Or, Don’t Forget How Close We Came To Losing
In all the euphoria of electing the first demonstrably non-Caucasian as President, we would do well to remember that:
• Despite suffering through the most disastrous, despicable, duplicitous President in the history of this country, nearly one out of every two voters tried to return Bush’s party to the White House. One out of TWO! In other words, no matter how destructive, dangerous and divisive Republican rule has been, almost half this country still fervently believes that only Republicans should ever rule. If the stream of internet anguish, anger and polemic was not enough to convince how apparently deep their hate, fear, and intolerance goes and how willing they might be to do anything to achieve their goal, what about the voices shouting out from the McCain and Palin campaign rallies?
• Despite massive money and manpower expended on never before seen levels, only slightly more than every other person marked the ballot for Obama. A win yes and not as thin as 2000, but certainly not a sweeping mandate on a person to person level.
• Despite the present President’s illegal and relentless attacks on the Constitution and its separation of powers, not to mention assaults on every human right enumerated among the Amendments (except unrestricted access to assault weaponry of course) and despite fanatical assaults against open government, public education, public lands, public airwaves, clean air, clean water, clean food, safe products, traffic safety, worker safety, job security, health security, financial security, even genuine national security security, not to mention undermining energy independence, science advancement, troop support and, you name it, he still has about one out of every four or so adults not just voting for a new Republican in office, but thinking Bush is doing a fine job.
• Despite abundant proof to the contrary and universal repetition by all the legitimate news sources, to this day apparently, almost one in four Texans for instance assumes that a Muslim has just been elected President which suggests an intractability that maybe impenetrable until those folks die of old age (or the lack of health care with which their party has saddled them).
• Despite the relatively conciliatory concession speech by McCain after losing, it is noteworthy primarily for its contrast to the earlier vitriol by which he and his running mate elected to demonize Obama. Its tones could be easily dismissed as merely trying to box Obama in so he won’t do what the Republican invariably do when they seize power which is to continue demonizing the Democrats and cutting them out from participation in decisions.
• Despite the media “horse race” hype, the election outcome was a relatively close thing and could easily have gone the other way except for the untimely revelation of just how deep a hole the Republican had dug for us financially.
• Despite what became a significant Electoral College majority, a look at the land map of election results, especially by counties, shows an astonishing ocean of red lapping from shore to shore with but a relative few tiny sized enclaves of blue mostly clustered around the big cities. Even in supposed bastions of liberalism like Oregon, most of the counties voted for McCain. In terms of US land mass as opposed to population, the country is probably 98% red tinged.
• Despite a close to unanimous vote by blacks for Obama and nearly two thirds vote by hispanics, neither is anywhere near a majority of the population or the active voters.
• Despite the Republicans continuous purging from their party over the last three decades whereby they nastily kicked out everyone even half way moderate or capable of showing the slightest mercy, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance or bipartisanship, somehow they not only still find candidates who spend most of their time appealing to the party base, they manage to reap votes of lots of other people, people who are voting against their own interests whenever they vote Republican.
• Despite paradoxically “collapsing their tent” and narrowing their appeal to serve only the religious fundamentalists, only the arrogantly militant, only the xenophobes, only the greedily selfish, only the heterosexual (at least the purportedly straight that is), only the bigoted, and only the pale skinned from European ancestry with but few exceptions, they still came close to winning and probably would have but for the deux ex machina caused by the massiveness of the financial crisis they had created. Even then, they succeeded in convincing far too many people it was really a Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi created problem.
• Despite the unethicalness, unfairness, immorality and even apparent illegality of some of the things he did, encouraged and certainly favored, Karl Rove (to name but one prominent Republican prevaricator) is not only still around and well paid, he has been given a major soapbox on a national news network and is now calling himself a journalist of a sorts further degrading that “profession.” Moreover, all his fellow predators whose tactics were primarily demonization, dissembling, divisiveness and dirty tricks still believe those are not only legitimate methods, but a successful means to their end of reestablishing a theocracy for supposed “Real Americans,” naturally defined to mean just themselves. Doubt it? Think back to the millions and years spent in the Republican’s dogged pursuit of supposed Whitewater crimes. Think back to the salacious and juvenile tone of the Clinton impeachment. That failed, but not by much. And, think back to the Swiftboating of Kerry and the scurrilous slanders of Nobel Laureate Gore which did not fail. It’s only been literally hours since the alleged buddyship of Obama and Ayer has been bandied about.
• Despite abundant evidence that they have been wrong time and time and time again, the corporate media largely continues to only put on the air those guests, reporters and pontificating pundits who missed the big stories entirely. Not only were they dead wrong on facts and predictions, but refuse to admit it. Moreover, the ones who got it right have been fired, demoted, reassigned or not allowed to appear. Some of it could be dismissed as mere incompetence, but for a large number of stories, the ownership of the news outlets clearly has its own agenda disguised as “news,” especially on matters that affect themselves and their profits. Remember that corporate media controls who the reporters will be, how many there are, what they are assigned to cover and what they will say if they want to keep their jobs. Democrats are grossly outnumbered among those asked to sit on network boards of directors. As for the entire Fox Noise channel, it remains the unashamed PR department for the Republican Party and nothing else. “Fair and balanced,” as they claim? Not a chance. Unfortunately, it still has huge viewership.
• Even as to the portion of the press whose conscience mandates an occasional effort at something approximating real journalism, despite an eternity of “false balance” where the whopper outright lies of Republicans were compared to minnow exaggerations of Democrats, the corporate media continues to act even after the election as if reciting inconvenient facts about Republican disasters is somehow “liberal bias.”
• Despite almost daily evidence that the words in the press releases, the green room spin and even in the titles of Republican legislation are intended to produce the polar opposite of their customary meaning, the press and the public has come to accept the re-definitions of almost everything. The new definition of what is a “patriot” for example would horrify Patrick Henry. The new concept that there are a select few of “Real Americans” and that those from some particular states and cities are apparently fake Americans would horrify Abraham Lincoln.
• Despite nearly universal antipathy developed against this county throughout the world including from our allies, the Republican Party nominated candidates who campaigned on being tougher and more aggressive than Bush, going it alone and that did not deter voters. No doubt the slightest dispute with anyone over anything or the slightest incident will be declared to be proof Obama is clueless, inexperienced, weak, a “surrender monkey,” a friend of terrorists, a traitor or a secret Muslim. No doubt even if he successfully obtained a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, it would be viewed as a betrayal of Israel.
• Despite a financial meltdown of epic proportions caused primarily by greed, misrepresentation, stupidity and a lack of oversight and regulation, almost all the CEOs of the banks and other financial institutions are not only still in charge of those entities, but are steadfastly Republican and unrepentant. The same old mantra of no taxes/no regulation otherwise the economy will be “strangled” is still offered by almost all the players as the only route.
• Despite the debacle in Florida with the butterfly ballots and hanging chads, despite the conclusive proof that Diabold electronic voting machines (owned by a Republican acolyte) and even the optical scanners can be hacked, those machines are still in use and low income voter intimidation is still in vogue.
• Despite the Obama presidency win, the Republicans have had 8 years, YEARS, to purge everyone from the bureaucracy, its regulatory agencies and military command who had the slightest bit progressive, liberal, democrat or even non-partisan tendencies. If you recall from the evidence of what occurred in the Justice Department, even registered Republicans were fired if they weren’t zealous enough in imposing Republican ideology. It will be years before that mind set is reduced sufficiently by attrition of adherents.
• Worse, the Republican Supreme Court that put Bush in power and his own additions to the Court cannot be removed at all and most of the Bush appointees are relatively young. They have show their true colors and it is red indeed under their black robes.
• Worse still, the richest few percent still control three quarters or more of all the wealth in this country. Almost all of them are devout Republicans who not only want to protect that massive hoarding for themselves alone, they want to increase the amount. Greedy though they might be, they will use those resources to protect their assets. It might delay them buying this years’ newest yacht model or scale down its size, but they have been merely inconvenienced in the financial debacle in comparison to Obama supporters who have lots homes, jobs, insurance and savings. The deep pocket books and determination of the uber rich is or should be cause for concern on how the battle for the hearts and minds of voters will be fought.
So, if you are feeling pollyannish, the next time you are in line at the airport, just remember that nearly every other person voted to continue the Republican domination of government, no matter what it costs the county. Their campaign slogan of “County First” rightly should have been “Neocons First and Only.” The result was close to flipping a coin in the outcome.
The next time you are thinking about how tolerant America has become, just remember that the religious right won on all anti gay initiatives in the latest election and the segregationists won on all measures to end affirmative action.
The next time you are thinking of all the things that the Democrats can achieve now that they have control (unlike the shaky one vote majority they had in the Senate the last couple years), just remember not all Democrats are liberal or progressive. They want to be re-elected. Much of the Democrat leadership is the same craven herd that cowered, cringed, stumbled and bumbled with little effect throughout the entire Bush Administration. They were easily intimidated by their own shadows. On top of that, some are not even real Democrats as “Toyko Rose” Lieberman has proven. The Democrats still can’t even cut off a filibuster threatening to deadlock legislation. Their single vote majority in the Senate was only increased by seven at last count and that counts pseudo-Democrats.
The moral of this little tale is that for those who believe in the Golden Rule, who believe that compassionate conservatism is not just a slogan, who believe that facts and fairness should be foremost, who believe politicians and public service should actually obey their oath of office which is almost exclusively to defend the Constitution, vigilance must be even greater than before the election. The progressives and liberals who spent the last many years howling in the wilderness ever since the days of Jimmy Carter cannot rest. Sadly, having the superior candidate never guarantees success. A single victory doesn’t count for much (even assuming President Obama truly is progressive and liberal.)
Hope and Change. He convinced me there will be change. I hope he is right and that the change is what we need. Nevertheless, let’s keep reminding the public, the press and Brother Obama himself of all the “despites” that are bothering us.