "secret socialist," (read: un-American) the literal meaning of the name renegade couldn't be more ironic. The word Renegade, as defined by the Oxford American Dictionary, means "a person who betrays an organization, country, or a set of principles" or "a person who abandons religion."
Maybe those in the secret service have a wry sense of humor but what has come to pass in this country is truly remarkable. In the final weeks of the election many on the far right came to distrust the polls. Some were relying on the idea of the "Bradley effect," or the notion that voters would lie to pollsters in favor of an African American candidate, but would cast their ballots for the other guy in private. The idea of the Bradley effect itself is a belief that America harbors a sort of latent racism, which could only become suddenly apparent after voters had gone to the polls. The idea was faulty.
The candidate who was supposedly handicapped by his race won a Democratic landslide. Not only did he break a racial barrier but he broke down a barrier that had increasingly impeded the modern Democratic party: slim margins of victory. In the last 50 years the three biggest landslides have all been Republican: Nixon in '72 and Reagan in '80 and '84. Since 1964, no Democrat has won with more than 300 electoral votes without the help of a third party candidate (Perot got 19% of the vote in 1992 and even 8% in 1996, helping Clinton win more electoral votes).
States that had not voted for a Democratic President since '64 also turned this time around: Virginia and Indiana. Obama won both the symbolic swing states of Ohio and Florida, the breadwinners of the electoral college. Western states like New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada all went blue -- and even North Carolina jumped the bandwagon, encroaching on the "solid south," the Republican stronghold.
But with Obama's historic election come huge expectations, expectations that even "the one" will find difficult to meet. How will Renegade fare?