Bob Beckel had an interesting piece published yesterday about the numerous parallels one can draw between Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential bid and Barack Obama's today. He does do a pretty amazing job picking out parallels from nearly 30 years ago - from foreign policy to economic strife. Clearly, the similarities are there. That's part of the great promise of an Obama presidency.
I've written before on several occasions about the possibility for this to be a big election. I won't fall into the fallacy of predicting a permanent party realignment (remember what happened to the last guy who did that), but I will say that Obama represents the best chance for the Democratic Party to gain real ascendency in America in the same way that Reagan helped the conservative movement. Furthermore, Obama represents a progressive wing of the party that hasn't been represented for quite a while.
The real power of the presidency - aside from all that Constitutional stuff about negotiating treaties, etc - is the power to set the national agenda and garner popular support for programs and policies. Given Obama's clear rhetorical gifts and ability to motivate, excite, and activate supporters, he could be extremely powerful in that role. His ability to move the country in the direction of a more progressive politics is exactly why I support him. Because the Democrats need someone who can inspire people by saying what he believes in, not what they want to hear. That was Reagan's gift. We'll see if Obama can match him.