Thank God it’s over. No more idiotic political TV ads that pitch politicians like they are breath mints or foot gel inserts. After spending record billions of dollars, much of it dark money courtesy of a supreme court decision that says corporations and unions are persons and money is their speech, we end up with the same president and the same control of the house and senate as before. It looks like nothing has changed. Or has it?
A Republican party that chose four years ago that it’s overarching policy was to make Obama a one term president failed in its quest. After losing in 2008, they did not ask how they lost their way in the Bush years, what they could do better, what policies they might put forward that maintain the social compact in place but are consistent with their principles, and what candidate they could advance that had a real shot of winning the election. Instead they chose the negative - the goal they chose was to make Barack Obama lose the election, not to put forward a candidate and policies that could win. And in the end their candidate lost.
In my own state, Indiana, the Republican senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, lost to a Democrat. Mourdock defeated Richard Lugar in the Republican primaries, a highly respected and long-serving senator with a distinguished record in foreign affairs. Lugar was an old school senator willing to work across the aisle, a cardinal sin in today’s Republican party, and he would have easily won in the general election. In a purging exercise his party threw it’s resources behind the more extreme Mourdock and he lost the general election in a very conservative state. Have they learned anything from this?
In following their strategy the Republican party has played to the worst instincts of some of it’s members. It doubled down on fear, resentment, and downright craziness. The right wing pundits stirred the pot and cultivated the hate. The opposition became not just an adversary, but the enemy, an evil other that in their minds was bent on destroying America. No compromise could be considered.
To those Republicans who are shocked that they lost the presidency, I’ll say this. It’s time to get out of the bubble and take residence in reality. This was no surprise. The news media may have played this election up to the end as a close race because that tactic holds viewers, but any sober reading of the polls over the last several months would tell you that the major swing states, especially Ohio, were not likely to go for Romney.
The world is changing and we change with it, like it or not. Accusing people who don’t share your belief system of trying to destroy the American way of life is petty and destructive. I’m not even sure what that way of life actually is, because this is a diverse country. I know that the way we live today is very different from what it was 50 or even 20 years ago, and it will be very different in the future. We will have to come to grips with energy resource depletion and global warming damage whether we like it or not, and the processes of the past and present will often fail us badly in the future. I don’t know of any institution other than government that has the resources to deal with these monumental problems that many of us are willing to leave for the next generation.
To those who like me are old farts I’ll say this: It’s not all about you. Taking a circle-the-wagons mentality and asserting that everybody who is not like you or doesn’t think like you is an enemy out to destroy the country will only drag everyone down. Many of you have done very well in America and achieved great success. What worked for you in the past will not work for the next generation without some changes, and obstructing the change that is needed is punishing those who inherit the future. You won’t have to deal with the consequences of climate change, fossil fuel depletion or a parasitic financial system, they will. You won’t have to remake our cities and farms, they will. Stop dumping your mythological past on their future.