Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thank God it's over!

We've had a few days now to absorb and reflect on the news of Tuesday's election, and thank God it's over! The sense of satisfaction that many of us feel about the results has only deepened. One of the most mendacious campaigns for president in the history of the country was rejected by voters. Candidates for the senate who appealed to misogyny, racism, and magical economic thinking were mostly defeated. In the races for the House of Representatives, some of the worst of the worst (I'm talking 'bout you Joe Walsh and Alan West!) were defeated and others (Michele Bachmann, Steve King, etc.) had close calls and suffered scares which may bode well for the future. Even in Texas, the Republicans lost their super-majority in the state legislature and will no longer be able to ride roughshod over the objections of their opponents. It is very likely that except for the gerrymandering and the voter suppression efforts by Tea Party Republican state governments, the rejection of the non-reality-based philosophy of that party by the voters would have been even more drastic.

Meanwhile, we watch, bemused, as the right wingnut pundits "analyze" their losses. They were so sure that they were in for a big victory celebration on Tuesday. They were all prepared to lord it over their weak liberal opponents and crow about their "mandate." They were going to repeal the Affordable Care Act on their first day in office, followed quickly by an overturning of Roe v. Wade, a denial of health insurance coverage for female contraceptives (But, of course, full coverage for male enhancement drugs like Viagra or Cialis!), building a 20-foot tall wall all around the country and rounding up and deporting all who can't prove their citizenship or their legal entry into the country, and, naturally, getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and removing all regulation on Wall Street. Yes, beginning November 7, they believed in spite of all evidence to the contrary that they would be entering the Randian world of their fondest dreams. They had convinced themselves that all those nasty little geeks who relied on real-world data were just skewing their predictions to make the Democrats look good. I have to admit that watching their self-inflicted combustion on Tuesday night and since has been quite entertaining. Gloat-inducing even.

In an article in New York Magazine today, Frank Rich writes about the propensity for self-delusion that is rampant in today's GOP. The title of his piece is "Fantasyland." Never was an article more accurately titled. He writes:
As GOP politicians and pundits pile on Romney in defeat, they often argue that he was done in by not being severely conservative enough; if only he’d let Ryan be Ryan, voters would have been won over by right-wing orthodoxy offering a clear-cut alternative to Obama’s alleged socialism. In truth, Romney was a perfect embodiment of the current GOP. As much as the Republican Party is a radical party, and a nearly all-white party, it has also become the Fantasyland Party. It’s an isolated and gated community impervious to any intrusions of reality from the “real America” it solipsistically claims to represent. This year’s instantly famous declaration by the Romney pollster Neil Newhouse that “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers” crystallized the mantra of the entire GOP. The Republican faithful at strata both low and high, from Rush’s dittoheads to the think-tank-affiliated intellectuals, have long since stopped acknowledging any empirical evidence that disputes their insular worldview, no matter how grounded that evidence might be in (God forbid) science or any other verifiable reality, like, say, Census reports or elementary mathematics. No wonder Romney shunned the word Harvard, which awarded him two degrees, even more assiduously than he did Mormon.  
This is a party that is not going to let its policies be dictated by facts. They deny science. They deny any verifiable reality which contradicts what their gut - i.e., their prejudices - tells them is true. They live inside an intellectual bubble where they only listen to and read others who think like them. This is a formula for creating a psychosis which cannot recognize and accept the real world when it intrudes. In the days following the election, the residents of the bubble have continued to deny reality and blame all sorts of things for the failure of their party. It was Hurricane Sandy's fault. The Democrats suppressed the vote. (!!!) Mitt Romney wasn't conservative enough. It was those damn liberal pollsters and other media types. It was Chris Christie's fault. It was all those women and brown voters who weren't smart enough to figure out what was going on and were deluded by Obama.

What they absolutely refuse to even consider is that it was their policies that did it. It was their demonizing of those brown people and of women who want to control their own lives and bodies. It was their insistence that people who have worked their entire life and contributed to the funds which are the source of the country's social safety net are moochers when they retire or become disabled and begin to receive the benefits of that net. Likewise, that veterans who have given up a portion of their life and sometimes their limbs or their ability to live a normal life are moochers for expecting the assistance of the country they defended! And, perhaps most obnoxiously, their insistence that super-rich people must not under any circumstances be required to give up any of their riches - which they were able to garner because of the laws and protections of this country - to support and defend the society which has enriched them. These policies were rejected, rather resoundingly, by American voters on Tuesday in favor of a philosophy of inclusiveness and communitarianism.

Again, here's Frank Rich:
At the policy level, this is the GOP that denies climate change, that rejects Keynesian economics, and that identifies voter fraud where there is none. At the loony-tunes level, this is the GOP that has given us the birthers, websites purporting that Obama was lying about Osama bin Laden’s death, and not one but two (failed) senatorial candidates who redefined rape in defiance of medical science and simple common sense. It’s the GOP that demands the rewriting of history (and history textbooks), still denying that Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” transformed the party of Lincoln into a haven for racists. Such is the conservative version of history that when the website Right Wing News surveyed 43 popular conservative bloggers to determine the “worst figures in American history” two years ago, Jimmy Carter, Obama, and FDR led the tally, all well ahead of Benedict Arnold, Timothy McVeigh, and John Wilkes Booth.

It would be satisfying if we could just ignore all these crazy relatives in the attic room of our country. Unfortunately, they still have the capacity to create a lot of havoc and a lot of misery for the rest of us, and so we have to find a way to deal with them - to persuade those who may be persuadable and to blunt the ability of the fanatics to throw monkey wrenches into the works. It is not an enviable task. President Obama certainly has some heavy lifting to do in the next four years. May he find the strength he needs.

And may those who so successfully planned and ran his campaign start organizing now to give him a majority in the House and a greater majority in the Senate in 2014. If that happens, the last two years of this president's last term could be truly transformational.

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